I’m dreaming of a cheap Christmas…

I'm dreaming of a cheap Christmas

I’m dreaming of a cheap Christmas 
Just like the ones I used to know… 

Wait, those aren’t the right lyrics, are they? But Christmases certainly weren’t so insanely expensive in the past, I’m sure of it.

My view might be a bit skewed as I’m reading so many blogs with “gift guides” right now. So many of those seem so expensive and it terrifies me!

Last Christmas and the one before, I think we went a little overboard with the spending – although still nothing compared to what I’ve seen others do.

This year, I’m cutting back drastically. (When I say “I”, I do of course mean “my husband and I”. It’s just that as the one at home right now, I’ll obviously be doing more of the work for it.)

I love to spoil my loved ones. Gift-giving is one of my biggest “love languages”, so this might be hard. But I think it’s important.

Why do we want a cheap Christmas?

Firstly, I’m the primary breadwinner in our family. But I’m on maternity leave right now. So, yeah, money’s going to be tight by the time I go back. I’m trying not to think about it. Despite this, we are committed to my taking a full year off. (Of course, as I started my maternity leave quite early, I’m already a fairly hefty portion of the way through!) But this does mean that we are going to have to cut back significantly. Christmas is a good place to start!

Secondly, we’re Catholic. To me, Christmas is about more than handing over a debit card or unwrapping gifts. It’s so easy to lose sight of that these days, but now that my daughter is here, it feels more important to try and refocus a bit. I don’t want her to grow up expecting Christmas to be a massively materialistic holiday. I want her to know its religious significance more than anything.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if she grew up and recognised Christmas as a religious festival, and also a time of year where we show and share love amongst our friends and family? Rather than a time of year where she starts demanding the latest plasticky crap? I want her to experience the joy of giving, but that doesn’t have to necessarily involve the Argos catalogue! It could be spending time on a nice painting or making some food for Grandad to show how much he means to her.

I know, at two weeks old, I can’t make plans for the rest of her life. But I can have aspirations for her!

Some of my plans for having a cheap Christmas:

  • I’m cutting back on who’s getting gifts. This sounds incredibly Scrooge-like, I know. But there are people that we never see, family members that actively dislike us, and every year there’s this pressure to still buy them some small trinket that they’ll probably open and then re-gift to someone else the next year. What is the point of that? I’m cutting them off the list.
  • On a similar note, if I won’t be seeing someone around Christmas time, they’re not getting anything. Yes, there are some people I always post to (mostly kids) and they’ll get something. But I’m not carting gifts around in my car for months on the off-chance I’ll see an old school friend.
  • I’m not buying for the sake of buying. Boots 3-for-2 deals are great. But it does mean that I feel the need to go there more often and always get things in multiples of three. The plan this year is to give things to the people we love that we think they’ll love. Not just buying something because it was on offer.
  • Homemade and crafty things! Lots of family members will be getting baby photo related gifts this year, I think. Food products will also probably feature quite highly.
  • Baby is having a really cheap Christmas. We’ll be giving her some things that technically she already has but just doesn’t know about! She’s only going to be a few weeks old; she has no idea what Christmas is. (But I do feel the pressure to make sure she has something to be photographed at least, so she has one fewer thing to complain to her therapist about in the future!)
  • The rabbits will be benefiting from the trick we learnt last year. They like boxes, so they’ll get boxes – the boxes from the humans’ gifts. They won’t mind that they’re re-gifted!
  • We’re vegetarian, so that cuts down on food costs. We are absolutely not offering to host anyone this year, either. A nice quite Christmas on our own is the plan.
  • I won’t be buying loads of new decorations this year. The past couple of years have been a bit more expensive than I’d like as we moved into our “new” house in 2015, so we’re still putting together our Christmas collection. We’re nearly there now, and if the house is a bit sparsely decorated this year, who cares? Baby dressed in a tiny elf outfit is going to be the best decoration of all!

I hope you all have a lovely cheap Christmas!

I think we can do it!

Am I the only one planning a cheap Christmas? (Some days it feels like it!) If you are too, how are you planning to do it?

Maternity clothes don’t have to cost the earth!

maternity clothes

Now that I’m nearly at the end of my pregnancy, I feel I can talk with authority about maternity clothes.

I’ve survived nearly nine months of gestation, and have been wearing these things since probably about week ten. I was very bloated from about week seven onwards, and was definitely into maternity trousers at least by the second trimester.

Where did I buy maternity clothes?

eBay. eBay eBay eBay. Seriously. This is where I got most of my maternity clothes. I’m a fairly standard size, which helps (size 10 pre-pregnancy and 5’3).

I ended up with an amazing maternity wardrobe, lots of brands like Seraphine and Jojo Maman Bebe, but paid full price for none of it.

My favourite maternity outfit was a black and white striped Seraphine jersey dress that honestly I’ll probably wear later on too as it’s not stretched out and is lovely and loose.

I had some things that were great and some that were less great, but I didn’t care so much about the stuff that didn’t work out if I didn’t spend so much on it!

The only things I bought new were some jeans (Amazon and H&M), a jersey dress (Lidl!), a work skirt (Mothercare), two pairs of yoga pants (Mothercare), a couple of shirts (H&M and New Look) and bras (M&S).

What did I end up needing?

I have relied on:

  • Maternity jersey dresses x 2
  • Maternity sundresses x 2 (it was a very hot summer and I could maybe have done with another)
  • Maternity jeans
  • Maternity yoga pants x 2 (but could easily have got away with one!)
  • Maternity maxi skirt (not an essential but so good in the summer!)
  • Maternity pencil skirt
  • Maternity shirts x 4
  • Well-fitting bras x 2 (at a time – get new ones at least every trimester!)

That’s probably all I absolutely needed – and if I were more on top of washing, I could probably have coped with less!

You don’t need maternity everything.

I have not bought a single pair of maternity knickers, for example. My usual M&S midis work just fine. I’ve got some in sizes 12 and 14 for those days where I’m feeling a bit larger (and in black for after the birth!), but I’m generally still wearing my usual pre-pregnancy pants.

Maternity leggings, it turns out, are hideously uncomfortable on me. So I bought some larger non maternity jeggings from Asda George and just push them down under the bump. They only cost £8!

I’m continuing to wear my old long stretchy H&M vests – they fit over the bump just fine, and I pair them with a button-down shirt (again, non-maternity). I can keep the shirt mostly open, and it’ll be a good outfit to repeat later on when I’m feeding.

Here are some example outfits: none of these tops are maternity.

maternity clothes

What did I not use?

The aforementioned maternity leggings. I bought a two-pack from New Look very early on, but it turns out that I’m not so comfortable in massively over the bump things. I don’t know if I just have a weirdly shaped bump, but they don’t stay up properly. Then, as they progress downwards, they dig in painfully!

The same went for maternity tights. I ended up going bare-legged, which was fine most of the time as I was largely pregnant over summer.

I’m wearing maternity/nursing bras now, but didn’t start until the third trimester. Until then, I just wore non-underwired bras. Debenhams have a great selection, and I don’t think I spent more than about £10 on any one, thanks to the Blue Cross sale.

What else to consider?

Shoes! My feet haven’t swollen up too much, but there was no way I could wear heels past the first trimester.

I spent the summer living in my beautiful Birkenstocks, even to work. They’re obviously not maternity specific; I wore them pre-pregnancy and I’ll be wearing them later on too.

Now that I’m on maternity leave, it’s Skechers all the way. I need something I can just slip on, because I can’t bend down to actually get to my feet any more!

Also, socks. I never considered this before, but my ankles have swollen a bit and most socks dig in. Also, my feet are much sweatier than they used to be. I’m pretty much exclusively wearing bamboo socks right now. TK Maxx usually have a good range!

Totting it all up, I think I probably spent about £200 on maternity-specific clothes. I could have gone cheaper, honestly, but I’ve been working throughout my pregnancy, we’ve had invitations to three weddings, and I admit I went a bit overboard before I worked out what really worked for me.