Blog : Little Lilypad Co

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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or by one of our baby bloggers. Occasionally we accept guest posts too. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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Category: Christmas

  1. How to save money in the run up to Christmas

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    Yes I mentioned the C word. I know, I know but if you are a savvy shopper I have no doubt that you have probably already made some purchases or at least some plans by now.

    How to save money in the run up to Christmas

    Its never too early to start

    My plans for Christmas start in January. I read an article this week about a mum who buys the majority of her Christmas presents in the Boxing Day sales and whilst I couldn't do that (my kids change their mind multiple times in December, let alone a whole year beforehand) but I do make plans in January. I buy expensives Christmas cards when they are in the sale at Marks and Spencers or Paperchase. Christmas cards aren't "fashionable" and if you are giving last years designs, it also means that its unlikely people will get duplicates! Win win! 

    Take advantage of out of season offers

    I keep an eye out for the offers. This sounds like simple advice but its true, if I see something on offer earlier in the year, like a favourite perfume or discounts on make up, I will buy it early and put it away.

    Always make a list

    At one point, I was buying for over 30 children and I realised that I needed to reign it in. I keep a book with all the Christmas gifts in it, so I can check what I bought last year and it stops me from going overboard.

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    Don't buy anything at all

    No, I promise I am not being Scrooge. Last year I made a pact with some friends that we would spend time, not money. So we made a conscious effort to get together, to really catch up or to do something fun with the kids. Gifts can be discarded over time, memories can't!

    Check voucher sites

    I remember when we used to get excited about having chocolate in our advent calenders each morning but times have moved on and its toys, jewellery and gin these days! I saw on one of the voucher sites this week, a 24 day Jewellery advent calendar with gifts made with cyrstals from Swarovski. It was reduced from from £199 to £21.99! So it is definitely worth checking out the discount voucher sites before buying an advent calender this year.

    Those are my top preparation tips for this week, so I will leave you to do some savvy shopping. Happy saving! (I won't say Happy Christmas just yet!)

     

  2. How to keep the cost of Christmas decorating to a minimum

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    It’s advent! Time to deck the halls and pull out all the stops to ensure your home is sparkling, twinkling, merry and bright. While Christmas decorating is one of my favourite things to do with the kids, I’m definitely feeling as though there’s more of an expectation than ever to have a fantastically festive home.

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    Whether you’ve found inspiration on Pinterest, from a neighbour, or via following certain Insta accounts, 2018 is about creating a classy Chrismassy abode, from lighting to scents and all that’s in between. Heck, even your favourite seasonal Zoflora scent is a topic of interest this year. Yes, even your disinfectant. Needless to say, the pressure is on!

    With so much to think about, the cost of Christmas decorating can quickly sky rocket. It’s important to remember that your Christmas is about what it means for you and your family. If your Christmas tradition is to pull down the same tree from the attic and decorate it with family favourite baubles, then don’t cave under social media standards. As soppy as it sounds, memories are moments with meaning, rather than heaps of material possessions.

    That said, if you’re fancying a revamp or want to add to your existing collection, there are ways to push down the financial burden of decorating, so it’s a little kinder on your pocket.

    During advent, children are on top form, bursting with the excitement of Christmas. Channel this energy into some creative crafts. Making Christmas paperchains, paper snowflakes to stick to the windows and even Christmas crackers, will not only keep the young ones entertained, but is a sure way to make decorations steeped in sentimental value.

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    Scout around the charity shops, too. Often, when people buy new Christmas decorations, they donate their old ones to charity. This doesn’t mean they’re worn and outdated, either. Some homes buy new year on year, others donate theirs when they decorate with a new colour scheme. Have a browse around! You’ll be surprised.

    Do a bit of a decoration swap with family or friends. What’s old to you, is new to them, and sometimes that’s enough to give your Christmas decorating a bit of a boost. Incredibly cost effective – costing nothing at all – get together with your bits and bobs, and you may well have enough to swap to give your home a fresh new festive feel.

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    And finally, failing all that, check out the sales. As we head closer to the big day, stores start to panic that they won’t shift Christmas stock and prices drop. With up to 75% slashed of RRP on the highstreet, the longer you leave it, the better the deals you will get on decorations. Perhaps, you will keep your existing sparkle for this season, and bag a brand-new haul for 2019. Sounds like a plan!

  3. Top Tips for visiting Birmingham Christmas Markets

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    Once upon a time, when I was pregnant with my eldest daughter I travelled to Cologne to see the German Christmas markets. Cologne provides a stunning backdrop to the markets and it is impossible to beat Cologne Cathedral, the magnificent Gothic edifice that took more than 600 years to complete and which today is still one of the city’s significant features.

    Birmingham german market 

    Fast forward 10 years or more and I don’t have to travel far to experience the bratwursts, tankards of German beer and the fruity flavours of hot Glühwein as Birmingham has one of the biggest markets outside of Germany!

     Birmingham german market sausage

    We went into Birmingham last weekend and there were notices already up in the train station warning of delays due to the increased number of passengers going to the German Markets. It is lovely to have it on our doorstep and people clearly come from far and wide to visit.

    We travelled in the early afternoon and the trains were already busy so the later it gets, the busier it gets. Weekends tend to be the busiest times - great if you enjoy a bustling atmosphere but it can get very crowded.   

    Birmingham German market by night 

    You can see from the pictures that there is not much breathing room so our top tips for attending the Christmas markets are:

    1. If you are planning on going without the children, try a week day as they are less hectic although it can get very busy in the middle of the day (from noon to 2pm when shop and office workers go in their lunch break).
    2. Avoid the times between 5pm up until about 7.30pm on a week day, as people stop for a drink and a bite to eat on their way home from work in the city centre.
    3. Some people think that it can be expensive to go to the markets but don’t get too caught up with price matching. Most vendors have equal prices, and although we love a bit of haggling, it isn’t common practice.
    4. If you want to venture a little further afield and go to the actual German markets in Germany, there are lots of travel operators offering coach trips, or why not book a hotel and enjoy a festive mini-break? It’s also worth checking to see if travelling by car maybe cheaper but always make sure that you have Car Insurance that covers European travel!
    5. And finally, don’t forget to sample the Glühwein. You may find that for a small fee, you can keep and re-use the special mugs. Not only are refills cheaper, you have a great souvenir too!

    Collaboration with Aviva.

  4. Christmas Checklist for Mum

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    We’ve waltzed into December and – just like that *finger snap* – the year is over. I’m a little dumbfounded to say the least. Just where have all those weeks gone? It doesn’t seem two minutes since we were looking forward to the six-week summer break and thinking about getting a gardener because the heatwave had made everything grow twice as fast.

    Given that time’s flying so fast it’s giving Santa’s sleigh a run for its money, I seem to have a little clump of anxiety up in my chest. The days are running away with me right now, and I can’t help but wonder how I’m going to cram everything in that I have to do before the end of 2018.

    Mums Christmas Checklist

    As my littlies keep reminding me, it’s only 21 sleeps ‘til Christmas. So, if you’re feeling the same way I am, here’s a handy checklist to keep us mum’s sane and plans in place throughout December.

    • First things first, if you do your grocery shop online, book a slot ASAP. Fill your basket up with a few bits to meet the minimum spend to secure your preferred delivery date and time.
    • If you haven’t already – deck the halls with your children! It will put you in a magical mood for everything else you need to do.

    Christmas table

    • Stock up on Christmas cards, gift wrap, tissue paper, bows, bags, and all that jazz.
    • Arrange a couple of Christmassy days out, e.g. Santa’s grotto; snow park; reindeer farm; pantomime or go for something really fancy at the Christmas party venues in London.
    • Write down said family fun days in your diary and actually remember to go!
    • Book in a babysitter, pull out all the presents and wrap! The sooner the better.
    • As you’re wrapping, make a list of what you have, and anything else you need. This is guaranteed to make you feel on-top of the whole gifting situ.
    • Speak with family and friends, plan in when you will get together for some festive fun.
    • Check last post delivery dates, and be sure to send out cards and gifts in time.
    • Revisit your online food shop to finalise your order, or plan in a time when you’ll hit the supermarkets. Eeeek. Don’t forget Christmas dinner ingredients, Christmas cake, nibbles, cheese and biscuits, and traditional tipples.
    • If you have the time Christmas weekend, plan in a baking day. Schedule out some time to make cupcakes, a chocolate yule log, and decorate your Christmas cake with the children.
    • Alternatively, if you’re pushed for time or so stressed your hair’s turning a glorious shade of Santa Claus snowy-white, scratch that. No one knows. You just didn’t Insta-it. A Christmas present from you, to you.
    • Prep the veg, pre-heat the open, pop open a bottle of something sparkling, and relax.

    You did it!!