IKEA Christmas Tree – Advent 7/24

Day 7/24 – IKEA Christmas tree

Christmas Tree

This is our first ever real tree! We have an artifical tree in the loft, so I’ve never justfied the purchase of a real one, until now. The IKEA offer was too good to resist though; with a £20 voucher (no minimum spend) in return for spending £25 on a tree.

IKEA Tree Voucher

All of their trees are the same price, so you need to arrive early if you want a tall one (ours is a little over 6ft and we showed up before 10am). The voucher is valid to spend from 16th January – 12th February 2017, so you might want to put a reminder in the diary.

Disclaimer – if you fall in love with some baubles whilst in IKEA and end up buying two packs of these, totalling £9 and need to buy the stand for £15 then it somewhat negates the £20 voucher, but I’m treating these as long-term investments!

Christmas Bell Cards – Advent 6/24

Day 6/24 – Christmas Bell Cards

Christmas bell cardA Christmas card that jingles? You heard it here first.

Lindt bunny bell card

These cards use the bells saved from Lindt bunnies, but if you’re not as much of a hoarder as me, you can purchase bells from eBay. To take the thrift to the next level, the ribbons I used are the hanging loops cut from clothes, which I tied into a bow and fixed with a split pin. I used the same pre-made red and green cards from The Works and rubber stamp as in this post.

10p Gift Tags – Advent 5/24

Day 5/24 – Christmas gift tag bargains

Gift Tags

Last year I got a few packs of these gift cards from Waitrose at 10p per pack of 8. Whilst there are plenty of thrifty ways to make your own, for less than 1p per tag these are a good time saver!

Bargain gift tags

The sales on Christmas bits seem to be starting earlier and earlier; I’ve already seen lots of reduced wrapping paper, discounted cards etc, so keep your eyes peeled. Otherwise, shop just after Christmas and stash away ready for next year!

Free Festive Nail Polish – 4/24

Day 4/24 – free Body Shop nail polish

Free Nail Polish

To get your hands on this sparkly gold nail polish worth £5, download a code from here and take into your nearest Body Shop, but be quick as the voucher expires today. You can use the voucher for any standard sized nail polish, if you want something a bit more subtle (but where’s the fun in that?)

The voucher codes website also has a code for 40% off in Body Shop, which I used to get a couple of gift sets as pressies.

Mince Pies – Advent 3/24

Day 3/24 – Mince pies

Mince pies are possibly my favourite Christmas food (sorry yule log, it was a close run thing).

Mince pies

To make mine more thrifty, I buy my mincemeat just after Christmas when it’s all reduced (as it usually has a long enough sell by date to get through to the following year). I like them to be classic, with shortcrust pastry, as per the recipe below, but go wild with puff pastry or even filo – this recipe looks delicious.

Ingredients:
225g cold butter, diced
350g plain flour
100g golden caster sugar
280g mincemeat
2 tbsp of milk
Icing sugar, to dust

Mince pies

1. To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour, then mix in the sugar and a pinch of salt. Combine the pastry into a ball, adding a tablespoon of milk if necessary to bring the dough together, although it should remain firm. Knead briefly.

2. Preheat the oven the 200℃ (180℃ for fan ovens)/400℉/Gas Mark 6 and grease 18 holes of two shallow muffin trays.

3. Roll the dough out on a floured board to around half a centimetre in depth and, using a cookie cutter slightly larger than the muffin tin circles, cut out 18 bases and press them into the tins.

4. Fill each pastry base with a couple of teaspoons of mincemeat.

5. Gather up the remaining dough from the bases, roll out to the same depth as previously and this time use a cookie cutter around the size of the muffin tin holes to make the tops. Use stars for extra Christmas points

They can be frozen before baking, so you can make them in advance of the big day. Serve warm, preferably with lots of cream/brandy butter/other extravagant accompaniment.

Christmas Tree Cards – Advent 1/24

Day 1/24 – Christmas tree cards

Every day this advent I’ll be posting a thrifty Christmas make, bake or buy. I hope you’ll join me for this festive marathon!

Tree Christmas Card

Today’s post is about these cute Christmas tree cards, which are made with leftover scraps of fabric, stuck using fabric glue, with a bit of extra glue and glitter for the pot and top.

I cut the scraps from an awkwardly-shaped remnant I had in my fabric supplies, using pinking shears and then glued to the card using fabric glue. For the glitter pots I did use PVA as I had it to hand, although I’m sure you could just do a bit extra with the fabric glue. I added silver glitter (which is now all over my desk!) and then stamped on a greeting using a rubber stamp.

You get a tiny bit of deformity in the card from the glue for the pot, so if you had glittery card to hand, may want to stick this on with a glue stick instead.

Supplies

Fabric (scraps)
Fabric Glue (£2.94, B&Q)
Create Your Own Cards (£1 for 6 cards and envelopes, The Works) – not currently available online
Stamp (£2, Hobby Craft – purchased in a summer sale. Similar available here for £4)
PVA, glitter

Epiphany – Taking Down the Christmas Decs

Pronunciation: /ɪˈpɪf(ə)ni, ɛ-/

noun (plural epiphanies)

  • 1 (Epiphany) the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12).
  •  the festival commemorating the Epiphany on 6 January.
  • 2a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization.
Epiphany ‘the festival commemorating the Epiphany on 6 January’

Twelfth Night, which marks the coming of Ephiany and the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas is believed by some to be the last date to take down your Christmas decorations, else bad luck will befall you. Whilst I’m not sure I believe in this bad luck, there does come a point when you’re ready to pack down the Christmas decs and start afresh. Here are a few things to do before you forget Christmas for another 11 months:
1. Cut out old Christmas cards to make gift tags:

2. Keep any flat pieces of wrapping paper big enough to cut out and use next year:

3. Shop for a few Christmas bargains in the January sales:

String reduced from £3.50 to £1 and 24 Gift Bags reduced from £8 to £1, Ikea

4. Put everything away neatly in a ‘Christmas box’:

5. Relax and eat leftover Christmas chocolate:

Epiphany ‘a moment of sudden and great revelation or realisation’
I came to the realisation over the Christmas break that I can’t do everything all the time. I have a demanding job, a long commute, I’m often all over the country and when I get home, I’m pretty knackered. So I need to stop giving myself a hard time; the house won’t always be clean and tidy, dinner won’t always be made-from-scratch, the ironing pile might start spilling out of the basket and I won’t always go to the gym as often as I maybe should. Instead I will pursue the things that make me happy, enjoy each day as it comes and not sweat the small stuff.

So that means more cakes, more sewing and more blogging in 2014, cheers to that!

Twelfth Night

January 6th is Twelfth Night, or if you’re superstitious, the last day to take down your Christmas decorations. But don’t bin everything just yet! Here are a few things to save for a thrifty Christmas next year.

Cracker decorations- can be used to seal packets for some homemade treats next year:
Christmas cards- cut out to make gift tags:

You can recycle any leftover cards at Tesco supermarkets:
Long pieces of ribbon can be saved to wrap around smaller presents next year:

PS There are also some great Christmas bargains in the shops at the moment, to get you prepared early for Christmas 2013. Stick it all in a clearly marked box and you’ll be laughing next year. Here are a few I found:
Waitrose 2 tier cake stand, £0.69:
Lindt Irish Cream Truffles, again in Waitrose, £1.14 (these are also available in special edition stracciatella flavour, yum!):
M&S Christmas dinner party invitations, £50p:
Happy crafting and sales shopping!

Mince Pies

You know Christmas is nearly here when you eat your first mince pie! So here’s a recipe to make a batch and get that ‘Christmas is coming!’ feeling…

Ingredients:
225g cold butter, diced
350g plain flour
100g golden caster sugar
280g mincemeat
2 tbsp of milk
Icing sugar, to dust

1. To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour, then mix in the sugar and a pinch of salt. Combine the pastry into a ball, adding a tbsp of milk if necessary to bring the dough together, although it should remain firm. Knead briefly.

2. Preheat the oven the 200℃ (180℃ for fan ovens)/400℉/Gas Mark 6 and grease 18 holes of two shallow muffin trays.

3. Roll the dough out on a floured board to around half a centimetre in depth and, using a cookie cutter slightly larger than the muffin tin circles, cut out 18 ‘bases’ and press them into the tins.

4. Fill each pastry base with a couple of teaspoons of mincemeat. Be careful not to overfill.

5. Gather up the remaining dough from the bases, roll out to the same depth as previously and this time use a cookie cutter around the size of the muffin tin holes to make the tops. I used stars and hearts, but you could make full lids or use any shape you please.

6. Brush the tops lightly with milk (or a beaten egg if you prefer the glazed look) and bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for around 20 minutes, or until golden.

If you want to make these in advance, they can be frozen after step 5. Mince pies make a lovely gift or treat to take to a friends, if you can resist gobbling them all up.

PS How do you eat yours? Hot? Cold? With cream? With brandy butter?

July Sales

Today I did something that I’m kind of not proud of. Well actually my thrifty self is very proud, but the bit of me that believes Christmas should only happen in December, not so much.

I went to Hobbycraft to buy some purple ink and they might have maybe had a big bin of Christmas rubber stamps for £1 each and I might have gone a little crazy….

OK, so I also got some felt reindeer and Christmas trees. I feel guilty even thinking about Christmas in the middle of July, but I’m sure I’ll feel very smug come Christmas time!

That my was my little splurge for the month as this whole house-buying malarky is so expensive, but if you’ve got some spare cash for the sales, there are some great ones at the moment- my favourites (for window shopping only!) are NextHabitat and Accessorize.