This week has been rather wet and windy hasn’t it? Combined with feeling rough at the start of it, I have wanted to do anything but all of the above! The cold dull days have made me want to hibernate, sleep and snuggle with Christmas movies, and aside from Tuesday when I did just that, we have had a rather busy and full on week as we take another step closer to the festivities of Christmas.

Monday saw us at the Rainbows carol concert and me Christmas shopping with friends and lunch. And then, on Wednesday Alice and I took the train to a very cold coast for some more shopping and lunch with one of my sisters! We have have been at playgroups and soft plays, and I had Christmas dinner with the ladies from church. And then, last night I went out with my youngest sister to see Oliver Twist at Hull Truck Theatre – I have a review coming in the next day or so, but suffice to say – it was a great night and a great end to a cold, wet, ill and busy week here in East Yorkshire!

Grateful For 

This week I am grateful for the joys of singing carols with friends at the Scouting/guiding carol service on Monday. I love christmas music and Monday, surrounded by familiar faces (and incredibly rowdy children of mine), I really felt the Christmas spirit and sang my heart out (mostly)! I am excited to celebrate and prep over the coming weeks!

I am also grateful for college pals that are supportive as our deadline looms and for yummy lunches out with friends.

Succeeded At 

This week we succeeded at getting the tree up and decorated and getting another handful of gifts purchased! I started our Christmas shopping at the end of November in a hope that I would be done by now, but alas – I still have another 4 or 5 gifts to get and Christmas is looming on the horizon (as well as Naths birthday next week!).

Yesterday we also bought a few things to make Poppy’s grave more festive and though that is always a hard task to do, we succeeded at it! We want to add a few more things, but to be honest it gets too much to do it all in one go. I was quite looking forward to doing it this year now that we have her headstone, and it was nice to choose things with the kids for their sister, but no sooner had we arrived and put them on, I wanted to leave again – it was weird! But we did it and I am glad to know she has some fresh and festive plants now.

Found Beauty In

The lovely lights and trees as we drive around are really beautiful! I also found beauty in seeing the kids help Grandma decorate her tree today and found beauty in singing carols.

I have a nuts week ahead with an assignment deadline, wrapping to do, Christmas plays to see, reviews to write and who knows what else! I am hoping to get myself organized and hoping that in the end its a successful and joyful week.

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This week has felt all rather festive with the commencement of Christmas shopping and then a Christmas fair yesterday in the village, that saw me “elfing around” with a couple of other mum’s as we manned the Santa’s grotto on the PM shift! It has been a cold and wet week and I have suffered a little with my health, but for the first time since Poppy passed away, I am actually feeling excited for December’s approach and Christmas time, and that feels really good! That’s not to say that the season won’t still have its struggles and moments of reflection, but I am embracing the christmas cheer and excitement that I am feeling right now and living in the moment.

Grateful For 

This week I am grateful for the fun I have had with friends. On Monday I went to Hull Christmas shopping and for lunch with a couple of them and it was great (albeit a little mad too!). On wednesday one of my pals invited me to “Pig Bingo” in the village – whilst not usually my scene to do Bingo, I thought it would be funny (which it was) and had a great time with her and about 50 old folk, all playing for gammon joints, stewing steak and sausages! It was one of the funniest, most random experiences I have had in a while and I am grateful for the laughs and random things like this that come with village life – it’s brilliant!

On Thursday Alice and I had a lovely time at soft play with one of my oldest friends and then on Friday one of my lovely friends kindly accompanied me on the train for an appointment and more shopping! Once again I am grateful for the people in my life; their kindness and banter – it’s great.

This week I have been grateful for my Joules wellies I got last year and rain coats. The weather has been pretty wet and windy, and I am thankful to have stayed warm and dry (mostly) on the school runs.

Succeeded At 

This week I succeeded at making a start on Christmas shopping! I am still stuck for ideas on a couple of people but I am pleased with the progress (and little bargains) I have already made.

We have returned to the old “Want, Need, Wear, Read” approach with gifts in our little family this year, but modified it to “Want, Need, Share, Read” – they have plenty of clothes and having them thinking about gifts that they can share with the family (ie a dvd, game or family experience ) I think is a lovely thing. It is an opportunity to draw on the idea of thinking of others at Christmas time and sharing in the joy of gifts together – it feels good to have some balance in gift giving and for it to not always be about “stuff” but sometimes spending time together and having fun with one another.

Last year I felt a little annoyed and regretful following Christmas and this week I have felt initially a little stressed about what to do regarding gifts for the kids, but as I thought about it, and considered our desire to have surprises as well as bring the magic too, the “Want, Need, Share, Read” approach (along with a small surprise and stocking from santa) felt like a good balance for them having something to be excited about (one want and santa surprises) and us being able to lower the amount of unnecessary stuff and expectations.We felt it would be minimal, yet exciting and fun for us all still.

Whilst last year I said I wouldn’t have lists, I have allowed them to choose 1 thing they most want so they can get excited about it and not be distracted over so many other things! The needs are things like dressing gowns, a new leotard or a water bottle or backpack at this stage in life (but will obviously change as they get older to maybe a bigger bike, a laptop for uni or simply a new pair of wellies!). And then, as I say, the share category will either be a family gift (a day out somewhere special, tickets somewhere) or a game they can share with friends and family or a DVD they love (that again they can watch with siblings and friends)! For Nath and I we will either incorporate it as a whole family gift if one year we want to do something bigger, but this year we have decided to choose a date for each other as our “something to share”, which might be go karting, a meal voucher, cinema or tickets somewhere. Finally who doesn’t want new books or a magazine subscription(or even a framed quote)? Something to read is also something to get stuck into come New year when things quiet down – they can get lost in a new adventure or learn more about something that interests them! Or perhaps it will be a wordy pic for our home or one day a kindle (when they can look after it). I want there to be an element of excitement over new books and things to read – be them stories, facts or otherwise.

I feel somewhat successful in settling on this new way to gift in our family and that makes me feel more content. It feels good to be getting a balance of magic/excitement for Christmas, as well as them learning about wants and needs and the importance of sharing with others and spending time with loved ones having fun. I feel like it is a tradition that can grow with us all, and have them excited each year for something we might share in as a family, as well as thinking really hard about just one special thing they might really want. I am glad that Nathan and I are doing it too for each other and planning special dates as well as thinking about what we might need and love! I am looking forward to seeing what we all give, get and share on Christmas day.

Found Beauty In 

With such miserable weather this week, and not feeling 100% ,it has been hard to notice the beauty around me – i’ll be honest. I suppose the one moment that stands out the most for me though would be when we saw someone walking a pony on the way home from school this week. The pony itself was really cute, and Megan’s confidence and excitement to approach it and interact was really lovely and beautiful! It was rather exciting.

We have had another lovely week, feeling thankful for country living and excitement for Christmas. I hope this week to crack on with more shopping, see friends and family and hopefully make a start on my first college assignment (3,000 words). I hope your week has been good too and filled with lovely moments.

 

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As the festive season approaches, I am frantically trying to put together lists, sort out the house and, generally just thinking about what gifts to get for those we love. From bits for the kids, to something for Nath (not to mention our siblings and families), there is always so much to think about at this time of year – but I love it too.

The number of presents to buy and the cost of them/how much we end up spending on other extra’s over the Christmas period, can soon mount up. And then, Just when you think you’ve got everything covered and are ready to put your feet up with a mince pie, you suddenly remember you’re doing Secret Santa at work this year (and there’s something about trying to source a gift at a set price for Denise in accounts that can send people into a mad panic).

If you’re stumped and don’t know what to get your workmate this year, then here are some thrifty ideas to hopefully get you inspired.

Get Crafty

If you’re arty, why not turn your talent to Christmas gifts? Should the recipient enjoy a brew, you could try making your own coasters or perhaps they’d enjoy some DIY candles? You could revamp a simple plant pot and add a little poinsettia in to give it a festive touch. I recently tried my hand at some pebble art – another lovely, personal, cheap and effective gift! 

Once you start crafting your Secret Santa gift, you’ll possibly find more people in your life who would appreciate your creations too – another way you could always save some extra pennies – make handmade goodies for your loved ones too.

Bake Some Treats

Should you love baking and enjoy nothing more than whiling away your weekends waiting for your yummy creations to prove, why not bake some festive biscuits, Mince pies or some gingerbread?  Christmas is perfect for delicious flavours.

You can purchase glass storage jars very cheaply at most home shops and, once you’ve popped your bakes inside, you can make them really special with a festive ribbon or decoration and handmade gift tag. Like the crafty gift ideas, this one again can be extended to gift ideas for others and could be a great excuse to invite friends over for a Christmas cuppa.

Savvy Stocking Fillers

There are so many lovely stocking fillers out there, many for under £10. From mugs to candles, slipper socks or quirky snow globes, there are trinkets to suit every personality in the office. I recently saw some fab ones in TK Maxx that were reasonable and funky, but if you are thinking of purchasing some stocking fillers with your Secret Santa budget, consider how much you can buy. While a £5 limit may initially appear to be too little, you can find one or two appropriate gifts for that price quite easily if you know where to look.

For the sentimental colleague, a photo frame for their desk could go down well, or if they love stationery, then personalised notebooks such as these from Card Factory are a thoughtful gift too.

Stocking fillers are also ideal if you don’t know the recipient super well and where you can’t think of something you know they’ll like, you can always opt to buy something they’ll use. Pens and keyrings are a handy and cost-effective option for the co-workers we rarely speak to, or again why not bake in bulk for all the office? 

Are you stumped for Secret Santa inspiration this year? Will you be using any of these tips to make sure you have your present sorted?

 

*Collaborative Post 

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Carvery in front of me on the table, and fire roaring to the side. We are in a small coastal pub on the cliff tops, and the kids are at school! It all feels rather idyllic and as I look across to my newly turned 37 year old husband, I can’t help but comment on how perfect this feels, and how good this little moment is together! Things aren’t perfect (whose lives are?) but this moment is.

Since being married to Nathan I always feel like his birthday is the official start for Christmas. Its the day when it all feels so much closer and exciting, and often the day when he starts his annual leave for the Christmas period. December the 21st is often the first proper moment we get with the busy season to properly just all be together and have some fun and relax a little, and I love it!

I adore Nathan (obvs) and I love the moments where we can have a whole day just chatting, planning, laughing, and being in each others company. I love when we can break from the ordinary and life can feel a little bit special. I basically love his birthday and its natural kick start to Christmas!

These last few weeks we have been all about shopping, wrapping and helping people. We’ve had nativities and various service projects, and the usual day to day stuff of a busy family life. Whilst these have all been great, they have also meant that we have barely seen each other. But then yesterday, following the kids carol service, it all seemed to slow down a little and we could just spend some time together – relaxing, eating and celebrating him!

As a result the house is out of sorts, and the laundry pile is ginormous, but it was wonderful to have a day together and feel so chilled and finally excited for Christmas!

Yesterday, as always, was our official start to a joyful festive week. Nathan is now off work for a week and the kids break up from school today (yipeee)! There are lots of presents wrapped under the tree, in the loft and at the back of my wardrobe (sshh), and we are ready and looking forward to sharing in the joy of the season, seeing our families and having so much fun as we create new memories together.

It’s finally beginning to look a lot like Christmas – and I can’t wait.

I am excited that for the first time in a few years, the season feels a little more light… a little more exciting and joyful, and I am glad to have all we do!

I am so thankful for our little family and the opportunity to celebrate Christmas together with lots of food and gifts, songs and praise. I am thankful for the small acts of kindness we have had the opportunity to do, to #lightheworld this Christmas. It has been a pleasure, a lesson and a great blessing. It has distracted me from the emotions Christmas usually stirs, and has opened the kids eyes to suffering and the needs of others. Now I look forward to having moments for me…to just be and reflect. I look forward to being able to decorate Poppy’s grave and dedicate some time to think of her. I look forward to planning for a new year and new me, but mostly just taking time out from the ordinary and day to day to enjoy Christmas!

This is my last post this side of Christmas (as I am sure you’ll understand), and last post I hope for a good week or so. It’s time to be with my family, clean my home and do those last little touches and acts of service. It’s time to switch off and connect with those here! I’ll still be on Instagram, sharing our moments, but other than that … all that’s left to say is, from our family to yours – We hope you have a very merry Christmas and a hearty life this season!

MERRY CHRISTMAS – I hope you get all you wish for!

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