This time of year can be so fun and exciting, but for many it can cause extra stress and heartache. It may be money worries, or family disputes bubbling to the surface, missing loved ones who have passed away, or even just a fear of being alone. Please reach out for help if you are feeling low. You could go to your GP or just ring The Samaritans FREE on 116 123. Sometimes it’s silly things which get us flustered.
I had the Royal British Legion Mess dinner to attend, at The Bowlish House Hotel on Saturday. I was really stressed that I couldn’t afford a posh frock. In the very same charity shop where I bought my wedding dress, I eventually found the perfect ball gown for under a tenner! Panic over. Many parents will be feeling the pressure of providing ‘cakes’ and tombola gifts for school Christmas Fayres, as well as the kids Christmas presents.
Have a good hunt through the local charity shops, as you’ll find many brand new gifts , still in original wrapping for just a few quid. Look for things like pretty toiletries in gift sets. You’ll find a lot of crimbo decorations for just a few quid too! I baked ‘easy’ gingerbread biscuits with the kids for their school fayres, and also popped some in glass jars for presents. I always buy supermarket ‘Everyday’ brands to keep costs down. 1.5kg plain flour cost me just 57p and even if i cheated, a pre-made pack of iced fairy cakes is only £1.
We don’t spend a bomb on Christmas dinner either. Grandma always jazzes up basic stuffing mix with chopped apples and sultanas. I buy a large whole turkey or chicken and slap a few bits of streaky bacon over the top! If there are lots of us, we’ll ask guests to each bring a side or a dessert to share. Although it’s very clever, I try not to fall for all the advertising on telly, and certainly try to avoid getting into debt at all costs. My youngest, Harry ( 6) keeps seeing the Nintendo Switch games console advertised on TV. He very sweetly said “ I know you and Daddy can’t afford it, so I’m going to ask Santa instead.” Gulp !
Other ways to save cash include switching energy supplier or asking for a cheaper tariff. If you pay for electric on a key meter, see if you can get a normal meter installed instead,and make sure you claim the warm homes discount if you are eligible.
If you do find yourself in a pickle- with anything from finances, to housing or benefits and universal credit. Please pop along to your local Citizens Advice Centre. They’ve been a God send to our family, and I’m now training to be an advisor! The CAB give specialist, impartial and free advice. There is almost nothing, they can’t help with. However big your problems seem, they can help.
I'm a 43 year old, mum of two little boys- currently living in Shepton Mallet in Somerset. I'm the Founder and Creative Director of Radio Shepton, a Stand up and comedian and spoken word performer, and write a regular column for The Wells and Shepton Mallet Journal. Which is the basis for my blog usually. I lived in Swedish Lapland for 7 years until 2014 where my boys were born. My partner and I ran a husky dog sledding business. Before that I was a poet, radio presenter, media lecturer, writer, TV producer, actress and burlesque performer ! I never want my life to be boring :)