Christmas can be an expensive time of year , but it doesn't have to cost as much as you think. I was proud of myself for ignoring all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday hype, but I do feel like we are being bombarded with special offers and promotions everywhere we turn. The real bargains are to be found in our local charity shops, jumble sales , bric-a -brac stalls at festive fayres, Facebook selling sites and reduced sections of the supermarkets. I attended our very posh annual Royal British Legion Mess dinner on Saturday. It was held at the Charlton House Hotel, and attended by 88 branch members, friends and family, local dignitaries and even the national chairman himself.
The occasion called for a very special frock, and I was lucky enough to pick up a gorgeous fancy ball-gown in St. Margaret Hospice charity shop for under £10. This week I am getting rid of clutter and making some crimbo cash, by selling pre-loved kids toys, clothes, shoes and handbags on eBay. Some unopened gift sets I will donate to the schools for their tombolas, helping them raise much needed funds. We are also doing a 'reverse' advent calendar. The idea is to add an item of non-perishable food to a box everyday of advent, and finally give the filled box it to a local food bank or homeless shelter for distribution to those in need. Martin Lewis from www.moneysavingexpert.com made a short film earlier in the year about the commercialisation of Christmas, and how we often end up exchanging 'tit for tat' gifts- which leaves everyone unhappy and out of pocket. Apart from close family, we shouldn't really have to feel obliged to buy gifts. Home-made crafts, cookies and cards often feel much more special. Or even agreeing 'not to exchange' gifts , can relieve both parties of a huge amount of stress and pressure. You could offer 'vouchers' to baby or dog sit. Swap used but good condition toys or books to each other's children. Whatever you do, don't get into debt, and don't give in to pressure. Do it your way. Keep it simple ! There are lots of fun, family friendly and free events coming up. The alternative Christmas Markets from 14th - 16th December, in Shepton Mallet with live music provided by Pocket Money Studios. Late night Christmas shopping , mulled cider and mince pies in Town Street, every Friday till 8pm ( then why not pop in to the new Ski Bar). Pop along to the carol services & nativity plays at local churches and local schools this month. Also The Chapel Dance Studio presents 'The Nutcracker' on Friday 7th December at 7.30pm .The Christmas Classic told in Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Song, at Whitstone School Hall, Shepton Mallet. It's free entrance, there will be a raffle, refreshments and a collection in aid of The League of Friends of Shepton Mallet Community Hospital.
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 :)