Setting goals (and slacking a bit) 

Setting goalsSo, here we are at the end of October already. Time to reflect on what we have achieved here at Shoestring Cottage. Except… I can’t review October’s goals since I forgot to set any! I can review my September targets and look at setting goals for November though 😀.

Reviewing September’s goals

In September my goal setting included uploading my new blog logo (done). Mr S designed it and I think it looks great!

I also re-painted  the lodger’s room, which looks much cleaner and brighter as a result.

The plan for the garden was to tidy up, weed all of the beds and dig over the veg patch. We did a bit but weekends have been so busy there is still much to do. I plan to spend my day off out there this week.

I had intended to end my Virgin TV and broadband package and perhaps replace with a Freeview box. In the end I decided to reduce the package as much as possible and go for a slightly slower broadband speed. This saved £38 a month and I really haven’t noticed a difference in internet speed.

Setting goals for November

So what will November bring?

Obviously, Christmas is fast approaching so I need to get the Christmas shopping under way. I have bought a couple of things and have money set aside but I need to get going properly. One of my goals for this month is to buy and wrap at least 50% of my presents. There are loads of Christmas cards in a bag on the wardrobe too. I need to sort those out and start to write some.

I intend to do some de-cluttering as well in our bedroom as a prelude to moving the furniture round. I love a good de-clutter. It is so therapeutic. Finding the time is always an issue, though, but I will get there.

As ever, I have stuff to list on eBay – a couple of bin bags full, in fact. I will try to do a few each evening.  The more I list the more I sell!

That feels like enough at the moment. What about you? Are you setting goals for November?

Super woman Saturday 

Sometimes there is too much to do. I feel like I need to be super woman to keep up!

Super womanThis week has been a busy one. As well as work, we have been dog sitting, as I mentioned in previous posts. Fortunately Mr S has done the bulk of the walking. I have also prepared and run two yoga sessions for colleagues. I loved this! It made me remember how much I love teaching.

Happily I have sold quite a bit on eBay so have been packaging that up in the evenings so that Mr S can post it for me.

Super woman cleaner

This weekend I have two houses to clean. I want to leave our friends’ house as spotless as we found it plus ours also needs doing.

I have a big bag of items to list on eBay and another big batch of soup to make for the freezer too.

There is a lot to do in the garden as well. Mr S has been cutting the lawns but we need to finish digging the veggie patch and generally tidying up.

Finally I want to spend time doing some work on the blog. I have been working really hard to improve it and make my posts as useful as possible.

Setting my priorities

I wish I could work part time to do all the things I actually enjoy doing! It can be exhausting to achieve everything. I am my own worst enemy I guess because there is so much I want to do.

In the end, I am not going to do it all this weekend so I will make a proper list and prioritise what needs doing the most. We need some fun and relaxation too!

What about you? Do you find life too busy at times. Do you need to be a super woman (or man) to get everything done?

Spend less: Avoiding unnecessary expenditure

As Christmas approaches, we are keeping the belts on a tight notch.  We want to avoid unnecessary expenses and spend less.

Spend less on entertainment

It’s lovely to meet friends and go to the pub or cinema, but even just a couple of drinks out costs a lot these days. Instead, we will invite friends round for a glass of ‘vin du supermarche’!

It is possible to get cheaper cinema subscriptions from time to time through cash back sites like  Top Cashback (who currently have £11.97 cash back for a Cineworld subscription) or Quidco, but we are already paying for Netflix, so will make the most of what’s on there and stay in.

Spend less on food

I have planned all of our meals for this week and will sit down tomorrow and do the same for next week.

Saving money on food is all about preparation in my view.  Make a meal plan based on what needs using up, write a shopping list, use a discount supermarket and don’t shop when you are hungry. 
Shoestring Cottage pumpkin harvestWe only have spinach and pumpkin left on our veggie plot but have a lot of frozen fruit and vegetables so I will be building some into the meal plan.

Spend less on toiletries

I never spend a lot on high end cosmetics and toiletries. I am not short of much as I got my recent beauty bargains. If I do run out I will go to Home Bargains. I am a fan of this shop. There is a great choice and everything is superb value for money in my view.

Spend less on hair care

I have mentioned this in previous posts, but I always touch up my own roots and sometimes even cut my own hair. I will be giving it a little trim and will save the trip to the hairdressers until next month.

Spend less on clothes

I would love to splurge on clothes, but I’m not even going to allow myself any charity shop stuff this month. I bought a couple of things from my favourite online fashion retailer Everything Five Pounds last month so I don’t need anything desperately. Maybe it is time for another wardrobe challenge? Wear it or get rid of it!

Spend less on travel

Driving is by far the cheapest way for me to get to work. Otherwise I would need to take two buses. This would also cost a lot of my precious time! However, I will try to reduce other journeys by using shops en route and walking locally.

I love autumn and really enjoy walking anyway. This week we are dog sitting for friends, so no reason not to walk.

Spend less on fitness

Relaxing in the hot tubAs well as walking, me and Mr S have been doing quite a log of yoga at home. This is free!

This is my plan to spend less for the whole of the rest of October and November.

In other news

We are enjoying our dog sitting this week. The house is beautiful, the dogs are lovely and they have a hot tub! I don’t know if I would ever be prepared to buy one, but it’s lovely for a change. It feels like we are on holiday!

The reverse advent idea I mentioned in a previous post has already begun at work. We already have a lot of contributions so I think we wil need several boxes. Other colleagues have taken up the idea, which I’m very pleased about.

I can look at how to spend less, but it is good to be reminded that other folk have things much harder and can’t spend anything at all.

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The winter blues – how to beat them and feel better

Do you suffer from the winter blues? As the days shorten and the nights draw in, I certainly do at times.

When you leave for work and it’s dark and you come home and it’s dark again, it’s easy to give into the doldrums. As the weather turns colder, you may have to brave the wind, rain, frost and ice to get anywhere.

On top of all that, the germs and viruses arrive in the form of coughs, colds and flu. It’s not surprising many people feel their hearts sinking as the winter blues start to set in.

The winter blues aren’t inevitable

So how can you beat them? As many people stay happy and healthy through the cold season the winter blues aren’t inevitable.

I have never officially been diagnosed with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). But I know I suffer from the winter blues and what helps me. The fatigue sets in first. I find myself wondering why I am so tired all the time. I get frustrated with myself for how little I am getting done. Then, if I am not careful, I start to feel low and grumpy. I have some strategies that keep the winter blues at bay.

Get outside

We are dog sitting for friends this week. We both miss having dogs and the house we are staying in is fabulous, so it feels like a holiday. Having dogs around is the best excuse to get outside to get some fresh air and daylight. This is exactly what is required to beat the winter blues. It would be so much easier to hide in the office at lunchtime than go out in the cold. But a brisk walk round the block is really helpful. Even without the dogs we try to get as much light as possible at weekends too, taking long walks and tidying up the garden.

I also  ventilate our bedroom, even as the temperature drops. Mr S hates a stuffy bedroom and having the window open a crack makes all the difference.

Exercise

Some kind of exercise is absolutely crucial if you suffer from low mood. I really doesn’t matter what you do, it really works. We like walking and yoga, and Mr S does a lot of swimming. However, if you prefer a run, a martial arts class, football or the gym, now is the time to get into a good exercise routine. If you can do your exercise outside in the daylight, even better! If you are interested in yoga, you can find properly trained teachers on the British Wheel of Yoga website.

Relax

yoga al frescoEasy to say, not so easy to achieve sometimes.  People think relaxation is simply stopping for a bit, maybe watching the TV. This can help if  you are always on the go, but if you are depressed or anxious it is better to have more of a strategy. You can slob in front of the box and still be very tense! When I am feeling low and stressed I do a short yoga practice, followed by some kind of simple breathing or meditation technique. A really simple one is as follows:

Sit quietly somewhere you are comfortable and unlikely to be disturbed. Ideally your spine should be reasonably upright. Close your eyes and watch your breathing. Just allow it to come and go without trying to control it. If you are very tense, you may notice that your exhalation is quite short. You can extend it slightly and bring your mind solely on the breath by counting slowly in for a count of four and counting slowly out for a count of 6. Try to keep your mind on the breath for a minimum of 20 breaths. When it wanders off, as it will to start with, just notice that and bring your focus back to your breath.

This is such a simple practice and takes very little time, although you can do this for several minutes.

I also use a free app called Calm. There are some lovely meditative exercises to work through.

Eat well

Eating well is important any time, but a well balanced diet is really important for good physical and mental health. Cut out as much sugar as possible and eat an absolute minimum 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Increase your intake of B vitamins by swapping from white bread and pasta to wholemeal. This doesn’t have to cost more. You can easily incorporate lots of nutrient packed food into your diet on a budget.

I also always have a high dose vitamin C tablet each day. I swear by this. When all around me are off with coughs and colds, the germs rarely hit me and I have a good immune system. I wait until they have a 3 for 2 offer on and get mine from Boots.

None of the above is anything more than common sense, but it is hard to get going when you already feel down. So start now whilst it is autumn. The clocks go back in the UK next weekend! Begin to look after your mental health before we lose the light and you can beat the winter blues.

If all else fails and you think you have full blown SAD, make sure you see your GP for help. You could also invest Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp for this. I have never tried one but my friend swears by hers. What are your tips to overcome the winter blues?

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My five frugal things this week 20th October

Welcome to this occasional round up of my frugal things for the week. It is a collaborative effort with some other bloggers and will hopefully give you a  bit of inspiration to be a bit more frugal when you need to.

Selling some old clothes on eBay

Some boots to sell on eBayMy daughter had a big clear out of stuff before she left for university and left several bags behind. I fished out some items I knew I could sell before donating the remainder to the charity shop. I have been slowly working my way through them and managed to get quite a bit listed this week. I found two pairs of ankle boots in excellent condition. One was a leather pair from Clarks and the other from New Look. They are barely worn. She clearly has more money than sense!

I managed to sell a couple of things this week too, but I have to stop myself browsing whilst I am on there and buying more clothes! I love a bargain and there are plenty to be found on eBay. You can read my post on eBay selling here.

Old fashioned frugal things: Apple picking

Home grown russet applesA few years ago the local council did a tree giveaway. We rushed to join the queue for this rare freebie and picked up a russet apple tree and some blackcurrant bushes. We have had crops of blackcurrants  two summers in a row, but this is the first time we have had a decent crop of apples. They are huge – delicious and crunchy too, with a nice sharp flavour. I have been out picking them so have saved myself money on fruit this week. Growing our own is one of our favourite frugal things to do.

Surveys

I have been exploring the money making possibilities of doing on-line surveys recently. My favourite so far is Prolific, as they only take a few minutes and pay quite well. I have managed to do three surveys for them this week, mostly in my lunch hour.  I have also signed up for Mingle, but that site is annoying me so far as you have to spend ages answering qualifying questions and then get told you aren’t right for them. This has happened three times so far – I can’t be bothered. It doesn’t happen with Prolific. They ask you enough questions when you first sign up and only offer you surveys you are pre-qualified for. My daughter has recommended One Poll as another survey company that pre-qualifies you so I have signed up with them too.

None of these will make a fortune, but for a few minutes every now and again you can make a few quid. I have £14 in my Prolific account and won’t withdraw it until January, when I am skint after Christmas!

Freebies

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had received some excellent Pantene hair care freebies from SuperSavvyMe. I got to test them and feed back and I have now been accepted for another trial. This time it is for Bold 2 in 1. A much more expensive washing liquid than I would ever buy normally, so I will be happy to give this a try. I think I am lucky to be selected for two trials. I am sure it helps that I have this blog and that I am active on Instagram and Twitter so they are likely to get a mention!

If you are into social media it is worth signing up. They give voucher codes and run competitions as well as the product testing.

I genuinely liked the Pantene products. I had Micellar shampoo with two types of conditioner. My daughter and lodger both tried them as well and were pretty positive about them.

Out with the slow cooker

Slow cooker beef casseroleI popped into Home Bargains – I love that shop – to buy my cat food as it is the cheapest place by far to get it. Whilst I was there I had a browse at the food and bought some stewing steak for £2.30.  As I suspected it wasn’t going to be the best, most tender meat I got out the slow cooker and made a delicious casserole. I can almost embrace the onset of the cooler weather when the slow cooker comes out! I love that you can chuck a load of stuff in it in the morning and it is transformed into something amazing by dinner time. It costs almost nothing to run and means you can use cheap cuts of meat to make yummy family meals. This made four generous portions.

So these are my five frugal things for the week. What are yours?

I’m linking up with this Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Check out what they have achieved this week and share your own frugal achievements

Reverse advent campaign: support your local food bank this Christmas

Reverse advent campaign

Reverse adventBy now, those of you who celebrate Christmas are probably in full swing making plans, buying presents, thinking of recipes, etc. But what if you had no money to spare for Christmas? What if you were jobless or homeless? Can you imagine how awful it must feel to be penniless at Christmas? Maybe you have been there.

With this in mind, how about making a contribution to the food bank this year? My team at the office are planning a reverse advent system. It works like this. You usually open your advent calendar and remove a chocolate, a toy – Aldi even does one where you get a mini bottle of wine each day! With the reverse advent you take a nice big box and every day you make a contribution instead.

Along with the usual staples such as baked beans, tinned fruit and vegetables, pasta and toiletries, we will be adding a few luxuries for Christmas. Fancy biscuits, good quality coffee, a Christmas pudding and maybe some creamy custard will all be making their way into our box.

Join us!

Reverse adventHow about joining us for the Christmas reverse advent? We will start mid-November rather than on the 1st December, so that we can deliver the goodies to our local food bank in plenty of time for the festive season.

If you want to find your nearest food bank and have a look at the list of suitable items to include you can visit the Trussell Trust. All should be non-perishable with a long end date. A typical food parcel from the food bank will include:

Cereal * Soup * Pasta * Rice* Pasta sauce * Beans * Tinned meat * Tinned vegetables* Tea/coffee * Tinned fruit

You can also check with your local food bank on the website to see what they are short of currently. It is a good idea to include some items of toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet roll or deodorant. The food banks don’t get many feminine hygiene products like tampons donated, so maybe some of those too.

Some more information from the Trussell Trust:

Thirteen million people live below the poverty line in the UK, with individuals going hungry every day for a range of reasons, from benefit delays to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income.

The Trussell Trust’s 400-strong network of food banks provides a minimum of three days’ emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK. In 2016/17, we gave 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis.

Many members of the UK Money Bloggers group will be promoting this campaign. You can read the original post on this here.

I love this reverse advent idea! Do you think you will be joining in?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Test your frugal habits with the thrift test

Frugal habits

Do you consider yourself savvy with your money or could you develop better frugal habits? Take the thrift test below to raise your awareness of which areas of your finances you need to improve.

  1. Do you know how much is in your bank balance right now?

    a) not a clue but I am probably overdrawn.

    b) yes, because I check every few days and budget accordingly.

    c) I have a rough idea as I take a look at my balance every now and again to see what I have left.2)

  2. Work lunches for you mean:

a) buying something on the hoof. I pop into a coffee shop or fast food outlet most days.b) a packed lunch. I always make one the evening before to save money.

c) sometimes I take a packed lunch but I don’t always have time.

3) What is your attitude to shopping for leisure:

a) I love it! Buying new things makes me feel good and I go into town or to the mall to shop most weekends.

b) I never shop for fun. I make my purchases when I am sure I need something and can afford it, and even then I shop around.

c) I know I can’t afford to go on regular sprees but like to look around the shops and make the odd impulse buy.

4) If you can’t afford something straight away do you:

a) buy it and stick it on your credit card. You can worry about how to pay it later.

b) do a lot of research online to find out the cheapest price for the item. Then either use your savings or save up. You will often try to buy second hand where possible.

c) If I really need it I buy it straight away, but have a quick look at some product reviews and prices first. I use a credit card but make sure I can pay at least the minimum repayment charges.

5) How often do you use cash back sites when you make your online purchases?

a) Never. I don’t know anything about them.

b) I always check to see if I can use sites like Top Cashback or Quidco before I make any purchase and get several hundred pounds back each year this way.

c) I have signed up but I often forget to use them.

* These are my referral links and if you sign up using them I will earn a small commission – thanks!

6) If you have to travel somewhere by train, do you:

a) buy the ticket as you get to the station.

b) purchase your ticket online several weeks in advance as you know you can save money. You consider different routes and buying two singles if that works out cheaper.

c) you know that you should buy your tickets in advance but often don’t remember until a few days before.

7) How do you keep your heating bills as low as possible?

a) I don’t really – as soon as I feel chilly the heating goes on.

b) I put on several layers and draw the curtains before I give in to turning it on and keep the thermostat as low as possible.

c) I try not to put it on too quickly but my partner or children often flick it on when my back is turned.

8) When was the last time you shopped around for a better mortgage deal, bank account or utility provider?

a) I don’t bother. They are all pretty much the same.

b) I check everything from my mortgage to my house insurance at least once a year.

c) I do it every now and again if I have time.

9) Your car is getting old and cranky. Do you:

a) Get another one on finance as soon as possible. I don’t really understand what they said about the interest rate but the car is shiny and red!

b) Look after the old girl whilst you save for another decent second hand model.

c) Get a loan from the bank to buy another car as soon as you can.

10) When you go grocery shopping, do you:

a) go in on the way home from work and buy what you fancy for the week.

b) Check what you already have in the stores, plan the meals for the week and then shop with a list.

c) I have a rough idea of what we need and usually take a list, but I don’t always stick to it and I am drawn to special offers.

The results to reveal your frugal habits

Mostly As

You don’t have to be a genius to work out that most As means your attitude to finance is so relaxed it is bordering on reckless. You rarely get a bargain and you don’t keep track of your spending. The chances are you have an overdraft and debts as a result. If you need to, you can get help and advice from the CAB, the Money Advice Service or Step Change.

Mostly Bs

You are a paragon of thrifty virtue, with fantastic frugal habits. You get the best value on everything you purchase, know how much money you have to spare to the penny and are likely to have a healthy savings account to prove it. We can all learn from you!

Mostly Cs

Let’s admit it, this is where most of us are. We love to get a bargain but don’t always do everything we could to save ourselves a buck. We can learn from the experts so that we can make the best of our money.

This is a light-hearted quiz with a serious message. Money really does make the world go around so understanding money

 

Eight of the best frugal food blogs to help you save money

best frugal food blogsI love food and experimenting with recipes and, just because I am on a budget, I don’t want to eat badly. Glossy cookbooks and food programmes are all very well, but sometimes require fancy ingredients that are expensive. This is why when I want inspiration I go to my favourite frugal food blogs. (Incidentally, some of my own frugal recipes are to be found here.)

Here are some of the best frugal food blogs, in no particular order:

Cooking on a Boot Strap

Master of the budget recipe is Jack Monroe. It started with A Girl Called Jack, but you will now find the blog at Cooking on a Bootstrap. What I like about Jack is the recipe descriptions – there is often a story behind a particular creation – and the way the cost of each recipe is so carefully calculated. The cooking here is all vegan now, but that makes it interesting and very cheap.

Frugal Queen

Jane at Frugal Queen is a legend. She is a huge inspiration to me and one of the reasons I began my blog. I enjoy her no nonsense approach to food and everything else. You won’t find any fancy recipes, just decent, cheap home cooking. As she eats gluten free, everything can be adapted for those with a sensitivity or Coeliac’s disease.

Diary of a Frugal Family

Cass at Diary of a Frugal Family is a recent find.  She emphasises the importance of meal planning, which is my mantra too for those attempting to stick to a budget. This is good, family food and includes plenty of delicious home baking.

Thrifty Lesley

Thrifty Lesley shows you how to feed yourself for £1 a day. The recipes are interesting and healthy too. Lesley uses very little meat, which is how her food is so cheap I think. This is a clever and well organised blog. She has written menu plans to help you stick to the £1 a day budget, whatever your circumstances. There is even a no power meal plan, aimed at people who have no power in their accommodation. This is serious stuff and really useful.

Reduced Grub

Kelly at Reduced Grub is well worth a visit. She has loads of recipes on her blog. They aren’t as cheap as some of the other blogs I have mentioned, but still good family food on a budget.

Utterly Scrummy Food for Families

A brand new blog to me is Utterly Scrummy Food for Families, which has an emphasis on budgeting and meal planning. Michelle presents plenty of inspiration and advice on using leftovers, reducing your food bills and producing delicious meals on a budget. I particularly fancy this potato and vegetable bake. My kind of frugal food blog!

The Skint Foodie

I love the Skint Foodie blog. It has some seriously sexy recipes for a small budget! This is extremely well written by someone who has struggled with alcohol, homelessness and unemployment. He wanted to prove that eating well wasn’t the preserve of the wealthy, that planning and imagination meant he could still eat fabulous food with very little money. It is witty, informative and eye opening.

Frugal Food

Faye’s blog, Frugal Food, does what it says on the tin. She focusses on producing frugal meals with quality ingredients. Being frugal doesn’t have to mean being cheap! Some recipes are quite adventurous, but sound delicious, such as Toro Rosso pie, made with minced beef and Hungarian sausage hot pot.

Which frugal food blogs inspire you? I hope you enjoy my suggestions and have a frugal foodie weekend.

 

 

 

This week’s beauty bargains

I love a good deal, as you know, and this week I have been fortunate to get hold of some beauty bargains. (You might also like my posts on budget beauty  here and here.)

Freebies from the Savvy Circle

beauty bargainsA while ago I signed up with P&G’s Savvy Circle. The idea is that you can sign up for product testing of new P&G products. You receive freebies to try yourself and share with your friends. The company asks you to feed back via their blog and hopes you will spread the word on social media too.

I applied to try Pantene’s new Micellar hair care range and the products arrived yesterday. I’m always up for a freebie, but I didn’t expect such a generous package. They sent two bottles each of shampoo, conditioner and leave-in foam conditioner! Also in the parcel were some money off vouchers to pass to friends and family and some feedback forms.

I have already tried the shampoo and liquid conditioner and they seem lovely. Conditioners that leave my hair feeling greasy and heavy are a turn off but this one feels very light.  My daughter and my lodger are going to try them out too. I have signed up for two more campaigns for Bold and Olay. There is no guarantee of getting accepted for anything, so I will have to wait and see what happens.

Supermarket beauty bargains

beauty bargainsI popped into Asda after work to get a few bits and discovered a new range of makeup from George. It looks great and the prices are amazing! I needed a new mascara, rouge and concealer and bought all three. The mascara was £3 (on offer, so I bought two), the blusher – a really big pot – was £5, the small solid concealer was just £2 and the liquid concealer was £4.50. I resisted the foundation as I don’t need any, but that was on sale at an introductory price of £4.50.  I regret this now, so might pop in and buy some if I am passing. These are great prices! I haven’t tried anything properly yet so I will report back and perhaps do a review on another post. Also in the range are lipsticks, nail varnish, powder, eye pencils and shadows, etc.

I am pretty pleased with my beauty bargains. I don’t spend a fortune on cosmetics and toiletries as I can’t afford to, so freebies and low prices are the way to go.

Do you belong to any cosmetic testing organisations or any freebie sites? Has anyone else tried the George at Asda makeup range?

 

 

Eco friendly Christmas gifts

Don’t shout at me for mentioning the festive season in October – it soon creeps up! I have already started buying and have been looking at some eco friendly Christmas gifts.

Christmas has felt like a bad consumer melt down for me in the past. Too many people buying too much stuff and spending way too much money. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I enjoy all of the opportunities it offers for people to get together, the giving and receiving,  the cooking and eating  of delicious food.

However, I dislike the general excess. People spending money they can’t afford, buying mounds of food that won’t get eaten, trashy, over the top decorations and the pressure folk feel to produce the perfect experience. I am already hearing parents stressing because they cannot get this year’s most popular toy and fighting for them when they arrive in the shops. Most of all, I hate spending money on trashy presents that won’t be appreciated.

Because of this, I try to make sure the recipients of any gifts I buy really want them. If that means taking away the surprise, then so be it. I also try to buy some items that are eco friendly. Usually small things for my daughters that will replace something that causes a lot of waste. With this in mind, here are my suggestions for inexpensive eco friendly Christmas gifts. I am dreaming of a green Christmas!

I am going for a frugal Christmas, so none of the suggestions below will break the bank.

Eco friendly Christmas gifts

For their stocking fillers, I have bought my daughters some stainless steel reusable straws. Plastic straws are thrown away after one use which is incredibly wasteful. I have ordered them from Lakeland, at £5.99 for 8 straws with a cleaning brush.

I hope they don’t read this, as I have also bought them some reusable Magic Makeup Removing Cloths from Amazon. You can remove all makeup with just water. The reviews suggest they really work, so I am excited about these. I have ordered myself some too.

If you have a nature loving friend or family member, Friends of the Earth have a cute bird feeder in their shop. You can stick it to your kitchen window and watch the birds feeding as you do the washing up! Love this! At £13.99 it won’t break the bank.

I know this isn’t a glamorous gift, but I would be happy to receive these Ecoegg Re-Usable Bamboo Towels. You can wash and reuse rather than buying kitchen towels.

I have never tried these, but my lodger has one – how about a Bamboo Toothbrush? She is very happy with hers. It remains to be seen how long it will last, but you are supposed to change them every three months so it should do that.

I have various plastic lunchboxes that I take to work, but maybe a stainless steel one would be a better option. Ideally, it should be air tight so that you don’t have to use plastic wrap as well. There are lots of different options online, but some of them are horrendously expensive. One was over £80!! Not on my budget…. Many were under £10 but looked cheap with poor reviews. This one seems a decent mid priced one and has excellent reviews.

For the kids, how about some recycled colouring pencils made from rolled up newspapers? I found these on eBay. Pencils and recycled paper crafts make great eco friendly Christmas gifts.

When I was at the SHOMO Awards recently, I met Zoe from Eco Thrify Living. She had bought her own reusable coffee cup with her, which I thought was such a sensible idea. I have found a similar one from Evolution Organics that I will be putting on my Christmas wish list. I have several china ones but they aren’t really practical for carrying around with you.

Buy an experience

Regular readers will know we had a lot of experiences given to Mr Shoestring for his 50th. My favourites were the afternoon teas. Who wouldn’t enjoy a big plate of cake? Of course, there are all types of experiences you can purchase and you can find some of them at buyagift.co.uk. I think these are a good idea for people who already have too much stuff.

Buying books

I also like buying books as these will tend to be read and passed on – not just binned. Coffee table type books are pretty but I avoid them as they tend to be leafed through and forgotten. I only buy books for people I know well or where someone has requested a book they really like. If you are considering books as presents, check out the Book People first. They have collections that are so cheap and fantastic for presents. When my children were smaller, I would buy the collections of kids books and separate them up to give in a party bag rather than loads of plastic rubbish. I also buy second hand books for stocking fillers.

Gift vouchers

If you don’t know what to buy, don’t buy anything. Rather than spend on something that might not be appreciated, choose a gift voucher instead. The other advantage of gift cards is that they don’t involved loads of packaging and gift wrapping. You can buy discounted cards from Zeek, so you can save money too. If you use my promo code you will get £3 for free. I generally use my gift cards, but if you have some you know you won’t get around to spending, you can sell on Zeek too. It’s a genius idea.

Does the waste and excess at Christmas leave you cold too? Will you be exploring some eco friendly Christmas gifts instead this year?

 

Disclaimer – this post contains affiliate links, but all opinions are all my own. Using an affiliate link will not affect you in any way. It will help to support the blog as I will earn a small commission if you purchase anything via an affiliate link.  Thanks!