Make Your Christmas More Creative

It’s easy to let Christmas take over your house, mind and wallet. Maybe it even instills a feeling of dread and an expectation that you’ll start the new year on the back foot in a bank overdraft. But there are many ways to upgrade your Christmas that don’t revolve around presents and decorations. Fun, personal and thoughtful touches will win every time! Here are some ideas to get those creative juices flowing, so that you can make some changes this year that’ll be more creative, fun, and also save you money – without compromising on time with loved ones.

A picture of Christmas accessories on a blue background with the title written in white.

Get crafty

If you’ve got a skill or talent that could be used to make a gift instead of buying one, this would add a personal touch and could save money (depending on the skill). If you’re a keen cook, why not offer to make a dish for Christmas dinner rather than buying everyone a gift? Perhaps you’d rather make a delicious dessert for everyone to share – it’ll be really appreciated, will help out the host and is something you can all share. If you’re more into sewing or painting, you may prefer to make small handmade gifts instead – just remember to give yourself enough time to complete them in the busy time leading up to Christmas.

Save money

Take advantage of cheaper options and make sure you shop around. If you have a particular gift in mind, see if you can get hold of it second hand – sites like eBay may have the same item either brand new or used – in many cases you might find one that’s been opened but never used, or still comes in the original box. Why spend more for no reason? Shopping around more could save you a lot of money! Just don’t forget that you may need to arrange your own courier which you’ll need to factor into your budget.

Take charge of Christmas games

Games are a big part of Christmas for many and a great way to bond with family. If games aren’t part of your Christmas day usually, why not give yourself the title of Games Coordinator, do some research and find a few easy games that’ll get you all working together and passing the time so you’ve got something to keep your mind busy when waiting for your food! 

If you’re already a lover of games, why not find a few new ones to try – perhaps you’ve got that one person that never wants to play and they need something else to get them motivated. If there’s a certain game that divides family members, try to find one that includes everyone and that appeals to their interests. Ask friends which games they play at Christmas time and steal any good recommendations!

New board games can be expensive so it’ll pay to shop around – a good tip is to look in charity shops or borrow from others. There are also so many games that only need a pen and paper or a pack of cards so you don’t need to spend a fortune!

Hopefully these tips give you some inspiration for cutting the cost of your Christmas this year and add a little sprinkle of creativity whilst saving you money!

*This is a collaborative post.

Home Education on a Shoestring 

This post discusses how you can save money on home educating and still provide plenty of home ed opportunities. It is a common misconception that home educating is expensive and unaffordable to most. However, many home educators successfully home educate on a tight budget and there are lots of ways to make home educating affordable. The truth is, home education can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. Plus with the money you would spend on uniform, trips and lunch money, school is not necessarily a cheaper option either!

It is a common misconception that home educating is expensive and unaffordable to many. However, there are actually various ways to cut the costs, and many home educators successfully home educate on a tight budget. Here are my top tips…

Trips and Activities

Join your local home ed facebook group

In many areas, home educators organise trips and activities together as a community, in order to access cheaper group entry charges or school rates. This often also includes educational workshops that wouldn’t otherwise be available to individuals.

Look out for discounts/ offers to local attractions

Find your local community magazine, join an online group that shares local information or sign up to attraction newsletters direct; whichever way suits you personally to stay up-to-date with the latest offers and discounts for local attractions. Some places also do free open days etc… that it is worth taking advantage of too. If you make a point of seeking them out, you’ll be amazed at how much you can actually save!

Research free places to visit

Following on from the previous point, there are lots of free places to visit, and events throughout the year, that offer great educational opportunities. From museums to sporting events, there is plenty to choose from without getting your wallet out.

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Form a co-op, or arrange your own groups/ activities

If you can find a free (or cheap) venue, many home educators lead groups and activities themselves, or with other members of the local community. You can play on each others’ strengths and expertise, plus pool together resources, which can be far more cost effective than paying for classes etc…

Resources at Home

Find freebies

There are lots of free good quality resources on the internet. Also check out freecycle for useful items that someone else no longer needs. Occasionally there is even old equipment from local schools up for grabs, if you know the right people!

Borrow

You can also borrow and swap with other home educators, which makes far more sense than investing in something that is only needed for a short term topic or limited age- range for example. And of course, there are libraries too!

Buy secondhand

There are dedicated home ed selling groups on facebook to find cheap secondhand resources. Charity shops are another place to hunt for bargains; there are some great finds to be had.

Sell the resources you no longer use

Obviously, as well as buying secondhand, it is also useful to sell your resources on if you no longer use them! Or hand them down to someone else who needs them, in a pay it forward type philosophy.

Make the most of subscription discounts

Some educational apps and websites charge an annual subscription fee. However, many offer a discount for home educators so be sure to find out before you sign up.

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Twinkl is great for educational resources

What About Income Though?

It is true that the loss of earnings can be a challenge. It is all very well finding ways to save money on the cost of home educating, but it doesn’t help if you don’t have any money coming in to begin with! (Note: Home educators are not entitled to any additional extra benefits simply because they home educate, and there is no funding specifically for home educators).

However, many home educators do also work. Firstly, it is important to remember that home education does not need to observe school hours and term times so there is flexibility as to how and when a full time education is provided. Secondly, there are various jobs that you can do flexibly working from home, or ways you can juggle home educating with working outside of the home. Here are some ideas…

Home Working

Just a few examples of jobs people do at home while home educating are; tutoring, childminding, workshops/ classes, blogging, making and selling crafts (e.g. etsy store) or other small businesses.

Working While Home Educating

Parents often share responsibility for home educating with each other, other family members or friends. Some use a childminder for part of the week, then focus on home education outside of those hours. Others take advantage of educational groups or childcare schemes that they can send their child to whilst they work. It is also possible to find evening or weekend work too. Bottom line is, there are various options available, much like you would choose at pre-school age.

Do you have any tips on how to finance home education? Or how to home educate on a budget? I would love to hear them!

Switching Energy Providers To Save Money

Roughly this time last year, we switched our energy provider to a clean energy company in a bid to make our lives greener. We chose to switch from British Gas to Good Energy via 38 Degrees Big Switch. We found it incredibly easy to do this, it seriously took no effort at all, and we saved alot of money this year in doing so.

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Unfortunately, the fixed tariff has now ended and the one we are automatically transferred to is a much higher rate, so it is time to switch again! We were kept well informed of this though; 38 Degrees were very good at sending out emails to ensure customers were aware, and to offer a new deal with a different company (Bristol Energy). 

If you don’t review your energy provider regularly to ensure you are getting the best deal, for example at the end of a fixed rate period, I really recommend you do so. The amount you can save is significant! There are lots of energy companies to choose from (including several clean energy providers) so it is worth taking the time to shop around and compare the various deals on offer.

There are also various companies who are using people power too, by joining consumers together to get a better collective deal, much like the one we did. These really take the time and hassle out of it all, whilst getting great savings. Google to check the latest one, as they are usually limited numbers and set deadlines.

The other thing to consider is thinking ahead in order to save money. I would imagine that you are more likely to find deals on installation, or home heating oil if you use it, now during the summer months than later in the year for example. So a little bit of planning now could help make savings in winter.


*This is a collaborative post.