The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Revisiting Christmas.

My Vicky Challenge last week was a bit quiet. I didn't have any major bargains at all!
I wrote in my savings book though that I had $100 in savings from packed lunches and $300 in the painting I did for the week.  So that is $400 I recorded.

Luckily I have other stuff to talk about or that would be the most dismal blog post ever!

My savings subject this week is "Revisiting Christmas" as Vicky would say. Like anything else we can go along doing the same things for years and years but a revisit or review can be a very good idea.

Christmas can be tricky because many things are family traditions and any change will cause a revolt.
But Christmas should be wonderful and not a nightmare and certainly not something that goes on the credit card or ruins your budget.
A review is good.
Hopeful the Christmas Challenge has helped you get ahead and make lots of things towards your gift giving. And we still have quite a bit of time yet. In October I begin making Christmas cakes and so now is a good time to think about what I am, and maybe are not going to do, this year.

Making cakes in October is fantastic as they improve with age and then there is less cooking to do in December. A whole heap of gifts are made.

Last year I had a bit of a review. Dried fruit is fairly expensive and this cake does cost quite a bit to make. I was making four double batches. So last year I cut it right down. I made them for Andy and for Dad and a set of mini cakes in Texas Muffin trays. I individually wrapped those.  This was a lot less that usual.

(The recipe for this cake is here.   )

I realised I could give a giant round of shortbread (which looks and tastes really good!) for a lot, lot less.
Also my coconut ice is much less expensive and the kind of thing you only need a small amount of as it is so rich. So small slabs of that seem big!

A review of the food you buy and what you cook can really be a good idea!  Over the years prices change! The number of people we are feeding and giving to can change a lot as well. The choices are more also. Once we could buy a turkey. Now we can buy turkey in all sorts of cuts and sizes and the same goes for most of the foods we buy.

The same applies to food we might be contributing to an event or going to someone else's home. This used to be a bring trap for us. Generous and delicious doesn't have to me it cost a fortune. Andy used to contribute trays of seafood to a family event costing him a fortune.  Some of my ideas presented he thought we great i.e. giant potato salad, tray of baked veggies, spectacular layered trifle dessert, beautifully presented Pavlova with berries...  all which came out at $10 and under versus the $150 he was spending!

My revisit so far this year has had me decide to change my wrapping paper theme. I love gifts to look really nice.  Over the years I have had all kinds of themes. One year I had white and sparkles. Another year I had brown paper and rustic. Another was pale blue and silver. One year I did silver and pink.

This years theme is "everything that is left over from all the other themes!"
Yes there will be a sea of differently wrapped gifts. They will still look nice. I have plenty of paper and ribbons to use up!

Another is I am not buying any decorations! No matter how gorgeous they are!  The last couple of years I have used things I have found to decorate with, apart from my collection from over the years.

I picked up pinecones at the farm and sprayed them and I collected deer antlers as well which looked lovely.

The year before I decorated my parcels with gum nuts I collected. This looked nice and was basically free (except for some glitter)

Laine's words have always stayed with me. It is more important to stay within your budget than to give fancy gifts.  She was clear on that. I think of it often. In her story she was in a difficult situation where she needed a gift and only had $3 left (from memory I think it was $3!) and she made it work!

Table settings and floral decorations can also be things you have. Bowls of glittery gun nuts would be beautiful! One year I used bottle brush (This is bright red for the US and UK ladies) and I have used deer antlers, pine cones and garden flowers. You can also use decorations you have. I saw a table settling that was a row of little glittery houses and twinkly lights. It was the ladies collection from over the years and instead of keeping it on a shelf she made it into the table feature. Beautiful!

A review of the gift list is another. There could be a few on the chopping block. I am feeling brutal and think if I have had no acknowledgement or thanks in two years from gift giving then I would rather give to charity.

And charity is another one! A couple of years ago we had a serious review about this. Many are not in fact charities at all. When the CEO of a charity is driving a car that costs more than your house then I think you can smell a rat. We decided to cut out the middle man and found ways to give that we know everything is going to someone who really badly needs it. We feel know we are doing a lot more good.

Could we give a family gift rather than individual ones?  Are there expensive parts of Christmas that we can change in some way?

My childhood memories of Christmas are beautiful! The best things to me were... the anticipation! The fact that Father Christmas (Pa) repainted the swing set every Christmas Eve. The carols and lights on the  houses and sitting under the Christmas tree.
Chloe and Lucy tell me their best memories were the drives we took to see the lights and eating supper under the twinkly tree.
mmm all these highlights were basically free stuff!

Lets have the best Christmas ever and do it in such a way that come January 1st we are starting a new year without any kind of burden from December spending.

How did your Vicky challenge go? (Or how did your savings go last week?)

What are your savings tips for December? What areas do you feel cost you too much and how could you change these?
One thing I know for certain... last minute shopping is the worst! When we are in a hurry and desperate we are more likely to pay something we wouldn't normally consider. So that is one reason I do everything I can early.

Potentially a revisit here could be a big saver. I hope so!

Have a good new week! xxx


  1. Dear Annabel. Well you know that this is one of my favourite topics EVER. I was only thinking this morning that it was time to start my Orchids on your Budget Christmas series, and here you are getting the ball rolling! I agree that there comes a time when all Christmas traditions need an overhaul. We recently started a Kris Kringle tradition in our family, as nearly all of our children are grown. So each of us now only buys for one couple in the family. Of course I add little trinkets and food items for individuals, but the only ones getting a BIG Christmas are the ones under 18. And there's only four of them! Also food got an overhaul, and we all pitch in and choose a theme. Last year it was Downton Abbey and we enjoyed figs stuffed with camembert, and roast beef, with a lavish silver and blue table setting. I think this year it's Tapas and a fabulous red taffeta and black lace setting using Flamenco dancers costumes as our inspiration. This makes for a much more relaxing time, that is still festive, and all the thought and energy goes into creating a beautiful table, not with food, but with decorations. Who wants to spend all of Christmas Day (especially in our heat) in the kitchen! Gifts for extended family are a must for us or, as you say, there'd be a riot. But those gifts are smaller, hand made or home made, and more about thought and planning, than spending. It's good to have a relaxed Christmas and not be dreading the credit card bill. How much nicer is everything without money worries! Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi,
      I will really look forward to that series! Imagine if Christmas went back to the old times ways! Just joyful and spreading kindness and goodwill! Nothing to do with credit card debt! I love Christmas and like you think it can be just beautiful, the best ever even, without the major costs.
      I can't wait for the series. Planning it is half the fun! Thank you for this, with love

  2. Annabel, file this wrapping idea for next year. Brown paper wrap, string ribbon, & the to/from tag is a black and white picture copy of the recipient as a child. My friend did this last year with her grown kids and siblings and everyone loved it. It looked really good.

    1. Dear Debby,
      That is a gorgeous idea! I love brown paper and black and white too. I love it! Thank you! With love

  3. HI Annabel, first time poster yet I always read your blog and enjoy it immensely. I agree 100 percent with your comments. I used to spend a lot at Christmas, so I went down the list and started evaluating. My brothers and I used to ship gifts across the US. One year I wrote them and said, can we stop this please? When I come visit, we can go out for dinner or I will bring you something local. And they loved it. Saved me about $250, and that was the biggest expense. My husband and I did the same thing. My three best girlfriends also agreed to stop the madness and now we see each other in person every few years and exchange small interesting gifts rather than the usual Christmas items. We don't have kids or other close relatives so that helps. I also changed my charity to give more directly. It works and I still have a lovely Christmas. Thank you for this blog today, it is good to remind us to think about what we do.

    1. Dear Hilogene,
      Thank you so much for telling me you read and for commenting. I really appreciate it and this is an area that your words will encourage others to think it over and make new arrangements!
      I have also had to change my mail and posting gifts. Last year I posted a lot of gifts as I really wanted to. But one of the most expensive to post internationally never arrived plus of course it wasn't just the postage that was wasted but a big gift i had made. I was so disappointed plus embarrassed the gift never arrived. This year I will still send things but I have an envelope size rule. It can be A3 for international or A4 for Australia. I have to stick to this. The cost has just become ridiculous. SO I am being very creative with small items that I can post!
      Thank you for sharing what you did! It could be a relief to many! With love

  4. Annabel, I don't think you could write a dismal blog post if you tried. You've shared some really good tips on not breaking the bank but still having a festive holiday season. I too, am not buying any new decorations this year and am also using what I have on hand to make the gifts look festive. Your post was a good reminder of the goals I set last year for this upcoming holiday season.

    1. Thank you! Well I hope you have the best Christmas ever and all using what you have already with style and inventiveness! This will be fun and planning it is a big part of enjoying it! I will have a lot of DIY Christmas posts coming up! Many thanks, love

  5. Some wise words there, Annabel. Christmas has become a nightmare for many people unfortunately. Our Christmas when we were growing up was very simple and I am not sure when it all got out of hand. We have never gone into debt and I think even the idea of going into debt to buy presents is absolutely ridiculous. Keeping the celebration simple and frugal is the key and you have shown perfectly how it can be done.

    1. Dear Nanna Chel, I have often heard people say terrible things about Christmas and its just stress to them and they get no joy from it at all. Its tragic. Every year I say the cure is to do things for others that are lonely or in difficulties and the you will have a nice Christmas. Thats the Christmas spirit. Its not found in a department store! haha
      I am looking forward to it now and thees lots of time to plan but no its not about spending big at all! With love

  6. Annabel, you are like a guru. The words you speak are so interesting and true. I have also found that charitable work is better done at grass roots level. I prefer to do that now too. I am not sure what we are doing for Christmas this year after the big upheaval but I have been making the odd thing here and there. Debby that gift tag idea is a great one. How much joy over the tags if you used really special sentimental shots. I'm going to do that for sure. Have a great week. Fi xx

    1. Dear Fiona, You made me laugh but thank you!
      Charitable work as you say at grass roots level... the donation to a big charity where most of the money never actually helps anyone has another terrible effect.... you never get to see the persons face, the help or the miracle of your gift. You basically miss out entirely! With giving to someone directly somehow you see what happens, what difference it makes, the whole thing. It is so much more fun and wonderful. It makes it real. There are often tears and friendships formed and all kinds of good things. We don't need some corporation doing it for us! Madness.
      I hope you can build a Christmas that celebrates getting through a very tough year. You are very creative and a fantastic cook so you are way ahead on lovely possibilities! With lots of love

    2. Fiona, thanks for the compliment even though I was just passing on the idea. I was excited to share because I thought it so clever.

  7. are very generous and I have learned a lot from your clever ideas...I do not give many gifts at Christmas but something that I think makes me really happy is to be able to spontaneously gee a gift to someone "just because" when you have frugal habits and are creative it costs next to nothing to do have a finger on the pulse of what is important....thank you

    1. Dear Jan,
      Thank you so much. I totally agree that being able to give to someone who could really use some kindness is just lovely. That right there will make Christmas feel wonderful. Doing these things is the cure for anyone who doesn't like Christmas. Instead of waiting for a Christmas Miracle BE someones Christmas Miracle. Then its just going to be beautiful! Many thanks! Love

  8. Hi Annabel!

    I do believe in 'circling the wagons closer'. I discovered that people that I was giving to, in everyday life, were actually better off than myself!!!!! I also discovered that some 'friendships' are one way! When we have the right motives in giving, not expecting anything in return, we can be blinded to the futility, in some cases! My current focus is our household and near family. I say that the best way to help others is to get on with my own life. Out of that, I hope to have gifts to give out of the increase the Eternal graciously gives me.

    For instance, yesterday, I stepped forth and made two batches of Dad's Citrus Jam, using some of his produce with some of ours. I had it cut up and soaking the night before (funnily, finishing by lamplight, and not knowing that juice was running off the cutting board and over the table edge .. until I felt it dripping onto my foot!! Ah, dear! That mess didn't last long!) Anyway, this reduced sugar, wood fired jam worked very well, with the second stage fuelled by thorny sticks, which go a long way! Without a reliable freezer setting test, and half expecting it to be runny, I was really pleased to find that it came out of the gas water bath and set nicely. My husband approved of it, which is pretty good. This morning, he even said, "Are you going to send a photo to Annabel?" I recycled jars, and likely spent less than three or four dollars on sugar and gas. For half a day's work, my increase is about fifty dollars in value, and I am on my way to having good things to give. The point is, if people have no increase themselves, how can they give? The other point is that, if you're not sure about citrus jam, try a wood fired version!

    Besides the point, today I saw my first snake for the season, as well as a majestic sulphur-crested cockatoo and a tiny bird nesting inside a sand pile! The weather has been quite windy, at times. So there!

    With warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

    1. Rachel,
      I can hardly wait to make the citrus jam. With fall and winter to follow citrus will be in season. I'm hoping that even with the volatile weather we've had in the U.S. that we'll still have a good citrus crop. Blessings. Cookie

    2. Dear Rachel,
      You made a good point.... I thought yes it is often good to revisit friendships. One way friendships aren't friendships at all. Ahhh a review is good in all areas.
      I also liked what you said about increase. Thats what all our work does... like with the jam. And with all cooking, gardening, crafts etc we increase basics into all kinds of wonderful things! This enables us to give. Its lovely!
      Love the cockatoo, not so much the snake!
      I agree with your husband (I loved to hear that) sending me a photo is a very good idea! I love your photos and welcome them anytime! Tell your husband thank you!
      With lots of love

  9. Christmas used to be a nightmare for me (as Nanna Chel said), but then I read this book called "Unplug the Christmas Machine." It really helped me evaluate the pluses, minuses and costs of Christmas (both financial and emotional.) It revolutionized Christmas for me. Maybe it would help someone else, too.

  10. Christmas used to be a nightmare for me (as Nanna Chel said), but then I read this book called "Unplug the Christmas Machine." It really helped me evaluate the pluses, minuses and costs of Christmas (both financial and emotional.) It revolutionized Christmas for me. Maybe it would help someone else, too.

    1. Dear Cristy,
      Well done Cristy! I am so glad for you. Thank you for the suggestion. I will check into this book! IT is true, we need to choose the bits that we love and suit us and that we believe in and discard the bits that are damaging and miserable to us! Well, well done! With love

  11. I am loving this blog. Christmas used to be a simple affair for my children and I when they were small. I remarried and boy did it get out of hand. Thank you for Revisiting Christmas, my heart will surely be more into it this year.

    1. Dear Laurie,
      I really hope for you that you can find a way to get Christmas back in hand for you. We all have to merge traditions with our husbands families and all of that. It can be really hard. I think a lot of us would have faced these issues. I hope this Christmas will be wonderful for you! With love

  12. What a wonderful post, Annabel! I much prefer a simple Christmas. I've received opposition from my MIL though, and it makes it tough. I try hard though! Here's my Vicky Challenge for this week...finally joining in!

    1. Dear Jenn,
      I hope you can manage the fine line of doing things your own way in your own household and your MIL can still be happy! Ahh not easy maybe!
      I think this is a big thing. Ultimately we have to decide our own family plans and what traditions to keep and what to change. Sometimes that is going to be hard but I have heard of many families having an awful Christmas because of feeling forced to do things they don't even want to be doing! Well done on reviewing and making things more simple that suit you! Stick to it! :) Plus all your handmade goods are wonderful gifts! With love

  13. Dear Annabel,
    Thank you for today's post as it evoked some really sweet memories of Christmases past and how we celebrated them.

    One of the things we are revisiting this year is the sending of Christmas cards. We've pretty much decided that a phone call or email will take the place of the cards. Gifts in our family have always been handmade with love. So the Christmas challenge with all the sharing of ideas has been a real bonus. Love Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie,
      I can imagine the beautiful gifts in your family knowing what stunning things you create! Postage has gone up a lot here so this is an issue I am considering as well! I hope you are having a good week! With love

  14. Dear Annabel , Thank you for another lovely post . I loved this post because I love Christmas and I am determined to make this Christmas a special and frugal one. I am not going to spend a lot of money on gifts, I will make my own cards using craft supplies I have here and I am going to make as many gifts as possible. I am also saving for Christmas too, so I can spend a little bit of money on after Christmas sales to replenish my stocks of wrapping paper etc. I will also be on the lookout for gifts for birthdays and Christmas for next year!..
    For my Vicky challenge :
    Meals from my parents $40 savings
    Subsidised cleaning and social support ( for errands / shopping) $50 saving
    Stayed home at least three days , saving at least $70 on taxi fares and unnesseccary shopping .
    Received some home baking from mum , saving $10
    My Vicky challenge total this week is $170, a rather small amount but it is something!.
    Thanks again for a beautiful post Annabel. Love BarbW.

    1. Dear Barb,
      Thank you very much Barb! I love christmas too and we can certainly make it wonderful without blowing the budget! Getting started now is great as it give you time to make lots. I want to tell you I always give Chloe's budgie a Christmas present! Haha! His name is Houdini!
      There are so many little things we can do to make Christmas special. I hope yours is going to be lovely! With love

    2. Dear Annabel, that is so sweet that Chloe has a budgie named Houdini and very kind that you give Houdini a Christmas gift. Last Christmas was pink and Floyds first Christmas and I gave them gifts and my nieces wanted to unwrap them so they did so at our family Christmas gathering and proudly presented the toys to pink and Floyd.I will be buying them gifts again this year or making them some more toys. Love BarbW.

  15. The last three Christmas's have been spent at my brother and his family's home. Various other siblings and friends and relations have also been there. We all put in and provide various foods so that the table is full of what everyone loves. Bluey and I take the seafood as we have a neighbour with a prawn trawler and get these delicious handfuls of yumminess for a really good price.
    My SIL is very good at asking those who don't step forward to provide a particular meat for the Barby or the Webber. Everyone gets together in their large country style kitchen and gets the food ready for the table. The men cook the meat outside.
    Presnts are provided for everyone, many homemade, but no one goes overboard. There are only a few little people left and they get spoilt big time by Aunties, Uncles, Grandparents and big cousins. Cricket is played in the large yard, footies are kicked around. Lots of lazing around on the verandas and under the wisteria pergola take place. We have a fully family orientted Christmas with no one feeling like they have the major load to carry. It really is lovely and we are a blessed family.
    We have it so often at my brothers as he is a Careflight helicopter pilot and is on call over Christmas. This way he gets to join in on festivities and can call upon this joy when he has to deal with someone elses tragedy.

    1. Dear Jane,
      A neighbour with a prawn trawler! The more I hear about your place and location the better it gets!
      I love the sound of your Christmas! Just lovely! I hope this one will be wonderful for you all. With the gifts I know you make the presents would be beautiful!. With love

  16. Annabel,
    I do hope everyone is not upset with me for being MIA the last few weeks I apologize ladies. We are finally done with the gardens and any canning now will be what I call "trickle" canning you know the things that trickle in here and there, but need processing in some way.
    Revisiting is always good and this is an excellent post! There needs to be a balance between being generous and doing so affordably. Your coconut ice is so pretty! It looks soft and fluffy, is it?
    It was a great week! Between Rick's fixing things, coupons, samples, gift cards, sales and clearance finds our total was 1500.00. I was also gifted 3 boxes of books, bing points were used to get the boy a years subscription for Xbox Live and I got a $50 gift card for being part of a focus group. We added quite a few things to the gift trunk for free or really cheap. I have changed the way I gift a little bit too, for example my grandbabies get so many toys that I don't think they even play with half of them so I am not buying them toys this year. Too much is just too much! Like you I am using up what I have. It is going to be a great holiday I just know it!
    Rachel your Citrus jam sounds so good! And don't feel bad I had a mess all over my foot this week too! My son's puppy was happy to see me and tinkled all over my foot! LOL!

    1. Dear Vicky,
      I know you have been flat out busy! And you have to do what you were doing with canning while the produce is fresh!
      But saying that it is nice to have you back!
      Coconut ice is pretty colours but it is thick and dense which is why you cut it into small pieces. It is yum!
      Wow to your week! That is an awesome week! Plus the gifts put away is a big bonus. Practical gifts are good when too many toys are given. It sounds like your Christmas is shaping up already! With lots of love

    2. Hi Vicky,
      So glad to read your post and all of your savings. You're so right "too much is too much"
      As I recall you're saving empty food cans too. I was wondering what you decided to do with yours. We're finally going to have a day of optimal weather for spray painting. I'll be doing some of mine copper, silver and some chalk white and use them for candle holders. While cleaning the craft and sewing room I came across a large supply of some scented pillar candles and plan on using them in the cans for Christmas decorations in our house as well as some for gifts. I also made some "chunky" candle holders by placing a tuna can upside down, supergluing a soup can to it upside down and then gluing another tuna can on the top right side up to hold the candle. I'm with you -- it's going to be a great holiday season. Blessings. Cookie

    3. I missed you, Vicky! It's good to have you back!

    4. Thank you Rachel! I missed you too!

      I am thinking about painting the cans and using stencils to make a letter on each can that spells out my son's last name and attaching them to a thin board so it can be hung on the wall and if I remember maybe putting some little hooks on it for keys and things.
      Your candle holders sound really nice!

    5. Vicky
      I love your idea. I hope you'll share a picture of it. Cookie

  17. Hi Annabel,
    Our Christmas has changed dramatically over the past few years. With both of our sets of parents now gone, our daughter living overseas and with my brother and SIL both often rostered to work(essential services), Christmas has become a much quieter affair - thank goodness for our two little grandchildren to liven things up!
    I love Christmas decorations, so spend a lot of time decorating the inside of our home - one of our favourite traditions is to drive the streets looking at all the Christmas lights.
    Last year I made quite a few Christmas gifts, but this year, I think I'm pretty close to having made all the gifts, thanks to the encouragement and ideas from participating in your gift challenge, Annabel. I do hope it will continue next year.
    'til next time,

    1. Dear Janine, Well done! And there is still some time to go yet!
      I am so aware of Christmas changing that each year we get our family traditional Christmas at the farm I am so grateful for it!
      It doest matter your age I don't think, the lights are so beautiful! Much love

  18. Dear Annabel, I am so sorry for my slow reply. We went away for our little beach holiday and before that DH was away camping for a week, so it's been a bit busy. I have been catching upon your wonderful posts and they truly are so inspiring. Since getting home, I am feeling renewed and energised and ready to save, save, save. We are hoping to get our kitchen done over Christmas (this is when DH has time off and so can fit it etc.). It shall make for an interesting Christmas. lol. I am enjoying Christmas so much more since I have realised I can keep it as simple as I like. I used to actually really dislike it. The crowds, the manic spending, too much food etc. But now I realise, we can pick and choose what we like and keep it as simple and as non materialistic as possible. So I have small presents for family and friends. Sharing delicious food and each other's company is our biggest gift. I much prefer homemade gifts any day! I love how you said, find someone in need/lonely and make christmas special for them. This is beautiful. Such an inspiriting and thoughtful post, Annabel. I think it is good to revisit and remember what was loved in our childhood Christmas. I used to love being able to go for a swim at the beach, a relaxed lunch and a rest in the afternoon (for the adults)/playing or board games for the kids. I guess all of those things equal spending time with each other. Since we have our health, and we are together, some food on the table then we are so very rich, in deed (I read that somewhere). Lots of love, Bridge

    1. Dear Bridge,
      With a child of your own Christmas becomes a whole new world as you see it through their eyes! So you will love it! I don't like crowds and really avoid the shops in the rush. All that stress! BUT there is an upside even to that and its the after Christmas mark downs. That is when I get turkey and ham on the best prices and often the wrapping paper etc for next year. i.e. last year all the $8 expensive wrapping papers were 50c.
      As well when two families merge then its time to pick the traditions you love and get rid of the ones you don't and make your own family traditions. So make it lovely for yourselves and enjoy it. Then you will be excited for it to come around!
      Getting the kitchen done is a big disruption ... we used the BBQ and I set up a kettle etc on the dining room table... but it is great to get it done! That will be wonderful! Thank you so much Bridge! With love

  19. Annabel, thankyou once again for a beautiful post. I just love your blog- the values you and the other ladies share are so in line with my own. Christmas truly is what you make it- the delights and wonder, food and gifts all budgeted for. Could you please share with us the little gifts you send by mail? It would be so helpful to have an idea of what you send as postage is now a major cost. Also, I tried to post the next question to you but I can't find where I wrote it on your blog- forgetfulness!! One of the joys of old age, hehe. Please bear with me Annabel. My grandson is 17 soon and I would love to gift him a handmade present. I know you've done a post of gifts for men etc but older teen boys are so difficult. He has an apprenticeship now so is earning his own money. He is used to receiving whatever he wants so a gift made with love would mean a lot to me. I make his card every year which he loves. Hoping you or one of the lovely ladies can contribute some ideas. Many thanks Annabel, best wishes, Lorraine xx

    1. Dear Lorraine, Thank you so much! I post a lot of gifts! And postage has got worse and worse so I am trying hard to post lovely presents but in envelopes and not parcels. Some ideas I have used are needles and threads for anyone who embroiders, bay leaves and vanilla for cooks, labels for jars for pantry lovers. Packets of seeds for gardeners. Note cards and notepads, handkerchiefs, photos, sachets, bookmarks, vouchers, ribbons.
      I did see your request for ideas for a teenage boy. I just have been a bit slow to rely sorry so I will reply here. Firstly it is fantastic he has an apprenticeship. And yes older teen boys can be harder but I have a step son that age. They seem to quite like money and vouchers but otherwise I like food according to what they like i.e. jars of snacks to take to work, a giant chocolate pizza (DIY of course) things to help them save i.e. a travel coffee cup if they commute and if they have their own car then an emergency kit i.e. flashlight, first aid kit for the car... another I have done is a movie night kit so popcorn and snacks packed into a tub, for someone who takes lunch to work then an eski, basket of instant soups and snacks... if they follow a sport or team then that can be a useful clue too. Also if they have a hobby i.e. fishing then this helps with other ideas. I have filled a fishing box or a tool box with snacks. i.e. nuts, chocolates etc and these have been hits! I hope that helps.
      Do you know what? In one of your cars I would write him a letter and tell him how proud you are of him. Boys are big and tough but these things mean a lot and I bet he treasures your words!
      He sounds like a lovely Grandson! With love


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