Avoiding Christmas Debt

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also the most expensive. Christmas presents, Christmas food and Christmas experiences are all lovely, but they cost money, money we often don’t have. Christmas is the time of year when credit cards are maxed, store cards are opened and debts are accumulated, debts that we will then be paying off right into the New Year and beyond. There are things you can do though, to keep the spending, and therefore the debt, at a more manageable level.

Sort out the debt you already have

If you already have loans, credit and store cards that you are finding hard to manage payments for, it may be worth sorting out these debts before you increase them and take on others. An IVA ( Individual Voluntary Arrangement) could be an answer, allowing you to only pay what you can afford. To find out more information about IVAs click here.

Set Your Budget

For all the important things in life, whether it be getting married, moving house, booking a holiday, it is always sensible and practical to set a budget. Christmas is no exception. It is too easy to get carried away with the whole excitement of the festive period, buying heaps of presents that then sit under the bed for the next six months. Aim for quality over quantity and stick to that budget.

Shop Around

Whatever you are buying, you need to shop around rather than buying it at the first store you see it in, The Internet obviously has lots of bargains, but stores are now competing, with whole weekends dedicated to discounts that are often store wide. Also, look for things like the Boots Star Buy, a promotion that M&S has also started to embrace, 3 for 2 offers and buy one get one free or half price bargains.

Wait for Black Friday

If you are planning on buying anything electrical, or at the top end of your budget, then it could be worth waiting for Black Friday. Some stores are already offering early Black Friday deals, but it is worth signing up for email updates for key stores, and watching sites like Amazon who have some great Black Friday deals each year which can help you make huge savings.

Make sure you are savvy with the cash this Christmas.

Christmas Gift Guide for Sports Lovers

We are now firmly entrenched in November. Halloween has gone, Bonfire Night is now a distant memory, so we can now firmly turn our thoughts to the most wonderful time of the year, at least in my eyes. Yes, Christmas is now just over a month away, and for some, this might mean that the panic is starting to set in. Because, although some people are very easy to buy a gift for, others can lead to many sleepless nights.

I have been writing a series of posts giving pointers to gift ideas that may be a little different from the norm. This post is some ideas for gifts for sports lovers. This can be an idea for something for those who partake in sports, or those who just enjoy it from the comfort of the stands, or even just get a thrill from watching it on their TV. There is just a football in this post – look out for a full football gift guide coming very soon, but there are other ideas that may just tick the box this Christmas.

A gift for a golf lover

Golf is one of the most popular sports and there are a range of gifts for the golf lover. A really popular and practical choice is a golf sweater. These come in a range of designs, from thin knits using Merino wool, to thicker, more winter friendly designs of lambswool. There are a range of patterns to suit all tastes, or you can opt for a plain version. If you know someone who truly loves their golf, this could be the perfect gift idea.

 

A Gift For a Darts Fan

Now, this could be something obvious, like a dartboard, or a set of personalised darts. But Christmas is the time of major darts tournament, with both the PDC and BDO hosting huge tournaments at the Ally Pally (Alexander Palace) and the Lakeside respectively. Tickets to watch these events could be a much appreciated gift  that is welcomed far more than chocolates or aftershave yet again.

Football…

Season tickets for your favourite teams can be very expensive, but many teams will sell a half season ticket as a Christmas gift idea, obviously this is much more affordable and you still get to see the rest of the season. This might be a good idea for someone who has only ju

st got into football and so may not have thought of getting a season ticket before.

 

If you are interested in woman’s football, the team is currently playing a series of qualifiers for the World Cup. Tickets are so much cheaper than for the National Men’s game, and in every likelihood the game will be better and more exciting. A family ticket could be a great idea for a Christmas gift to a sports loving family.

There are many more Christmas gift ideas that have a sporting theme. These range from novelty socks and slippers, rugby ball shaped washbags, replica retro football shirts and even aftershave that gives you the chance to smell like Beckham and Ronaldo. Whatever you give, the chances are that you will put a smile on someone’s face this December 25th.

The Night Before Christmas at John Lewis Birmingham

“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house”, well, all through John Lewis in Grand Central Birmingham actually, but you get the general picture. Christmas arrived in Birmingham last week, as a group of very lucky bloggers (myself included – yay!) were invited to a Christmas launch event after hours in the flagship Grand Central store. There was fizz, there was delicious looking food, and there was everything that says ‘Christmas’, It was amazing.

The night was all about getting a taste of John Lewis Christmas, before the much anticipated advert is released. There was an opportunity to look at specific promotions, including a set of very special Christmas tree lights that work by App. These lights have all sorts of combinations when it comes to colour and shine, and can even be set to come on, or to go off after you’ve gone to bed.

Twinkly 175 LED Christmas Lights Extra Large Set, Multi L20.5m £85 Click to visit John Lewis

John Lewis is always the place to go for new Christmas decorations. It gives you ideas and themes for how to dress your tree, putting together colour schemes that you may not have thought of as strictly Christmasssy – pinks and oranges are not associated with Christmas, but they make a wonderful colour combination on a ‘Tales of the Maharaja’ styled tree. Folklore, Russian influenced Winter Palace and Highland Myths are amongst the other, wonderful themes in store this year.

Winter Palace

John Lewis Winter Palace Bauble £12 Click to visit John Lewis

John Lewis Winter Palace Babushka Bauble £6 Click to visit John Lewis

John Lewis Olivia Tree Topper, Silver Blue £12 Click to visit John Lewis

Tales of the Maharaja

John Lewis Tales of the Maharaja Lion Head Bauble Click here John Lewis Tales of the Maharaja Leopard Head Bauble £8 Click here

John Lewis Lima Llama Flamingo Clip On Tree Decoration £8 Click to visit John Lewis

John Lewis Lima Llama Flamingo Snow Globe £18 Click to visit John Lewis

Lima Lama As well as the best decorated trees around, John Lewis also had a brilliant range of decorations for the mantlepiece, tables and shelves, as well as a wonderful array of indoor and outdoor lighting solutions.

Coppenrath Victorian Christmas Houses Advent Boxes, Pack of 24 £15 Click to visit John Lewis

John Lewis Highland Myths Festive Owl Decoration, Small £18 Click to visit John Lewis

John Lewis Winter Palace Artificial White Twig Tree £15 Click to visit John Lewis

John Lewis LED Christmas TV Scene £25 Click to visit John Lewis

John Lewis Highland Myths Festive Deer Room Decoration £18 Click to visit John Lewis

One of the new products for 2017 that elicited lots of excitement was the Scentsicles, scented twig like sticks that you can hang from your Christmas tree and leave the whole room smelling of Christmas. These are just £6 and are frankly amazing, a new Christmas must have.

Scentsicles £6 Click to visit John Lewis

There were food treats to sample too, with an advent calendar full of pork scratchings proving to be a surprise hit. My personal favourites were Prestat popping pink prosecco mini truffles which had a lovely Prosecco flavour combined with the hint of popping candy – a blast from childhood combined with bubbles has to be a good thing.

John Lewis truly is a Winter wonderland during the run up to Christmas, and in terms of decoration, they are hard to beat.

*With thanks to Shani from John Lewis and the Brum Bloggers Group for the invitation.