My Frugal Birthday Experience Idea

People are spending far too much money on gifts, and so much time hunting for them. Also birthday gifts can create even more ‘clutter’ in your house.

We are in the era of families not meeting ‘properly’ and ‘talking’. People can be very isolated now. I find when people meet at birthday dinners people don’t ‘really talk’, and some of them, don’t find birthday dinners fun, perhaps they hate mingling. Some of us feel ‘forced to go’ if relatives are more distant. Also, there is not much to do, and introverts like me, find them uncomfortable. Birthday meals can be very pricey for everyone.

I thought that instead of having a ‘proper’ birthday gift or dinner. I would have an experience, and I am not just talking about an experience that is just for me, ie those Red Letter Days type of experience, which also can be expensive but something everyone will generally enjoy.

I wanted a more frugal and Scandinavian ‘hygge’ experience. So what I thought was for me and a few of my friends and relatives to visit a wildlife rescue centre – that way it would be interesting and educational and it would make a difference to the animals there. It maybe a bit ‘sad’, but I think the fact that all of us will being doing something to help, will really make a ‘mark’ on everyone.

They could make a donation too, and even a small donation, can make a big difference with several people going. There maybe a ‘shop’ there or they could bring in food and bedding for the animals. People with children can also go along, so it would be good for them too. They will also see how much damage cars can cause with our wildlife, that will be an eye opener too. You never know, the trip may mean that the charity will get more donations in the long run, and even new volunteers. The trip could inspire people to do good things. Birthdays can also be ‘serious too’ but I think it is important to have some light bits in it, to balance things out.

Afterwards, we would have an informal picnic somewhere, and people would bring their own things to share. People will be able to talk more ‘normally’ than in a formal, restaurant setting. I am a huge fan of picnics. They remind me of my childhood and I don’t see why we can’t have more ‘picnic birthdays’. My birthday is in July so I’m quite lucky in having reasonably good weather, though we will need a ‘back up’ if it rains, of course!

I was lucky to discover that there is a good dog show nearby as well, and suggested we go there afterwards, if they wanted to. That would give them a bit of flexibility too so they didn’t have to stay if the couldn’t. Most people in my family are animal lovers and I think animals and birthdays are a ‘great frugal mix’. There is something to do too, not just talk.

I already I have had people saying they want to ‘swipe my idea’ which is great. I am not celebrating it until in two week’s time, but if you want to have a ‘frugal birthday’, and one where you can ‘make a difference’, you don’t have to celebrate it on your day, as there may be things that are fun that are around on a different day, perhaps in your own area. My experience can be great for ‘keeping things local’ and reducing air miles, if your friends and relatives are local.

I really like this the animal charity birthday idea as this will make a difference to the animals too, and I hope my relatives and relatives will talking about this ‘birthday experience’ for years to come. Maybe they will do something similar too?

Just for your info, I will be going to Folly Wildlife Rescue, in Tunbridge Wells http://www.follywildliferescue.org.uk/ and keep you posted.

DIY Wellbeing Gift: Lavender ‘Handkerchief’ envelope – REVIEW

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Someone on a social media forum gave me the idea to make a lavender sachet from a handkerchief that she could give as a Wellbeing Present. I thought it was a nice, quick idea and a little ‘pick-me-up’.

All she did was collect vintage handkerchiefs, add some edible lavender flowers and essential oil and just sew it up to make a cute and easy ‘fabric envelope’. Add a pretty button for effect.

I made this one which was really easy to make and it went down very well as ‘sleeping aid’.I am a hygge fan, and this is very hygge!

REVIEW: It felt a bit flimsy at first, but you could always put in some lining in, though you wouldn’t get so much of a lavender aroma. I thought it was cute and I hope to make some more. It went down very well to the person I gave it to as a surprise. I would give mine 9/10 because I forgot the essential oil – oops! It’s a nice way of remembering people who have given you handkerchiefs and using spare ones you have round the house. It gives old handkerchiefs a bit of life. If you do make any, let me know what reaction you get…..

London Review: DIY Orange & Lemons, Lavender & Poppy Seed Natural Hand Lotion

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I made this gorgeous hand lotion this afternoon and I really was pleased with the results.

To make this lotion, I was inspired by the traditional English children’s nursery rhyme and singing game, “Oranges and Lemons” which refers to the bells of several churches, all within or close to the City of London:-

“Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
Chip chop chip chop the last man is dead”

INGREDIENTS (I eyeballed these)

Coconut oil (in solid form (I got mine from Tesco which was under £3) (Avoid being ripped off by specialist health shops)

Shea butter (I always keep some of this in my cupboard)
Grated Lemon Peel
Grated Orange Peel
Lavender Essential Oil
Lemon Essential Oil
Poppy seeds
Lavender Flowers (edible version, I used some lavender tea)
Orange, Tangerine or Mandarin Essential oil
Olive Oil (a nod to the Romans)
Organic Beeswax (from a local farmers’ market)
A silicon soap mould of your choice or you can use the ‘square’ of a milk box

I heated the ingredients up by putting a bowl and saucer as a cover in the microwave for a few minutes (I checked it every so often). Hot oil is dangerous so keep away from small kids.

I then poured the content into a silicon mould, left it to set outside and then put it in the fridge.

Tips: Be more liberal with the beeswax to make the mould harder. Be generous with your grated orange and lemon peel but it needs to be dried so the lotion lasts longer. Try to keep the lotion in the fridge, away from each other.

Suggested uses: As gifts and, even better, as a random act of kindness! Love to hear if you do that….

REVIEW: 9/10 The first time I did this, I forgot the beeswax, which meant a lot of it was used really quickly as it was too soft. This time I used the beeswax and the lotion didn’t fall apart. I also used too much olive oil the first time, so it was a bit oily. This time it was perfect and I didn’t have to use much for it to go a long way. It has a really lovely vintage, summery smell, great for wellbeing too.

Review: DIY Natural Hair Pomade

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I was given a slab of organic beeswax after going to a Food Festival in London the other day and thought it would be interesting to make something different from beeswax.

I wanted to use totally natural ingredients.

I made the pomade with a mix of:

Organic beeswax
Shea Butter
Drops of almond oil, olive oil and caster oil
An essential oil of your choice

    (I always keep some shea butter handy at home as it is great as a natural hand moisturiser too)

    Verdict: My pomade was fairly hard (maybe I used too much beeswax and shea butter!) but when I used it, it kept my hair under control and, with the oils, made it all shiny without ‘being greasy’. It also didn’t look so dry and thin. The more beeswax you have, the stronger hold it will hold.

    It’s particularly effective with short, layered hair, as, on a bright sunny day it captures the sunlight. It makes your hair look look healthy. It could be used as unisex product too.

    I would probably not use it all over the hair, but have it on bits that need a bit of highlight. It is excellent for the hair and moisturises it well. I didn’t have to use gloops of it too and can last for a long time.

    Verdict: 9/10

Inexpensive ideas for a super budget 50th birthday

I was struggling to think up ideas for a boyfriend’s 50th, I wanted something special and meaningful, and a bit lastminute as I wasn’t well leading up to his 50th.

Here’s what I came up with:

1) A trip to Syon Park. I got a good deal from the South Eastern Railway 2 for 1 offers. A stately home they have never been though is great for ‘first time’ memories.You can get two tickets for £14.50 as long as you have a train ticket valid for the day of travel. To make it more interesting, make it a ‘mystery trip’. A lot of stately homes can be really expensive to visit. It has a bonus for me as I am related to the family that owned it.

2) Photo Frame – preferably one with several photoframes in it. I picked mine up from the poundshop. My theme of the birthday is ‘memories and making positive memories’

3) An office plant (my boyfriend has a fake one as he is rubbish with plants but it looks great and will last practically forever!). You can make it more ‘real’ with a bit of olive oil.

4) DVDS – thought provoking DVDS, and light humour. Being 50, could be depressing, let’s make it awesome

5) A trip to up to The Monument in London to make more memories and photos. At every major birthday, you make it a family custom to do this. The Monument has tons of local London history too. It is also cheap if you have a South Eastern Railway Offer (which is £5 per person).

6) Make a handmade cake. I made banana and date loaf and covered it in home made rum and poppy seed butter icing. If you can find a local cake shop which has fun decorations, that would be brilliant. I chose to make a ‘summery cake’ as his birthday is in May, and make it more football oriented with an Everton theme colours, his favourite team.

7) A book on Nostalgia (I found a look about the history of sweet wrappers) and when you are 50, you can often remember them all!

Below, just finalising my cake in the kitchen:

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PS: If I could spend more I would but I couldn’t. I would say that his relatives are also taking him out for dinner too, that will be nice.

Small Christmas Presents on a Budget

As I been on a budget this year, it was a challenge to get presents so I made a few handmade gifts for a personal touch.   These are not the ‘main presents’ but some that kind of add ‘bulk’ under the Christmas tree. Some I didn’t make, but I wanted practical presents.

Here are some inexpensive presents I made or bought this year:

  1. Homemade lip balm using coconut oil, beewax, Vit E oil and essential oils.I bought some small lip balm tins online. It is amazing how many you can make, one or two for each person. And the benefit is that you are not using any toxic ingredients. A hipster bonus.You can add wintery spices with ginger, tangerine oil, lavender flowers and clove oil if you wish. Coconut oil (the lardy type) can be purchased from a health shop, but it is hugely expensive there, but you can get them at a good Tesco or an African supermarket at a fraction of the price.
  2. Make your own candles, so easy to make. And, you can recycle your old candles too. You can easily get candle wicks (and ends), candle wax and dyes online. And you could even use them for next Christmas too.
  3. Moisturiser with shea butter, essential oils, beeswax, Almond Oil.  Once you have got these ingredients you can easily rustle up a good quality gift at a moment’s notice. This is excellent product is totally natural. Always keep these items in your house for birthdays, Christmas etc. You can make them seasonal too with appropriate essential oils. This year I used peppermint and chamomile essential oil for my moisturiser.
  4. Bath salts. These are incredibly easy to make.  However, if you are lucky to be in London, there are some excellent Turkish supermarkets and you can get Himalayan Pink Salts for just 85p for a small bag. Just add a bit of almond oil, essential oils and food colouring of your choice, but even this is not necessary. You can also layer the colours to add interest. Like the previous gifts, this is totally natural and non toxic.
  5. Anchovy Butter, so easy to make and quick to do. It is also so versatile to use.
  6. Sugar Scrub – just caster sugar, essential oils, almond oil and essential oils. You can add food colouring to add interest.
  7. Flower Arrangements – It is easy to make a candle flower arrangement and if you have conifers in your garden, you are halfway there. Additionally, you can easily make a flower headdress for Christmas Day, with real or fake wintery flowers. With the candle flower arrangement, add cinnamon sticks and Christmas tree baubles
  8. Make a DIY breakfast cereal. You can often pick up large biscuit jars at the pound shop. It is a lot of fun designing your own granola. I got this for my mother as I didn’t feel she was eating healthily.
  9. Practical present ideas -pajamas, even some food items, basic clothing as it is amazing how difficult it is for some old people to shop and some old people don’t have enough for basics too. Even simple foods they love, like Angel Delight, and they can enjoy remembering. My mother is foreign so I bought her some gingerbread biscuits, black treacle she loves, and sauerkraut. Even socks are great, even though they are supposed to be ‘boring’, but find some nice ones. Socks wear out, and we always need them
  10. I made a ‘Snow’ Conditioning Shampoo with natural incredients like castille soap, almond oil, essential oils, rosewater and Vitimen E oil. This was great as a winter gift..The majority of these ideas are on Youtube, so you can choose your own instructions. I am really looking forward to seeing what people will think on Christmas Day.

Update: The winter spiced  lip balms were very popular, including the bath salts.  Lots of people were very impressed by the high quality natural  beautifully smelliing products, and one was inspired to make some natural beauty products herself. Even my relative, a bloke, said he loves the homemade bath salts as he gets lots of migraines.