Thursday, 19 November 2015

Planning Tips for Your Christmas Shopping | Lifestyle

Christmas is not all that far away now, and it’s getting closer. Here are some top planning tips to help you make sure you get everything right.


Know Who You’re Buying For
It often seems like the number of people you're obliged to buy gifts for every year grows and grows. And it can be easy to forget about someone important when you’re buying for so many different people. You don’t want to face that awkward moment on Christmas day when you haven’t got a gift to give to your cousin who’s come around for lunch. So, make sure you make a comprehensive list that covers every person that you need to buy a gift for before the big day arrives.


Plan a Budget
Christmas is an expensive time of the year, so it makes sense to plan a strict budget before you start buying gifts. If you don’t plan a budget, it can be very easy for your purchasing to spiral out of control, and then you will be in trouble. So, decide how you want to spend on each person you’re buying for. And try your best not to break your budget once it’s been set in stone. Christmas might be expensive, but there’s no need to spend even more than you have to, so keep an eye on your expenditure.


Search for Sales
As we enter the winter period, certain things will become available for lower prices. This is why it’s often not a great idea to do the Christmas shopping too early. You often miss out on some of these sales when you do that. Many retailers set up gift offers that allow you to buy three gifts for the prices of two. So, make sure you keep your eyes open for these kinds of deals because they could save you a lot of money on your Christmas shopping spree.


Hit the High Street Last
There are so many options for shoppers nowadays, so don’t limit yourself to the conventional high street shops. You should make sure you scout all the online retailers that can’t be found on the high street first of all. This is quite often where you’ll find the very best deals, not on the high street. There are places that cater specifically to people who are on a tight budget and can’t afford to spend a lot of money. You should head to www.shoppingiscool.co.uk if you have a small budget.


Don’t be Afraid to Buy Second-Hand
Buying used items as gifts might seem like a bad move, but it doesn’t have to be. There are lots of good items that work as second-hand gifts. You could buy vintage clothes of jewellery, for example. Second-hand items shouldn’t be ruled out when there are so many good vintage boutiques and second-hand stores. And then there’s Ebay. You can find anything on there, and it’s a great place to find unusual, unexpected gifts that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.


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Saturday, 14 November 2015

Advice For Planning The Perfect Hen Night | Lifestyle

When your friend decides to get married, it’s usually a very exciting time. She might ask you to become the chief bridesmaid, and that comes with certain responsibilities. You will be in charge of planning and running the best hen night possible. Take some ideas and advice from this page to ensure your friend has the most exciting experience your money can afford. With a bit of luck, there should be some cash within the wedding budget to cover the costs involved. Just make sure you find out how much you have to play with before making arrangements.

  • Book luxurious transport

Whatever you decide to do, you’ll need to get from A to B in style. The manager of Limos North West says his company get a lot of work from people on hen nights. However, you don’t have to book a standard Limo if you fancy something different. Most firms that provide luxury car hire will also offer Hummers and other vehicles. Just take a look at the cars they currently provide and work out which is most suitable for your party. Also, try to strike a deal that ensures the driver is willing to stay out late.

  • Arrange a tasty meal

You’ll all want to fill your bellies before you start on the alcohol. Otherwise, certain members of your party might flake before the main event. Take a look at the best restaurants in towns and cities near to your home. Most will offer group discounts if you’re arriving with a lot of people. Make sure the restaurant knows you are part of a hen party at the time of booking. Some establishments are less than enthusiastic about providing food for large groups. That is especially the case when dealing with upmarket restaurants that attract posh people.

  • Consider your entertainment options

There is a good chance your group will want to hit the clubs after eating a decent meal. That means you need to select a location with lots of bars and entertainment. As is traditional for hen nights, you’ll probably need to book a stripper. Make sure you confirm it is okay with your chosen bar owner before handing over your money. Some people might not walk a half naked man strutting around on their busiest nights. Likewise, other establishments might love the idea and offer some cash towards the bill. At the end of the day, it’s not only the bride to be who can enjoy the show.

The only other things you need to think about relate to accessories and gifts. Be sure to ask every member of the party to bring something funny along for the night out. With a bit of luck, that should help to ensure everyone has a good laugh. Also, don’t forget to arrange for someone to bring a decent camera. You’ll want to put a lot of pictures on Facebook.

(Image source Garry Knight )

So, that’s about all from me. You should be in the perfect position to organise a hen night your friend will never forget. Feel free to add and remove ideas as you see fit. The suggestions on this page are just there to give you some inspiration. When all’s said and done, you know your friend better than me.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

How to Do Christmas Without the Stress | Lifestyle

I love Christmas and enjoy it every year, but that doesn't mean I don't get stressed out. There's a lot to do, from buying gifts to preparing food, and it's easy to get overwhelmed by everything. Not to mention that there can both other issues to deal with, from family to travel restrictions. By now, I have a few strategies for making sure everything doesn't get to be too much. I can make sure that Christmas is fun and not too much hard work by getting organised long before Christmas Day arrives. Here are some of the techniques I use to keep everything under control.

Do Your Christmas Shopping in Advance
Only the most disorganised people are foolish enough to buy presents at the last minute. There's no excuse for it when it's so easy to get everything done in advance. You don't even need to go to the shops. You can sit at home and do all your shopping online, even while you're busy doing something else at the same time. If you hate picking out gifts, tackle it all in one evening. There are lots of ideas out there to inspire you, from giving Scotch as a gift to toys, gadgets and home accessories. Once you've done it all, you don't have to worry about it anymore. For extra convenience, get them wrapped by a wrapping service.

Simplify the Menu
Do you always end up spending half of Christmas Day slaving away in the kitchen? I refuse to spend the whole day cooking when I should be with my family. The key to a successful but easy Christmas dinner is to keep it simple. Firstly, think of all the things that no one really eats and don't bother with them. Then consider anything you can do shop-bought instead of homemade. You might want to make turkey and roast potatoes yourself, but do you need to bake your own mince pies? Buying prepared things can help too, such as chopped carrots and other veggies.

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(image credit John Stratford)

Cut Back on Decorations
Going all-out on decorations can be fun, but it can also add extra stress. The decorating part is often a fun-filled evening, but you don't have to go overboard. Too many decorations mean having always to check up on everything. You'll be re-pinning falling tinsel, switching lights on and off and lighting and extinguishing candles all the time. Plus, you'll have to spend time putting everything away once Christmas is over too. And while a real tree is beautiful, it means you'll be sweeping up pine needles all the time. Consider going for an artificial tree this year.

Don't Do It Alone
Remember that you're not on your own. You aren't the only person in your house, so make sure everyone else is pulling their weight. Get them to do their bit in the kitchen, help to wash the dishes or collect wrapping paper. You shouldn't have to organise Christmas single-handedly, so get everyone else to join in too.

Christmas doesn't have to be stressful. Follow my tips to make it a joyous occasion without the stress.

Monday, 2 November 2015

How To Give Amazing Gifts That Won't Cost A Fortune | Lifestyle

Buying gifts is not always easy. It’s even harder when you have to stick to a budget. You could find the perfect gift for that special someone, but it could be completely out of your price range. So how do can you give amazing gifts that won’t cost a fortune? Follow my simple guide to find out.

1.Use online discounts
Retailers love to tempt us with great offers and promotions. If you sign up for their newsletters, you are guaranteed to be sent complimentary discounts to use on their websites. It’s also become popular for retailers to have promotional codes. These will apply a discount to your order just by entering a short codeword. It's such a simple yet brilliant way of saving money when gift buying. You can usually find out what discounts retailers have on offer by following their social media pages. Do your research and compare offers to find the best deal. For example Littlewoods currently have a promotional code where you can get £30 off. Always remember to read the small print to avoid confusion.


2. Shop in the sales
The sales are a great way of bagging brilliant presents, at a fraction of the price. Black Friday sales have huge discounts on thousands of products, both online and instore. You just need to be quick. They only last a few days and the stock will run out quickly. The post-Christmas sales are another great way of buying bargain gifts, especially if you want presents for next Christmas. The high street will want to get rid of its Christmas stock as soon as possible. So this will be an ideal time to get some wonderful gifts and save yourself some money.


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3. Make your gifts
Gifts you’ve taken the time to make will always go down well. They don’t have to be expensive either. Save money by buying your gift supplies in bulk and make multiple gifts with them. You can also use items from second-hand shops to make your gifts. Gifts such as teacup candles won’t cost as much if you buy the tea cups from charity shops. They can be priced for as little as 50p. You can also buy old jumpers from charity shops and reuse their wool to make new items, such as scarves and gloves. Pound stores are fabulous for inexpensive gifts and offer cheaper alternatives to the supermarkets. They have everything from books to DVDs to kitchen utensils.

4. Quality Time
An incredibly thoughtful and inexpensive gift idea is that of quality time. Older family members who live alone will love this. You can plan simple activities to do together, such as watching a film or going on a hike. It’s important to spend time with your family and friends and this present will mean more than and thing you could buy.

With these four simple tips, you will both save money and give some incredible gifts no matter what the occasion. Always give yourself plenty of time to buy or make your gifts. Now go out there and get planning for all these celebrations.