Christmas Gift Ideas – You Don’t Need To Spend a Lot

You don’t need to spend a lot of money at Christmas. Every year I fall into the trap and spend far too much – I’m sure we all do. This year I’m attempting to be sensible – starting with setting a strict £30 budget (which I’ve gone over by £5). It’s doable as long as you have some idea of what you’re buying. (H has been asking for a PlayDoh ice cream parlour since her birthday so I kept my eye out for good offers and got it for £15 in the end – it has a RRP of £25)

playdoh ice cream parlour

This year I started picking up bargains I spotted online and in stores – Tiger Stores has loads of traditional games, often wooden ones which appealed – they’ve got a kids toys section on their UK site (it’s not an online store) and most gifts come in at less than £5.

Tiger Stores Pin PIcture

The Entertainer has a store near work, and I’m pleased they have games like Mouse Trap and Operation on offer. Someone in-store told me they were holding stock back as the offer had been so popular so they’d have enough to keep them going until Christmas. I got Operation for £6 which I’m happy with. We had both games when I was young and I know that H will enjoy them too – and I’m looking at games we might not play with immediately but could be ones that stick around for a while. H keeps requesting the Doggie Doo game…. well she is four!


Amazon have had some book deals lately – I’ve picked up some classics for just £1 new which are great stocking fillers. We’ve also had some good local markets near us which have great deals on new books that we’ve stocked up on, so don’t rule out shopping locally!

I’m always on the lookout for good toy deals in shops – we’ve recently had a Kiddicare store open in Croydon which is fantastic, they’ve got a 3 for 2 on ALL toys going on at the moment. They’ve also got free next day delivery on all orders over £29.99 – and considering I have an extra child to buy for this year, this works out a really good deal –  I’ve just saved myself £17, and can get delivery to work tomorrow as well. Now THAT is convenient! Oh, and they accept PayPal as payment too – more shops should do this.

Homemade book

I’ve bought a book ‘Homemade‘ as a present which has some brilliant ideas. Essentially, you can make your own everyday items – from baking preserves, home remedies, cleaning solutions, beauty products, confectionery and pet care. I know someone who will enjoy this book a lot… hopefully she won’t be reading this post…

So far, not too much spent anyway… there’ll be more Christmas Gift Ideas tomorrow…

V05 Dry Shampoo and Replacing My Eighties Nightmares #cbias

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

VO5 have a Dry Shampoo which has recently been launched in some stores around the country. We wash our hair every day, though this weekend past at our local carnival Sutton and Surrey Water had a stand and gave us a timer to attempt a three-minute shower – so trying out a dry shampoo was something I was keen to do as I don’t need to wash my hair every day. I have long-lasting memories of going to school having had talcum powder rubbed into my hair by my mum in the eighties – and I can definitely remember a time it wasn’t rubbed in very well – so I was keen to see how it would work.

We don’t have a lot of time at home, and I often use my soup maker to save time and get some quality family time for meals, so need all the help I can while it’s not possible to magic another hour in the day. (that would be good though, just the one)

I work in Wandsworth Town, so have the shops at Clapham Junction to choose from most days, including Superdrug and Sainsburys within the station. I decided to try Superdrug as they have a wide range of haircare (and the previous day I’d checked Boots in Waterloo who didn’t have very much at all – you would think a decent selection of dry shampoo would be something a commuter would go for?) – it’s very convenient and has a broad choice of goods available and means I can walk in, get what I want and get out – Clapham Junction Station shops aren’t for browsing in. I have approximately five minutes to do my shop and make it into work on time so I’m always in a rush.

They had two kinds of VO5 shampoos, though disappointingly the front two rows of cans had no caps. I had to get to the cans at the back before I found one that was intact – and that included a smashed up lid too. The cans were fairly easy to spot on the second to bottom row of the shampoo aisle. I went for the ‘Plump Me Up’ range which suits my thick fine hair, that often looks flat and drab by the end of the day – it ‘has been developed with collagen to give instant body to tired, lifeless hair & banish greasy roots. If you want you can backcomb loosely for added oomph. Now you can skip a wash and still look beautifully bouffed!’. That’s me sold.


I don’t need a bag as I always carry a large reusable one with me, so left the shop, purchase complete. A quick trip to Sainsburys and Caffe Nero and I was ready to head to work. There’s some photos over here in a Google+ album. Now to put the shampoo to the test…

This picture was taken on Monday night, my hair was flat and dull, but with a bit of shine.

This morning I sprayed it onto my hair, having carefully read the instructions. It took me about thirty seconds which is much quicker than my usual process where I’ll wash my hair and then condition it if it is feeling especially dry which can take anything up to three minutes on it’s own even with my short hair length.

I have to say, my hair felt good, and did have a bit more ‘oomph’ to it and was definitely plumped up, oh and it smelt good too – though my eighties nightmares came back mid-morning when I visited the toilet at work and the bright lights near the mirror showed a white circle around my head. Oh no! So I dampened my hair to make it look less obvious and cursed myself. The instructions say to spray it near the roots, leave and then rub it in so it’s definitely something which I need to work on – but also as I have quite dark hair, maybe it’s more obvious. I suggest practicing at home a few times first, if you’re anything like me.

Overall my lasting impression is my hair hasn’t flopped and felt heavy and although it lost the nice smell the dry shampoo definitely helped. I can see it fitting in with my day-to-day life when I don’t want to spend long in the shower or we’re running late and my hair needs something to make it look presentable.

The Microwave Went Pop

It’s been one of those days. At work the things I needed to work weren’t doing what they were meant to, my train home was cancelled and to really finish the day off I went to warm up my soup in the microwave when there was an almighty pop and the lights downstairs went out. The fuse had blown. Grrr.

I hate it when that happens. RIP old microwave.

Fortunately we’ve a John Lewis at Home near us on the Purley Way in Croydon which offers a Click and Collect Service – so I can have a browse online at the choice of microwaves on offer. We definitely need a combi one with a grill included to make good baked potatoes (let’s face it – ones just in the microwave are pretty awful, they need a crisp outer) – then just order it to collect in-store.

Given I work four days a week, this kind of arrangement suits me nicely – you can also do pickups from a local Waitrose store which again is handy, and will stay open later (so once H is settled for the night I can nip out and get it) – plus it comes with John Lewis 1 year guarantee, and an option to buy a further three.

I’m particularly liking that if I need to return it I can just take it back to a store – so just up the road and very convenient – it suits my busy life perfectly.

sharp microwave

In the end I’ve opted for the Sharp R662WM Microwave Oven and Grill in white – now to get that order placed…


This post contains a sponsored link

ICE – Customer Rewards Programme

ICE works in much the same way as other loyalty programmes… with one major difference. The brands they work with are specifically chosen because the products and services are sustainable.

There are a wide variety of categories on ICE that should interest people from any walk of life, these include: travel, mother & baby, UK holidays, fashion & clothing and many others. Associated brands include big names such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis.

ICE believe that sustainable choices should be rewarded and encouraged. To do this customers are given points for products purchased through the website, these vary depending on where you buy from.

I had never heard of ICE before, but was pleasantly surprised by the brand names that I recognised. I like their ethos and the fact that the website is easy to navigate and explore.

AkaMuti-Bottom-Butter-300x225I shopped with EthicalBabe, the products here are organic and natural, ethical and environmentally friendly. I spent quite a bit of time on here, simply because it was a pleasure to have a look around. Everything was easy to find with the help of clearly laid out sections and there was a handy search bar, if in doubt! Points awarded vary depending on where you shop. At the time of purchase 15 points are given for every £2 spent at EthicalBabe, which is pretty generous, especially compared to other loyalty programmes.


I ordered a wooden toy musical set (£14.50 for xylophone, two jingle bells and two castanets) and the Akamuti baby bottom butter (£8.99 for 60ml). I was very impressed at the speed of delivery as I received these items the next day. My son Jacob had a lot of fun with the instruments (even though he wasn’t quite sure how to use them!), and I love the bottom butter. Yes the bottom butter does seem pricey but it smells divine, a little goes a long way and it is refreshing to look at a list of ingredients and actually know what they all mean! Standard delivery for EthicalBabe is £3.95, though as your order gets heavier the price goes up, however you also have the option of picking up from their London store for free if you live local enough.



When ordering from this site I got a little confused on how to use my ICE points. On going back to the ICE site there was a foolproof step-by-step guide on how to spend them, which I was really impressed by, and made life a lot easier.

ICE is a cleverly thought out site, with some excellent brands attached. I would recommend anyone to take a peek!

I was provided with credit to place an order at Ice – all opinions are her own and unbiased.