How I’ve Saved Money On My Christmas Present Shopping So Far

£5 Amazon Discount via A Promotion

I was anti buying lots from Amazon whilst Christmas shopping in Lockdown 2.0 but for the items I wanted to buy people they were actually cheaper from Amazon than other places I checked. Just for downloading the Prime Video app and signing in I was given a £5 off £20 spend. I remembered this as my basket total hit £16+ so it actually worked out cheaper for me to get an extra item to gift and use the promo code. I picked up 4 items for different people to add to their presents with obviously, no delivery charge thanks to my Prime Account.

Shopping Around

Yes, it takes a bit of time browsing online but is definitely worth it. I managed to get one very specific gift that was requested for half the RRP just by having a thorough hunt online. I generally check outlet sites like TK Maxx or Brand Alley when gift shopping for this reason too.

Not Paying For Any Wrapping

This year I’m using up some old recyclable paper supplies. When these run out I’ve forewarned my family they’ll be getting presents wrapped in magazine pages, packaging paper and newsprint. The amount of waste generated from Christmas wrapping paper scared me hence deciding to do this. I’ve saved up gift bags, nice paper bags from stores and ribbons all year to pop gifts in too. I’ve made gift tags out of old cards or any white packaging card and just decorating very quickly.

Not Paying For Postage

I find buying from places like department stores which sell a wide range of products helpful to dodge the postage costs. Many websites will offer free delivery if you sign up as a new customer. There’s also the option to order and collect generally with much lower spend thresholds. A favourite place to order online for me to dodge postage is Superdrug as they offer free home delivery for their loyalty card members if you spend over £10 which is such an amazingly low threshold. The only bulk order I’ve placed has been from ASOS as I was able to combine things I needed and items specifically asked for. By getting it all in one place I saved about £8 if you add up 2 separate delivery costs.

Not Giving Cards

Instead I’ve hand written personal notes and decorated them and attached these inside people’s gift boxes or bags. I’d rather do that over buying a multipack of impersonal cards that are ultimately only going to end up in the recycling bin.

Making Hampers Over One Big Gift

I’ve been able to make these my most impressive ones to date via collecting free sweet treats on cashback apps like Shopmium and adding lots of the beauty samples I’ve been claiming all year. Savers was a great port of call for large, well priced, items like big bottles of bubble bath in friends’ favourite colours for £1 etc. Poundland also had some great candles and branded sweet treats. Please note I add all these freebies and mega bargains as extras to bulk out presents and they’re always heavily personalised – I’m not being a total cheapskate! Using freebies like this also means I’m able to gift extra presents to people I wouldn’t usually buy for without overspending.

Buying In Person

I appreciate in lockdown this isn’t easy but I’ve managed to pick up bits and pieces when out an about in shops I was visiting anyway such as supermarket superstores, Poundland and Aldi. Larger supermarkets have a great collection of homewares, clothing and gift ideas which I found worth a browse.

Keeping An Eye Out For Gifts With Purchase

I paid less than £4 to get £12+ worth of items from L’Occitane via promotions and spent £5.50 on Estee Lauder to receive everything in the images below. I really love gifts with purchase options for getting high quality branded items for a low price so gifts look luxurious without breaking the bank.

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Free Or Cheap Things To Do And Ways To Stay Sane In Lockdown 2.0

Back in April I published a post on ways to stay safe, sane and savvy during Lockdown 1.0, little did I realise I’d be back revisiting this post idea at the time of year. What with the seasonal change for the second lockdown I decided to share a follow up post with ways I’ve been keeping occupied second time around.

Free Online Yoga Videos

I never thought I’d be someone who would get into yoga and I’m still far from a flexible yogi master but ultimately I enjoy the gentle exercise. I like that there are lots of free comprehensive videos on YouTube for beginners, that I can do these in my own time and at my own pace. I aim for twice a week either doing 30 or 45min sessions depending on my schedule. It sometimes takes a bit of effort to kick myself into action but I’m always grateful when I’ve done a practise.

Getting Organised For Christmas

Like many others I’m finding myself missing my family and social life so have delved into Christmas gift buying on a budget and even wrapping as this feels like a thoughtful way to connect to people I care about. It also means I’ll have less to worry about come December so I’ve been rather enjoying this one. I’ve been upcycling old delivery boxes and cards into pretty packaging and gift tags which has been easy but creative and fun.

Getting Outside

Spending some time outside as opposed to cooped up indoors makes for a nice change of scenery. I’ve been voluntarily walking the longer scenic route to a nearby large supermarket and it feels especially lovely when the weather is nice. When it’s pouring I try to stick to yoga to get me moving or a brisk walk if there’s a break in the drizzle or rain.

Reading

A kind friend has been lending me books since the end of the last lockdown, delivering me 8-10 at a time, which I then return and swap. I always set aside time to read at the weekend, it means I get a welcome break from screen time and really helps me switch off. I got lucky this time that my busier schedule meant I still have some loaned books on the go from a couple of months back to keep me going. This has been a wonderful free way to spend my time. I’m fully aware I could have used my local library but felt less comfortable with this personally.

Limiting Screen Time

I’ve banned myself from checking screens be that my laptop or phone an hour before bed in an attempt to help me sleep better. I find I definitely wind down more and it feels good to take a break.

Music

As ever music has been a big source of entertainment for me. I honestly use my Amazon Prime account daily just for Amazon music. I occasionally tune into live streams of artists I follow on social media still but these are far less frequent now that in the first UK lockdown.

Regular Online Social Calls

Be it video calls or just phone calls I really try to stick to a routine of these with friends whom I haven’t had a chance to see all year. It always puts me in a better mood and is lovely to hear a friendly voice if I’ve been feeling a little isolated which I think is very normal for 2020. Specifically scheduling them in my calendar helps me to not miss catch up sessions.

Eating New Foods

I’ve never professed to be a keen cook on this blog at all. I have minimal interest in cooking but do it nightly preparing quick, cheap, healthy meals. I’ve been spending more time thinking of new easy meal ideas for a bit of variation in my week which I would say has made me feel more positive through the week. I recently rediscovered gnocchi which has been a lovely hearty warming meal prepared in next to no time at all so would encourage anyone bored to thinking outside their usual box.

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Ways To Give Back, Support Others & Charities Without Spending Lots Of Money

2020 has been a tough year for the vast majority. Lots of fundraising events for charities have all been cancelled this year due to Covid, small businesses have been forced to close their doors and lots of individuals have faced redundancy. I wanted to put together a list of ways to help support local communities, individuals, charities and more without spending loads of money.

Support Independent Businesses / Shop Local

A lot of the huge retail giants will be fine for Christmas this year whereas lots of smaller businesses may not see another festive period without support. I’m all for buying the occasional treat coffee from a stand alone coffee shop as opposed to global chain and other similar small purchases. With most physical shops closed there are still ways to support smaller individuals such as buying from creatives on Etsy. If you’re intending to buy something anyway why not try to shop small if the price is very similar? Asking around friends and family is also a good way to find small businesses, you may find a friend who is a The Body Shop representative, another who makes cards etc.

Supporting Charities

Whilst charity shop doors may be physically closed there’s a lot of charities which have eBay accounts and sell items on their to raise much needed funds. Admittedly prices tend to be a bit higher than in the shops but fairly equal to what lots of private sellers are listing things for. Other ways to help can be collecting donations and keeping hold of them until the stores are allowed to reopen. I see lots of goods just dumped on the street which is such a shame and a waste. It you sell on eBay yourself you could consider donating a percentage to charity. This is very easy to do via eBay and can be as little as 5% which although sounds small all adds up.

Giving To Local Food Banks

Earlier this year I signed up to a cashback app called Shopmium which either partially or totally refunds your purchase on a specific item bought in a specific store. It’s possible to get free food products and I think it’s a lovely idea to claim these and donate to local banks. Most bigger supermarkets have collections for these near the entrance or exit. What with supermarket value ranges it’s so easy to contribute to these without spending a lot of money. For example 50p could easily cover 2 bags of pasta in Tesco.

Asking Friends And Family When Having Clear Outs

I’ve been very lucky with relatives having clear outs giving me items which have saved me money. I’d estimate a good third of my work wardrobe is second hand and passed along to me which has helped me out a lot. I’ve previously done book swaps with friends, given a keen plant mum some empty plastic pots I wouldn’t use etc. Small actions like this can do someone a good turn without ever costing any money and it reduces waste too. I once had a landlady gift me a beautiful winter coat that was destined for the charity shop when she realised I was struggling in exchange for me listing some items on eBay for her, it worked out well for us both.

Giving Your Time

I appreciate not everyone has the time to spare but asking friends or family you intended to buy Christmas gifts for if there’s anything you could do to help instead could make a world of difference. It could be really simple, cost next to nothing but be a huge help to them. Before lockdown 2.0 a friend offered to take me by car to a Tesco superstore every 2 or 3 weeks to stock up as I only lived near tiny shops and deliveries were impossible to come by. It made my life so much simpler, I didn’t have to worry about physically carrying it all home and was able to actually stock the cupboards properly.

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My 100th Blog Post: A Round Up Of Recent Best Beauty Bargains – Too Good To Not Share!

This marks my 100th post on my blog, I honestly can’t believe I’ve hit this number already! The last round up of best beauty bargains I posted was around my birthday month so decided a post like this was long overdue. I got very lucky with beauty bargains and freebies just before Lockdown 2.0 kicked in so decided to share them with you.

L’Occitane

I purchased this straight away for a gift with a specific recipient in mind who loves high end beauty and I love a bargain so it was perfect! L’Occitane were offering a free tin with 2 mini hand creams in worth £7 with any purchase and 15% off. I purchased one of the cheapest items on the website and with the discount code it was £3.40. Delivery into store was free and I got incredibly lucky that this arrived the day before we went into Lockdown 2.0. Gift wrapping was also free and the parcel included a card with personalised message as well as 3 skincare samples all in a lovely bright yellow bag. I couldn’t be happier with this for a present and almost wish I’d order 2 lots now!

Charles Worthington Full Size Hair Products – Boots

I’ve got into the habit whenever I’m in Boots or Superdrug and time allows to just have a good browse. Last month I saw full size bottles of Charles Worthington hair conditioner with an RRP of £7.99 for just £2. I took 2 bottles to the till and was told they were on a 3 for 2 offer so I grabbed a 3rd. With 10% student discount I paid £3.60 for £23.97 worth of hair product. These will make the perfect addition to some beauty hampers I’m making for friends and also for me to keep the price of hair washing super low!

House Of Fraser – New Loyalty Club

I saw HoF were offering free beauty bags to those who signed up in store to their new rewards scheme. Images of the bags I saw online included a full size can of dry shampoo and as I needed a bottle of this anyway decided to claim whilst picking up my L’Occitane order. Inside was a dry shampoo, 2 full size lip balms, a box of beauty wipes and a Guerlain sample. I needed a new lip balm as well so was really pleased with this considering they had an RRP of £5 each. The whole bag of products was worth around £16 and some items will be added to Christmas gifts.

Feel Unique Beauty Kit

I was so impressed with this I wrote an entire post on it with the details of the huge savings I made. I was also pleased that the packaging was entirely recyclable as an added bonus!

Estee Lauder

This will forever be a brand close to my heart as their Double Wear foundation transformed my confidence when my acne was at its worse and thought of leaving the house without make up terrified me. I paid a grand total of £5.50 including shipping for everything in this image. The pencil sharpener I purchased, the bag and deluxe samples a gift and the 2 sachets were an addition at the checkout.

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My Current Morning AM Skincare Routine – Acne Prone Sensitive Skin

I decided to share both my current morning and evening skincare routines and this post is a follow up to the Evening PM post which was voted for first on my Instagram account. Please note I am not a beautician or dermatologist. I’ve been dealing with very acne prone skin for around 6 years and in this time have learnt a lot about what works for my skin and what really doesn’t but everyone is different. If you’re struggling with your skin the NHS recommends speaking to a pharmacist before consulting a GP if needed – this is the route I took when my skin first developed acne.

Step 1 : Wash Cleanse

I currently alternate between cleansers – this is explained fully in my PM post which preceded this one. In short I was using a La Roche Posay product, my active ingredients changed as advised by a pharmacist so I purchased a more hydrating cleanser from CeraVe. I appreciate this totally isn’t necessary at all I’m just trying not to waste products hence using them in this way. Twice a week I also use Acnecide Gel Wash, again, as advised by a pharmacist after an in depth chat about my skin. I only use this on my most acne prone areas so chin and jawline. If I use this product any more often than this my skin gets really dry and sore so it took some juggling to find the right balance.

Step 2 – Toner / Exfoliant

Toners and exfoliants the one product that I’ve probably tried the most of to find something effective that I like. I recently used the REN Ready Steady Glow toner and liked it but wanted to find something less pricey. This has led me to using the Pixi Glow Tonic which I don’t use on a daily basis and never use after the Acnecide cleanser which is Benzoyl Peroxide based. I’ve found the toner to be gentle and not cause any breakouts and I’m about 3 weeks into using it. So far I’ve noticed its helped with hyperpigmentation which is great. My enlarged pores may also look slightly less congested.

Step 3 – Moisturiser

This is an absolute favourite product of mine – La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo+ moisturiser. It’s lightweight, hydrating, never stings or pills and works wonders on fading hyperpigmentation. I’m a huge fan. I will sometimes use a very small amount of my Cetaphil Rich Night Cream around my chin or jawline area if I think they feel in need of it, especially with mask wearing!

Step 4 – SPF

I only discovered the importance of wearing SPR daily via following lots of skincare and acne accounts on Instagram. Since then I’ve been working my way through quite a few different samples of SPF including Eucerin Anti Pigment, La Roche Posay Anthelios and The Body Shop. I plan to purchase the La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+ SPF 30 next as I love the original so much and it’ll save me having to buy two separate products.