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Tue 05 Dec 2023

Good cheer, good will and great bargains!

Christmas… some will be shuddering at the merest mention of the word, rolling their eyes at the schmaltzy ads on TV and utterly dreading ‘silly season’. Then there are those who unpacked their tinsel and hung out their stockings as soon as Bonfire night fizzled out. But no matter which pole you sit at (see what I did there?), one thing’s for sure, the majority of us will have considerably lighter purses and emptier bank accounts come January.

There are ways to celebrate Christmas in style, and have loads of festive fun, while saving yourself some money. Charity retails is a great way of shopping smart and sustainably. Your future skint self and the environment will thank you!

So with that in mind, here’s my personal top five fave ways to spend less, and still get some Christmas bangers from Charity shops.

1. Shhhh! It’s Secret Santa time

Whether its your office crew or your besties, Secret Santa can be a great alternative to having to buy individual gifts, so you’re already saving money. Add in a layer of goodness to the annual proceedings by specifying that all gifts have to be bought from a charity shop!

You will get more for your budget and it really fires up the imagination. You’ll come across some weird and wonderful items you might not have thought of purchasing, if you’d gone down the regular ‘high street’ stores route.

One of my absolute favorite Secret Santa gifts was from a charity shop challenge. My well loved, very well used, cut glass decanter houses my gin stash throughout the year, but at Christmas, gets stocked with my seasonal tipple of choice - a good port!

And yes… I did fill it especially for the photograph, and yes, I did have to sample it.

 2. Bring on the bling

I will put my hands up and say I am a tad vain, but in the age of social media, party season can be a clothing headache and cause a pain in the wallet. Who wants their Insta feed to feature the same outfit in every pic throughout December?

That’s where shopping at one of the Tenovus Cancer Care stores or Ebay site comes in. There are sparkly tops, little black dresses, waistcoats, shirts, ties, fancy pants and dancing shoes – the works!

Even swapping a stylish scarf for a fancy set of beads can change a simple outfit completely. So keep your peepers open for accessories to spice up something you already have.

Speaking of scarves, I picked up my find of the year about a week ago. A blue velvet scarf embroidered with stunning pink flowers at both ends. Now do I gift it as first intended? OR do I keep it, because it’s so blinking gorgeous? Decisions decisions!

3. A crafty Christmas

If you’re handy with a needle and thread or a whizz with a glue gun, charity shops can be a treasure trove of items to repurpose or upcycle.

There are thousands of fantastic ideas online for projects you can craft to give as gifts or to decorate the home at Christmas. There’s something for all abilities like making Christmas Gonks from socks, sewing cushion covers from shirts or woolly jumpers or making hand pored candles in China teacups.

Some charity shops actually have craft sections, where you can pick up donated wool, knitting needles, ribbon, buttons and various other craft paraphernalia.

And my top tip: Duvet covers, curtains and tablecloths can work out so much cheaper than buying fabric by the meter. With the added bonus of coming across some real vintage gems every now and again. Like the gorgeous vintage embroidered tablecloth I picked up last summer for £2!

4. Shop from your sofa

If you’re a bit short of time, or just don’t fancy venturing into the wind and rain to do your shopping, you can get your charity retail therapy from under a blanket while you sip your cuppa.

The Tenovus Cancer Care Ebay shop has some fabulous fashion and footwear and really interesting collectables on offer. Not to mention a range of lovely Christmas cards. Some of which are available in Welsh.

And then there’s the fabulous online shop that launched back in September, which is stuffed full of gorgeous gifts and homeware. I love the wellness section, which has a great collection of crystals, candles, journals and lamps.

There are always seasonal themed items on offer too, so it’s a great place to pick up some Christmassy goodies. I’m obsessed with the wooden plaques. I just can’t decide which is going to grace my wall this year.

And if you’re struggling to buy for that one person who has everything, the one who always says “Don’t buy for me”, then you can’t go wrong with a virtual gift. You can ‘gift’ from £10 to help support the vital services Tenovus Cancer Care provide for so many people affected by cancer.

5. Christmas Crackers

This is the ‘wild card’… The most bonkers of the five, but I think, the most fun!

It’s usually Halloween that takes the fancy dress crown, but Christmas can be a fun time to dress up and be daft too.

This year, instead of Secret Santa, my group of bestest mates are taking on the Charity dress up challenge. Think Secret Santa but instead of a nice gift you get to prance about in an outfit that’s been chosen for you.

It works like this. We will all put our name in the magic hat, but as well as our name, we will write down our dress sizes (yes we are this close). We choose a name and then we’ll have one week and £10 budget to go charity shop shopping for an outfit. If you are a kind hearted sort you could choose something nice, but I know my lot will be on the lookout for the ugliest combo they can find for their chosen victim. We’ll then gather at a friends house for some drinks and be gifted our packed outfit. One by one we will go and change, emerge to what I am sure will be hoots of laughter and phones at the ready to live stream our catwalks… all before braving the outside world for our annual Christmas night out.

I’m not yet sure if I am terrified or excited. And it was my idea! But one thing is for sure, it will make for great photos and some epic memories.

However you intend to spend your Christmas, I hope I’ve given a little spark of inspiration on how shopping sustainably, while supporting a really great cause can fit into your festive plans, and hopefully save you some money along the way.

I wish you a very Merry money-saving Christmas. Let the chaos commence.

If you or someone you love has been affected by cancer, our free Support Line is there for you. Just call 0808 808 1010