Tuesday, 22 November 2011


I just got back from town. I drove there happily singing Christmas songs to myself, but came back moodily staring over the steering wheel.

I was hoping to pick up a few bits I need to make my Christmas presents. The plan was to slowly mill around, absorbing the beginnings of the festive cheer whilst picking up some bargains. Town was packed, and it's a Tuesday afternoon! I had to park sooo far away from the shops to get a free parking space (hey, I could use that £4!) and wandered down into the city centre.

Slowly picking my way through the crowds, I went to the market. I'm making my young cousin a stuffed toy and needed fabric. I couldn't find any patterned polycotton for less than £9 a metre!! What?! I only need about that but it'd be cheaper to BUY a toy at that price!

So then I thought I'd go to the charity shops and find some skirt that I could cut up and use. In Plymouth the Red Cross shop was having a £1.99 or under sale a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't know if we had one of those in Truro so I went to Oxfam. The cheapest thing I could find in there was £4.99, and it looked as though it had cost about that to buy new!! Most of the stock was priced around £10 or £15! Since when do charity shops have prices as high as the highstreet??

I was getting disenchanted by the whole affair as walking through town makes you feel like you should be spending hundreds of pounds on each family member or else you're a terrible person. I actually heard someone say, “I got ... for ..., but I still have to spend another £30 at least”. Not “I would like to get them something they'd like”, but “I have to spend this much on person X”. I'm sure I've thought similar things in the past too, but if you stop and think about it, that's an awful way to look at Christmas. Even if you are not religious but celebrate it for the traditions like me, the spirit of Christmas is still the same, and it ain't about the £££!


Pamela said...

How frustrating! Did the fabric store have any scrap fabric or seconds that would be useable and affordable? I agree that a lot of thrift stores are getting expensive these days. The one near me still has good deals, but the material can be pretty shopworn.

Meanqueen said...

I'm just back from town and it was pretty awful here as well. I walked the five and a bit miles there, and got the bus back. I only bought what I went for. I agree about the charity shops being as expensive as the main shops. I wonder if you have a Scrapstore near you, the one at Hull has lots of cheap fabric. Worth a google.

saving for travel said...

I also agree, that some charity shops are pricing themselves out of the market.

Good luck with this challenge.

Sft x

Justine said...

I have recently become really disenchanted with charity shops as they want to charge high prices!! Christmas does appear to be more consumerised these days.

Frugal Down Under said...

Now go through your clothes and your mums to see if there's anything that you can reuse.

And see if you can join a Freecycle yahoo group in your area to find something. Freecycle helps me out a lot for buttons and other bits and bobs. Keeps your money in your pocket and landfill our of mother earth for a bit longer.

Life In The Thrifty Lane said...

Totally agree with you!

lizzie said...

I got together with my family years ago and we talked about Christmas gifting and decided not to do it anymore and we still have a great time.
Little kids should have a toy but adults - what do they need - not more stuff surely. As for charity shops they are in business to make as much money for their charity as they possible can and your money is at least going to a good cause.
I think charity shops are a bit of a black hole for cash. I am going to add up what I spend in them next year. I think I would do better at one or two judicious boot fairs and garage sales during the summer.
Love you blog, by the way, talk about a old head on young shoulders, more power to you !!

Maria said...

Hey there, I'm catching up on a week's worth of your blog - which I should say I really enjoy :) (for background, I'm a bit older than you, 28, and currently lucky to be employed, but I remember being straight of uni and without a job in 2003 - and that was *Before* the recession started - and I also lost my job in 2009 and it took me months to find my current job. Sorry, not trying to sound depressing or patronising, rather empathising!)

I agree with you that the Christmas spirit is not about the £££ and I hope you don't get too downhearted by the attitude of others to this. On the fabric front, I would suggest as others have done - try free cycle, or see if there are offcuts available somewhere? I know Debenhams fabric shop has a big bin with all the odds and ends of leftover fabric at cheaper prices.