Packages Arriving!

The excitement! All my orders from over the weekend and earlier this week are starting to arrive. Its very exciting! I have to wait for a quiet time, when I can be sure that I won’t be surprised by a little person appearing beside me, to open them up.

Just a note to remember when ordering online – make sure to double check the measurements! One of the “big” Christmas presents arrived, and the box is tiny compared to what I was picturing. It is not the end of the world, because really it is about the contents inside – but just when you picture it standing under the tree, its not what I was hoping for. Particularly as it is for my eldest, and all her bits are teeny tiny sizewise but expensive lol.

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Bargain Hunter

So my husband always says if I think I’m getting a good deal, I have to buy. And he’s right. But I don’t just believe I’m getting a good deal because the shop says it, I always check around. If its food, I’ll double check the Tesco and Supervalu websites. Depending on what else it is, I’ll check Amazon, Argos and then more specific shops depending on what catagory its in (you know – toys, technology, clothes, etc) – to make sure I really am getting a good deal. I hate wasting money! I always have loads of items in my Amazon basket, waiting to buy (until payday, or until closer to when they’re needed etc) – and so I see the prices go up and down. And if I know they had been cheaper, then I won’t buy them until they go back down in price!

But as I said about hating wasting money, that also goes for quality. I hate wasting money on poor quality things. I feel if you’re going to spend the money, you should make sure to get the best item possible for your money. Its like the story of the pair of boots; the poor man can only afford to buy a pair of boots that last one year and they start leaking before the year is up, and they cost 20e… the rich man buys a pair of boots that last 10yrs and don’t leak, but they cost 50e and the poor man can’t afford that out of his salary. In the 10yrs the rich man only had to buy the one pair at 50e whereas the poor man has to buy 10 pairs of boots at 20e a pair costing a total of 200euro (so 150e more than the rich man) and he still had wet feet.

So I look for the best quality possible, at the best prices!

In some ways it is quite stressful, because I’m constantly double checking I’m getting the best prices, and reading reviews for quality. But I do enjoy getting good deals, and very rarely do we buy anything that turns out to being pure crap.

My most recent research was for an art set for my 12yr old daughter for a Christmas present. She wants to try different styles of painting, so has asked for a paint/art set. The problem is that it could just end up being thrown into the corner and barely used, so I don’t want to spend a huge amount of money on it. But then if you get really crap quality paints, they won’t be fun to use and when she uses them they won’t give her the proper try out of them she wants.

I started on Amazon looking at sets and reviews and brands, and there was a lot of hit and miss comments on a few differnt products, so I wanted to get more information. I grew up in an arty family, so Kennedys Art Shop in Dublin was my go-to from my memory for art supplies so went on to their website, and also another art shop Evans that I’d been brought to with a friend a few years back. On these sites I was able to get a bit more of an idea of what was out there (loads and loads of options!) but nothing that jumped out at me for my daughter. Then I had a look on Hobbycraft, and again they had a few “mixed media art sets” – some looked very cheap, but there was one with great reviews and while it wasn’t what I had been looking at originally (a full paint set with only acrylics, oils and watercolours) it also had colouring pencils and it all folded out of a box which was something my daughter mentioned, and with more things in it, there is more liklihood of being used. The reviews on this item really swung it for me, and it means that if she does like one of the types of painting over others, then we can get more specific supplies in the future for her, but this covers what she is looking for.

So you can see how much research goes into each purchase, so it’s not just me jumping at a good price. I do try my best to make smart purchases, but love when I get the good purchases at the best price!

Next research project is baking stuff, also for the 12yr old… she wants to add to her cupcake decorating skills and equipment! I have nozzle head sizes going around in my head lol!

Offers on Toys at the Moment

So, I’m on the countdown to Christmas! I know, I know, its still months until Christmas (well actually 12wks, 4 days!)… but I spend all year planning for it lol, and go into major mode in September once they go back to school. In fairness, we have a pretty big family to buy for – and I like to be thoughtful about my gifts – and its a huge cost if we don’t plan and budget for it. And I love Christmas, and the planning, and I like to be mostly done early and have nothing to be stressed about in December so I can just enjoy all the festivities!

So for anyone who is similiar to me and likes to get some bits sorted, both Smyths and Argos have offers on on toys this week.

Smyths has 10euro off on every 50euro spent – and unlike other years, there’s no vouchers or limits. If you spend 50, you save 10. If you spend 100, you save 20. If you spend 500, you save 100. Its 20% off – but only on each 50. In other words, if you spend 60, you still only get 10 off. Thats running until Sunday. I saw a few people say that things they were looking at went up in price just before the sale, therefore making the discount pointless. But I had filled my basket about 2 weeks ago, and nothing I had in my basket increased in price. So I was very happy with my 20% off on all my shopping. My son is Lego mad, so I always know its a safe bet buying him Lego even at the early stages, and then of course there are a few other bits he’s mentioned he’d like over the last few months so I picked them up too as surprises!

Argos then have a 3 for 2 offer. This is great if you know you’re getting a good deal, but you do need to be more careful. Their prices are usually more expensive to start with (when its sale time) and so you technically are getting 33% off – but when you think that the item might be more expensive to start with, you might not be getting a good deal. In other years, I’ve found it great for the more expensive items – if you’re spending over 80e on three things, it has generally worked out better than elsewhere. So if three items are 80e each, and you’re getting them for the price of 2, thats 160e, so that will work out as just under 54euro each – so that could be a great saving, as long as you can’t find those items cheaper elsewhere! I know I did this the year the kids wanted the Furby Booms and Teksta Dino/Kitties – and I saved a good bit, even compared to other sales. But you really do need to make sure you’re saving on this one!

I always price check off Amazon as well first, to be sure I am getting a good deal – and this gives a good idea too of whether the shops are marking way up just to discount them for the sales.

Christmas Planning!

I LOVE Christmas!

I refuse to start decorating, or “getting in the spirit” until December…. but I start planning ages in advance.

We have a big family, we have a lot of people to buy for, and a lot of days to organise…. which of course costs a lot of money, but also takes a lot of organising, and can cause a lot of stress if I don’t feel I’m sorted early enough!!

Every year I feel that I leave certain things until the last minute – and therefore the following year I strive to be more organised. It means then I can enjoy December and all the festive celebrations properly!

Our first tradition of the season (actually starts before December!) is that on the last Friday of November, “The Toy Show” is on. This is an Irish television programme where children play with toys and show them to the presenter, there is some music and dancing and a bit of audience participation… with lots of prizes thrown in (cue “and there’s one for everyone in the audience”) – and our kids are allowed stay up late for this, as we were as children, with a big box of Christmas sweets. And I set up mini Christmas trees in the kids rooms for them to start it all off.

The rest of the decorations then go up on the 1st of December, except the tree which is around the 8th.

What do you think, is it too early for Christmas planning or discussion?