This festive season, we’ve been considering things we can do as a family that will ensure we all break out a seasonal smile but won’t break the bank.

We all know Christmas is an expensive time of year. Of course, there’s the gifts and the food, but those traditional expenses are expected and can often be planned for. But what might send the cost of Christmas spiralling out of control, is the pressure to spend big on extravagant trips to visit Father Christmas (what’s wrong with a department store Santa, played by Colin from the warehouse?), ice skating at elaborate rinks, trips to winter wonderlands full of expensive rides and much, much more. Whilst we can often cover such excesses with the old ‘making memories’ line, it’s important to remember, kids don’t know monetary value, and are much more likely to be cheered by your presence rather than presents.


Last week Arlo and I took in a free festive afternoon, visiting the famous Coca-Cola truck in Watford as part of my ongoing partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain to learn more about their sustainable packaging ambitions. Whilst the relevance of the truck and its iconic ‘Holidays Are Coming’ advert might have been lost on 3-year-old Arlo, we were all wowed by the bright red and huge Santa emblazoned on the side. There was also fake snow, Christmas trees, seasonal songs and happy elves (who looked suspiciously like students to me!!) taking our seasonal snaps. Whilst we were there, I sampled a free Diet Coke (there was also the traditional Coke plus Coca-Cola zero sugar) and was impressed by the amount of recycling bins to ensure the used cans started their recycling journey. Did you know it takes just 8 weeks for a recycled can to be back on the shop shelves – impressive. It was also good to know Coca-Cola Great Britain has been working with the local councils of all 24 stops on the truck tour to ensure extra recycling is available. Such efforts continue Coca-Cola’s #WorldWithoutWaste ambition to recover all packaging in the UK so that none of it ends up as litter on our streets on oceans.


The rest of the Christmas period will see us trying out other experiences that won’t mean I go into the New Year fretting over my festive spending.

At this time of year, there’s not much that can beat a cold, crisp walk with the family. There’s something so reassuring and cosy about wrapping up in scarves, gloves and hats and enjoying countryside walks lined by holly bushes, watching our dogs dart around with more excitement than a child on Christmas morning.

Also, just a simple trip into our nearest town doesn’t necessarily have to involve lots of expensive outlays. Just being amongst the rosy-cheeked shoppers, the carol singers, the chestnut sellers and the sea of Christmas jumpers will raise the Christmas cheer in our family.

Whilst in town, we’re going to do the following:

·         Sample the Christmas market – as I said, we don’t have to spend a fortune, but just being amongst the small Scandinavian-styled huts, can feel very festive. Ok, I might fork out on a mulled wine, but that shouldn’t put me on the naughty list.

·         Visit Santa – Colin from the warehouse better be ready.

·         Drink a cup of hot chocolate laced with smelly festive spices in the cold winter air. I need something to wash down the mulled wine don’t I, plus the kids can get involved with a nice warming choccy drink.

·         Watch carol singers. Warning, if you’re near me, wear ear muffs. Not to keep your ears warm, nope. They’re to drown out my flat vocals – I love a bit of ‘Away in a Manger’.

·         Catch the reindeer parade. Funny how these reindeer are able to get around so many towns on the same day for these parades – I’ve seen them advertised for three of my nearest towns, all on the same day. I guess it must have something to do with their magic dust that allows them to fly so quickly.


·         Any finally, I’m setting the children a ‘spot the…’ challenge, cleverly (I think you’ll agree) named ‘I Spy Mince Pies’. Edie and Arlo will be given a sheet of paper listing festive things they need to spot around town. You can download the version below and have a go yourselves if you fancy – season of goodwill and all that. I’ve purposely left off ‘child having a meltdown because they want a toy now and don’t understand they need to wait until Christmas’. That’s a given.

Whatever you’re doing over this Christmas period, have a fabulously festive time, and remember it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Oh, and if you want to ensure you’re on the nice list, please, please recycle all the waste this time of year creates! The oceans will love you more than the kids love Santa.

I spy, warm mince pie.png