Thrifty mum who is not buying her kids a single Christmas present – but making them instead

Jen Gale and her sons William, 7, and Samuel, 4, who have made various homemade Christmas decorations (SWNS Group)

Thrifty mum Jen Gale won’t be buying presents for her children this Christmas – but is MAKING them all instead.

A homemade Christmas advent truck made by the Gale family (SWNS Group)
A homemade Christmas advent truck made by the Gale family (SWNS Group)

Mum-of-two Jen, 38, will wrap up homemade bath bombs and bobble hats for her two young boys instead of giving them the Star Wars toys and Lego they asked for.

She plans to spend less than £30 on making quirky presents for William, seven, and Samuel, four, because she is fed up with today’s “disposable society”.

The Gales will also send homemade cards and eat their Turkey dinner at a table covered in hand-crafted decorations – next to a DIY Christmas tree fashioned from pom poms.

Jen and husband Ben, 40, an office manager, want to teach their boys that there is more to the festive season than piles of gifts.

Her thrifty Christmas has emerged just a week after Emma Tapping, 35, was slammed for spoiling her three children with £1,500 worth of presents.

Jen Gale and her sons William, 7, and Samuel, 4, who have made various homemade Christmas decorations (SWNS Group)
Jen Gale and her sons William, 7, and Samuel, 4, who have made various homemade Christmas decorations (SWNS Group)

Jen, of Warminster, Wilts., said William and Samuel love nibbling on the ‘reindeer poo’ fudge bits she has made them and watching their bath bombs fizz.

She said: “On Christmas morning, the boys will wake up and they’ll have stockings first of all.

“They will have some bits and bobs in such as homemade fudge, a bobble hat each and a satsuma.

“Between William and Samuel, I plan to spend about £30 on presents.”

After waking up to sparse stockings, the boys will enjoy a roast turkey lunch with their parents before going out for a walk together and playing family games like Pictionary.

They will also unwrap a few second-hand gifts, collected from car-boot sales and charity shops over the year, from underneath the tree.

Jen said that she doesn’t think the boys compare themselves to other children, although William, her eldest, does notice that some of his classmates have iPads.

On his Christmas list, he asked for chocolate coins, some Star Wars figurines and a Horrible Histories book, while Samuel asked for Lego and a digger.

“The first time we did this, we saved around £300 or £400 altogether,” she said.

“Neither of the boys made particularly big Christmas lists but they do ask for things, and we don’t want them to be crestfallen so hopefully we will strike a happy medium.

“We’re just being slightly more deliberate about what we get. We haven’t bought anything new at all.

A homemade fire engine toy box  (SWNS Group)
A homemade fire engine toy box (SWNS Group)

“I don’t know if lots of presents spoil children, but I think in some respects we, as parents, condition them to want lots of things.

“The first Christmas when William was old enough to know what was happening, it was us who were saying ‘open the next one, open the next one’.

“It is what we bring them up to expect. He would have been perfectly happy to have just a few things.

“We equate ‘stuff’ with happiness. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that the more things they have the happier they will be. It is not about the stuff.

Homemade beanbags  (SWNS Group)
Homemade beanbags (SWNS Group)

“We get given presents and we are elated. But a week later, it has become normal and we have forgotten about it and moved on to the next thing.”

Jen said she decided to start celebrate Christmas differently after having a ‘buy nothing new’ year in 2012.

When it comes to presents for family, she and Ben prefer to buy ‘experiences’ rather than things that will take up space, like National Trust memberships or cinema tickets.

They also make their own decorations from salt dough, paper chains, bunting, crackers, cards and gift wrap, using brown paper which the boys decorate with potato stamps.

And in the past three years, the Gales have made Christmas trees out of egg boxes, stripped wire lamp frames piled on top of one another and pom poms.

Homemade fudge which will be given as presents  (SWNS Group)
Homemade fudge which will be given as presents (SWNS Group)

Jen said: “My parents didn’t do this sort of thing. We weren’t particularly crafty and my mum would always go massively overboard with presents.

“My childhood memories are of huge bulging stockings, and brightly wrapped presents piled up under the tree, spilling out onto the surrounding floor on Christmas morning.

“I have always equated Christmas with hours spent poring over the Argos catalogue carefully curating long lists of all the things I want, and piles of shiny new toys.

“It did feel really magical when there was this massive stack of presents underneath the Christmas tree and a stocking at the end of the bed.

“But the things we buy have an impact, whether it’s on out bank balance or the environment.

Homemade peanut butter biscuits (SWNS Group)
Homemade peanut butter biscuits (SWNS Group)

“Somebody somewhere has had to make these things and they had to be shipped over her. And then they go to a landfill site.

“I’m worried that my kids will turn round to me in a few years’ time and say, ‘What were you doing?’ We may only be one family, but we’re doing what we can.

“Everyone celebrates Christmas differently, but I think the amount of presents some people buy is excessive. It’s just the sheer volume of it all.

“These things don’t just appear by magic. There might be someone’s child making something that my child is going to play with.

“That doesn’t sit very well when you actually stop and think about it.”

Full-time mum Jen runs her own blog, My Make Do And Mend Life, where she writes about her attempts to lessen her family’s impact on the environment.


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