Christmas: A time for giving

Give and take, actually. Christmas is full of unspoken family rules about present buying. Who are your staple recipients, who gets a higher budget, what can you actually afford. Even what does that person deserve.

Last year I posted about a family member who crosses me off their ‘shopping list’ because they had heard I wasn’t buying presents. I did end up buying everyone a small gift each as I felt I wanted to acknowledge them all! There was a little confusion and this one family member was embarrassed that I hadn’t let them know and that they hadn’t bought me anything. This is fine because I do not buy to get a present back. Just a thank you is a nice acknowledgement.

Anyway, this year the same family member made a comment (almost a complaint) that they felt obliged to buy a gift in return for receiving one. This exaplains the year before, however I felt I needed to share that although I am always thankful for receiving and I never expect it, I didn’t feel a pressing need to go and buy a present in return.

I explained how money, time and size of family can play a part in my thinking and my value of Christmas present buying itself.  I like to give thought to gifts and spend time with people rather than buy some rubbish they dont actually want or need! The family members reply was that I could go to Poundland and buy anything, just something, in return. The point was evidently missed. I choose not always return with a gift!

The people who I buy for are the people who I feel are a part of my everyday world. I give to them because they are kind people who deserve a little treat! I sometimes give a small chocolate or I offer to babysit, or even just give a framed photo of me and them. But I do not give because I know someone is getting me something or they have got something. If I didn’t think of you before, there would be a reason. Harsh but true!

Martin Lewis from Money Saving Expert says:

“Perhaps the real gift is to release someone from the obligation of buying you a present.”

I could not agree more. Do not buy gifts just to receive them and do not go overboard so that the recipient feels a need to return a gift as a way of saying thank you. You make the choice and the recipient should not pay to receive. It’s like getting a card in the post but having to pay for the stamp!

– Lauren


Christmas Cookies


After seeing how easy it is to make gingerbread men I purchased a new cookie cutter and along with some little gingerbread cookies made this sweet tree.  May have got a bit fancy with the icing baubles, it felt nicer to leave it all white rather than have smarties stuck to it. Next attempt with be smartie cookies!

– Lauren

Cinnamon Apples

I’m not the greatest fan of cinnamon tasting things but after making my Ginger and Cinnamon biscuits and quite liking the subtle hint, I thought I’d tick off something I have wanted to do for a while!

I had no recipe for this, I just picked two red apples from the fruit bowl and the cinnamon spice from the cupboard. Using common sense I tried to cut the apples finely to look like pre-cooked crips, including the core. I didn’t have a clue how to remove the core without a core remover so it stayed in!


After finely chopping I just sprinkled cinnamon all over them, placed on a grease proof paper lined tray and popped into the oven on gas mark 5. I kept checking to see if they were drying out and flipping them over, some were a crispy on the outside but still like cooked fruit on the inside but they still tasted good!

I love the stars in the middle, so pretty!


I think they could have been more finely chopped with a suitable Apple slicer (we own but I didn’t think to use at the time) and this would have given them a better crisp texture. Red apples aren’t the normal to cook with so next time I’ll swap for big juicy green ones! I didn’t see a need to use oil but actually that adds a great crunch to roast potatoes so it might help frazzle the crisps a bit more. Overall they looked the part and tasted good it was just the texture that didn’t really leave them defined as a crisp!! Any tips would be appreciated.