Kitty Blackadder

A Scottish blog about anxiety, minimalism and eyeshadow.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Custom Advent Calendars - The One for my Mum

Following on from my overview post, I’ve decided I’ll just take a post to work through each person’s calendar day by day. I’ll try and have photos of things as much as I possibly can, but I won’t have for everything, so I apologise in advance. Before we start I’ll just recap with mum’s ‘description’:

MUM: 50 years old, nurse/manager, likes chocolate (but is picky), doesn’t do cheap makeup/beauty products (even if they’re perfectly good), doesn’t really drink, doesn’t have a hobby at all. 

 And also just to remind you, the aim is to get 24 little advent calendar presents she'll enjoy, won't just be clutter and will cost less than £30.

December 1st – Burt’s Bees, Almond Milk Beeswax hand cream
Initially I planned to start off with the little things and work up to the bigger things, but then I realised that that would be hard to do; what if I put what I thought was amazing right at the end and actually, it was a big anti-climax for them!? So I decided just to go in random order, but to start with something kind of substantial, just to kick things off right.
So mum is getting a little 7g jar of Burt’s Bees Almond Hand Cream. It’s a small quantity I know, but mum would rather have a little amount of lovely stuff than a big tube of cheaper stuff. Plus, it is an advent calendar gift after all!
I bought this as part of a gift set that was going cheap on Amazon. The set was £8.66 and had six little products in it (all to be divvied up into advent calendar gifts), meaning the unit cost was £1.40. Seemed a good cost for a little taste of something so lovely!
Cost for the day: £1.40
Overall cost to date; £1.40

December 2nd – Fry’s Chocolate Orange Bars
Keeping things a little more simple today, mum will be getting two bars of her favourite ‘handbag’ chocolate. That meaning; stuff she carries about with her and stuffs in her face nibbles on when out and about. I feel weird putting something like this in, it feels like cheating somehow, but – as I said in my original post – I have to remember who I’m doing this for, and mum will be chuffed with some chocolate.
Cost for the day: £1 (They were on special offer)
Overall cost to date; £2.40

December 3rd - The Body Shop, Lip Balm; Raspberry.
I was unsure about including this one as mum isn’t a big Body Shop fan, but this actually looks really nice. And smells nice. And tastes nice. Anyway, I think she’ll like this. It’s also a tub rather than a stick which she much prefers. I ordered these when Body Shop had one of their crazy cheap online deals going, so it was a bargain, and – though it may not be mum’s favourite place, the stuff is generally high quality and it's good to try new things sometimes!
Cost for the day: £0.9
Overall cost to date; £3.30

Decemeber 4th – The Works, Christmas tissues
I actually hadn’t thought of tissues, but I saw these by the till at The Works and had to grab them. Pretty and practical. I don’t know that they look the best of quality, but the design is nice, they were a bargain, and odds are they won’t face any heavy duty use (ew) as none of us tend to get colds, so I’m sure they don’t need to be that adsorbent anyway (ew). They were on offer, two packs for a pound.
Cost for the day: £0.5
Overall cost to date; £3.80

December 5th – Boots, White Collection Mini Shower Gel in Uplifting Bergamot
This is one of the buys I’m most proud of finding for this. Boots has (I think) reworked their White Collection range this year so it now contains three very distinct smells; Calming Chamomile, Uplifting Bergamot and Reviving Mandarin. They’re also selling a mini set that contains a body lotion and body wash in each of those scents; so six pieces total. The kit sells for £6, but is part of the 3 for 2 deal that Boots does on it’s Christmas gifts. I think the smells are all lovely (and smell a lot more complex and fancy than the price tag would suggest), and, more helpfully there’s ones Mum and Sis will genuinely like and would pick for themselves.
So taking into account the 3 for 2 offer, I paid £4 for the set, meaning;
Cost for the day: £0.67
Overall cost to date: £4.47

December 6th – L’Occitane, Eau de Toilette Verveine, 10ml
L’Occitane has had some amazing deals on their site this year. Initially it was assumed it was a glitch, as basically it was allowing you to stack codes meaning you got a freebie and a massive discount. However, three orders later, and I think it’s safe to say they knew about it and were happy to allow the orders to go through. This came as part of one the free sets I got. Initially I was going to send it to an elderly relative as a little Christmas minding, but then decided it wasn’t substantial enough. Mum, in the meantime, had ferreted through and decided she liked this, so into her advent calendar it goes. The scent is very citrus – sharp like grapefruit – in the bottle, but once on the skin it softens out and smells a lot smoother. Although this gift was free, I’ve averaged it out over the whole cost of the order meaning… Cost for the day: £1
Overall cost to date: £5.47

December 7th – eBay, red scarf
I ordered this for cheap on eBay, first time I’ve ever done anything like that. I normally use eBay to buy second hand H&M clothes. I was apprehensive as it was coming from Hong Kong and I wasn’t sure when it would arrive or how like the picture it would be. I am very impressed. It has taken about 12 days to get here – but I knew that was the case when I ordered, it is however, good quality and there’s plenty of it. I hate little short scarves. I like them long so you can wind them round and round – extra toasty. This is a god length and a lovely rich, warm red – the kind of red that really suits mum. This will be great to brighten up a black coat/black trousers combo outfit.
Cost for the day: £1.40
Overall cost to date: £6.87
(Sorry appear to have lost the individual photo ): but you can see them here, they're grey with snowflakes on!)
December 8th – Primark, Christmas socks
Again, I’m proud of this find. Primark were selling packs of three cute Christmas socks for £2, which would have been good enough value per pair anyway, but when I took one pack up it scanned for £1, so I of course, ran back to get another pack!!
Each pair in the pack is cute, which is nice as sometimes one is a dud, and who doesn’t love Christmas socks!
Cost for the day: £0.33
Overall cost to date: £7.20

December 9th – Thorntons, Bag of Apricot Delice chocolates
I got these as part of a HUGE Thorntons order I put in a couple of weeks ago – a huge order for other peoples’ Christmas I hasten to add! These are mum’s favourite and, as predictable as it may seem to me, I’m sure she’ll have them snaffled before lunch time on December 9th. Because it was part of a huge/discount code using order, they worked out much cheaper than they ordinarily would, which is great as otherwise I’d probably just have stuck with the likes of Cadburys to keep costs down.
Cost for the day: £1.10
Overall cost to date: £8.30

December 10th – Scratch Card
Thought this one would be a bit of fun – and possibly even a bit of winnings, depending on luck that day! I haven’t actually seen any of the Christmas ones yet – I’d possibly stretch to a £2 one if they’re cuter/look more fun. I just thought it would be something to make a dull December morning a bit more exciting – especially if she wins something!
Cost for the day; £1
Overall cost to date: £9.30

December 11th – Boots, Boots Extract mini cranberry body butter
Again this came as part of a multi pack that I’ve then split up. It was also part of the 3 for 2 gift offer in Boots, so while the pack of four normally sells for £8, the actual cost for me works out as around £5.3 – a pretty nice saving. The cranberry one smells lovely; like frosty winter mornings and y’know, fruit. It’s nice though, not too heavy, but a bit more fragrant than what mum might usually go for. It’s a 50ml tub which is a pretty good size for an advent calendar treat.
Cost for the day; £1.33
Overall cost to date: £10.63

December 12th – H&M, handbag lint roller
We own a white cat… and a black cat. No fabric is safe! Even if an item is brand new, even if it hangs in the closed wardrobe it will be covered in cat hair. It’s like a magnetic attraction. I thought these were super cute and handy – it comes with a couple of refill rolls too which makes it, I think, a really reasonably priced item. No special offers or discounts used on this one.
Cost for the day; £1.00
Overall cost to date: £11.63

December 13th – eBay, butterfly hair clip
 I ordered this weeks ago (it was the first thing I ordered) through eBay and it hasn't arrived yet! It is from Hong Kong and it did say it could take a while so I'm not stressing yet. Well. Kind of. It's a biggish hair clip - mum likes to clip her hair up at work so it looks a bit fancier than using a bauble - and it's black and silver, which are easily wearable colours for her. Unfortunately as it hasn't arrived yet, I can't say anything about quality, or show you guys a photo, sorry!
Cost for the day; £1.1
Overall cost to date; £12.73

December 14th – Marks & Spencers, Christmas pants
These are usually on offer at 4 pairs for £5, which I was planning to buy anyway, but then some discount codes came along meaning I got them for even cheaper! They’re cute and wearable – in a kind of girl shorts/boxers style. They’re certainly not sexy pants, so there’s no weirdness about giving them to my mum! Knowing mum though she’ll only wear them at Christmas which means they’ll lie about the drawer for 51 weeks a year and kind of violates me ‘no clutter’ rule for gift buying, but oh well – everyone needs novelty Christmas pants!
Cost for the day; £1.05
Overall cost to date; £13.78

December 15th – Primark, Christmas stud earrings
Primark sells these in packs of six for £2. I think they’re actually quite sweet. No, they don’t look expensive or fancy, but, let’s face it – tiny, festive earrings are pretty much guaranteed to go missing after one year so I don’t know that I’d pay a lot for them anyways. Mum’s two pairs are gingerbread men and parcels. The gingerbread men won’t stand out too much as they’re kind of skin toned, but she just LOVES gingerbread men. Well, she loves them aesthetically on Christmas decorations, she doesn’t actually like the taste of them! The presents are more colourful and noticeably Christmassy. I thought they’d be good to wear to work in the run up – festive without being inappropriately over the top for a hospital. I decided to divide up the pack of six partly to keep costs down, and partly because six sets of novelty studs seemed a bit overkill to be honest!
Cost for the day; £0.67
Overall cost to date; £14.45

December 16th – Burt’s Bees, Hand Salve
Another component of the Burt’s Bees gift set that I bought. This is the little mini 8.5g tin. It’s a small amount, but again – it’s a high quality product, and also, this makes it perfect to slip in a handbag or makeup bag. Because mum works in the hospital where they have to use alcohol gel and wash their hands about a million times a day, she often gets dry skin on her hands, so hand products are always appreciated – especially in winter!
Cost for the day; £1.40
Overall cost to date; £15.85

December 17th – eBay, foot warmers
I think I got lucky with the price I got on these, as I sat down to write this I thought I’d take a glance over at the prices of them on eBay and I couldn’t see any under £2.50 – which is more than double what I paid! Either I got lucky or prices go up this time of year as this is when there’s demand! These are the one use kind, which keeps costs down (a lot in this case), means they can be used up and won’t clutter, and will be a lovely treat on a day where she’s outside for a long time.(Admittedly no specific occasion is springing to mind at the moment but I’m sure it does happen!)
Cost for the day; £1.20
Overall cost to date: £17.05

December 18th – The Body Shop, Gingerbread Man sponge
I mentioned above how much mum loves gingerbread men and when I saw this little guy online he was just too cute to resist – have to admit I was tempted to get one for myself too! He’s a lovely size and because of his shape he’s really easy to hold and (I’d imagine) to use, unlike some of the others they had that were huge balls (snow man, reindeer) and would be easy to drop when they’re all soaped up and slippy. This adorable gingerbread man normally retails for £3.50 but I had a 40% off code so:
Cost for the day: £2.10
Overall cost to date: £19.15

December 19th – Primark, Christmas socks
Remember I said I bought two packs? Well this is mum’s pair from the second pack!
The first pair (the photo’s above, just scroll up) were pretty pedestrian – a nice simple design that she can wear under her clogs at work (she likes the socks to have red in them as her Crocs are red). This pair is a bit more Boom, it’s the holidays. Also, the silly pun will appeal to mum’s childish sense of humour.
Cost for the day; £0.33
Overall cost to date; £19.48

Decmber 20th – Marks &Spencers, aloe vera hand cream
This was part of a multi pack that I’ve split again. It’s a 30ml tube, so a good handbag size and, as I’ve said previously, due to mum working in a hospital; hand products are always a great idea. It smells lovely; it’s a very soft, clean smell. It’s not overpowering, it’s just nice and soothing, very fresh. I also ordered these while M&S had them at half price, and I got 10% cashback through Quidco – so a very good bargain indeed!
Cost for the day; £0.40
Overall cost to date; £19.88

December 21st – Poundland, big bag of Munchies
Mum loves Munchies, but she doesn’t tend to buy them as “she’ll just scoff the lot”. Well I thought, this close to Christmas and all, that wouldn’t be such a crime really. It was pretty good value getting the big 126g bag in Poundland, though I suppose they’re usually on offer somewhere; you just have to hunt about a bit. The 21st is a Saturday so I thought this would be a nice day to give her them as she can munch on them throughout the day, as she no doubt runs around in a blind Christmas panic. Ah, tradition.
Cost for the day; £1.00
Overall Cost to date; £20.88

December 22nd – Marks and Spencers, mango moisturising lip balm
These were in the same 50% off offer as the hand cream above, and again, this was a pack of three. It’s a 12g tub, which is pretty big for a lip balm actually – for example The Body Shop stuff I also got is a pretty average size and it’s only 8.5g!
Oh well, I guess that makes these lip balms more of a bargain! Mum actually hates the smell of mango, so this certainly wasn’t the one I planned to give her out of the pack, but actually, it smells nothing like mango. If you asked me to sniff it without already knowing what it was, I think mango would be about my 7645th guess. Well, I’m sure that’s exaggerating slightly, but honestly, I’d say it smells more like a winter spice/cinnamon/mulled wine type thing – which, as it happens, is one of mum’s favourite kinds of scent.
Cost for the day; £0.75
Overall cost to date: £21.63

December 23rd – Boots, White Collection mini body lotion in Uplifting Bergamot
This is the lotion buddy for the gel I mentioned way back on December 5th. I’ve placed them so far apart because I want to encourage things to be used up, so hopefully she’ll have used the gel by the time she gets to this, whereas if I placed them say, two days in a row, she might save them for going away sometime, because they’re a ‘set’.
Cost for the day; £0.67
Overall cost to date: £22.30

December 24th – um, I’m not sure yet!
Because I have (surprisingly) come in under budget and because it’s Christmas Eve I thought it would be nice to do something a little more substantial, but, I’m taking my time to think of what. A couple of ideas I’m floating about are:
-      Pyjamas, so she can wear them to bed on Christmas night and be all new and lovely for Christmas morning.
-      A bottle of wine, there’s usually stuff about anyway at Christmas, but I figured if she got a ‘bonus’ one she might really chill out and have a couple of glasses on Christmas Eve.
-      Jewellery. Nothing expensive, just a nice costume piece. We have our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, so (once I know what she’s wearing) I can buy a nice piece of jewellery for her to wear to dinner.
Like I said, I’m not in a huge rush to decide – I have time, but I’d welcome any ideas or suggestions people might have!

So that’s mum’s advent calendar for 2013. Hopefully this will become tradition as it’s a lovely way to keep the Christmas spirit alive a little longer. I can’t wait to see her opening her gift each day – and trying to guess what they are before-hand of course!
I think I did well with the budget I had – it wasn’t exactly a huge amount of money, but I feel I got a good variety of decent, useful items; some that will be expected like the Thorntons Apricot Delice chocolates, and some that will be a cheery surprise; like The Body Shop gingerbread man sponge.

Thanks for reading along, please leave any thoughts, suggestions or anecdotes you have in the comments below – I’d love to read them!


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