Simple Tips for a Cheap Christmas

There is a Christmas Market on Cathedral green. The grass is flattened by rustic buildings and baby Jesus has his own, fresh from B&Q, right at the front. This is all a call to spend money, but first I have to take a closer look at that baby.

The donkey looks suspicious and he’s right.

There is no way that is a new born child. Somebody has nicked the baby and replaced it with a toddler. I blame the lack of animals guarding it. Actually, always blame the parents. It is their fault for being too busy praying into the straw to notice.

Back to the market and seeking inspiration to get rid of money.

Cornish Cheese to the right. Cornwall is the home of Davidstow cheese factory, the biggest producer of mature cheddar in the world so I probably already have Cornish cheese in my fridge. I have cheap thoughts about repackaging a bit of old Cathedral City Cheddar in some checked cloth and carry on.

Ooh look! You can get drinking horns on the left. Why is that annoying? Am I just annoyed with November?

What is Wrong with November?

It’s dark, dead sunflowers in the garden, one storm piling in after another until the roof springs a leak, and chickens by door screaming for mashed potato treats and shelter. The days of eating salads plucked fresh from the land are gone.

In October I got ready for this. Trotted out to pluck a pumpkin from the land but discovered we had forgotten to plant any. The nearest I found was a small yellow aubergine.

You cannot carve a face in an aubergine and expect to ward off evil so I cracked and went to Tesco. On October 31st pumpkins were only 90p with a club card, which is not bad for insurance against Bad Things.

I set it to work.

The storm blew out the candle in seconds. But here it is with an LED bike light instead. An effective, storm proof way of warding off dangerous spirits for hours. But that still left the rest of November and an entire winter looming.

But now it is here, the season of wasting money on presents for friends and family is upon us and here are some ways out of it.

Make your own Bird Food

Find some dead sunflowers.

The chickens are so bored. They have given up laying eggs and the most exciting point of their day is when a strange cat passes by. They screech and cluck in overdramatic alarm before chasing the cat away. If you don’t like cats in your garden get some chickens in to sort them out. Works a treat.

The soggy, mouldy sunflower seeds gave them a rest from cat watch. They ate the lot.

Just need a way to crisp those seeds up and bundle them into tasteful hessian sacks for my bird feeding friends. Then I can save my money for a drinking horn.


The holly tree is groaning with berries. On the market you can buy branches for £20 a perfectly arranged Sprig. How many people do I know who would be happy with a bit of this? 

I pick a few spindly twigs from the bottom half, prick my fingers and feel guilty about the robin at the top who was here for his dinner. The tree is actually a giant bird feeding station so I will leave it alone.

There must be more in the Garden 

Heather for making lucky charms

A miniature rose, still flowering but not enough for a bouquet.

Even the Fuchsia is still going. Definitely a bouquet. November is starting to look better than spring. Perhaps the pumpkin worked.

Fresh produce from the polytunnel? I head over excitedly to check for tomatoes, basil, chili and whatever else might have happened in there.

A few brave nasturtiums climb across moulding tomatoes.  Sometimes when you are pretending to be self sufficient it is best just to walk off and find other things to do and let everything look after itself. 

When you come back you may find tomatoes and chilis that have toughed it out and you will definitely find an art installation. Fading, struggling plants work together to make their own sense of it all. I could open this up as a Natural Sculptural Piece and give tickets to visit.

Back to the Old Favourite

None of these ideas are going to work that well. Everybody is going to have to be happy with a drinking horn after all.

But you don’t need to waste money in Poundland on Christmas cards. Go out and spend a fortune on paint and pens to make your own.

The start of the creative process. Black star in snow, Christmas goat, goose bird, Nordic Tomte, gingerbread man and other wonders in the making.

Ignore it and go Walking

You can buy vitamin D at the chemist but it is still around for free in the middle of the day. To get it properly you have to go out for several hours in shorts and a vest, or at least try and get some through your face by turning it to the watery sun for a top up.

Local sheep. Particularly tasty sheep in fact. We can buy them boxed up for Christmas from the farmer. But only if you take out a few loans as the farmer has twigged that the sort of people who buy his meat are not the sort of people who look at food prices.

More watery sun and a lot more water. So this is as far as I got. The storm flooded the valley so the lanes are full of frustrated walkers who can’t get anywhere near the nature reserve any more. This field was full of tasty cattle but they must be long gone to a shed by now.

A wintery sky is not bad first thing in the morning. And it is free. I wish I had a drinking horn for my morning tea. That would surely make it even more special.

6 thoughts on “Simple Tips for a Cheap Christmas”

  1. Now I’ll have to go to that Christmas market to check out all the weird and wonderful things there. Exeter Cathedral have surpassed themselves in their attempt at a bad Christmas manger display. Mary looks like she’s praying for Jesus to go away. Joseph looks like he’s clutching his chest and about to have a heart attack. The donkey looks horrified and has backed up as far away from Jesus as he can get, and what on earth is Baby Jesus lying on? It looks most uncomfortable. Where’s the sheep, the shepherds and the 3 kings ? All in all it’s enough to scare little children.

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