A thrifty mum has told how she no longer gives her kids pricey presents – instead giving them the “gift of time”.
Last Christmas Hayley Parker, 34, surprised her children Daisy, eight, and Freddie, four, by not giving them endless piles of wrapped up gifts.
Instead she gave them a letter explaining she was giving them the gift of time to spend together as a family – away from work, phones and other distractions.
The nursery nurse and husband Barney, 40, gave them 12 envelopes – one for each month – containing a family day out or experience.
So instead of a new bike or computer game, the kids have been on an autumn welly walk, watched a sunset at Lands End and had a games and movie night with pizza.
The mum-of-two from Patrington, Holderness, East Yorks., said her kids loved her idea – and said she’s planning to do it again this December 25.
Hayley said: “As I was thinking of what to get the children last year I felt that they already had plenty of toys and couldn’t think of what we should get them.
“I realised I would be buying things for the sake of it.
“I came up with the idea after seeing something on Instagram saying: ‘Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.’
“I just knew I wanted to create lovely memories for our family and it has been fabulous.
“And it gives the kids something to look forward to each month. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
“After each outing I create a little photo montage so we can see all we have done together.
“The beauty of this is that it is actually things we would have done anyway, but it makes more of an event of it and makes up appreciate it.
“You could make your gifts as cheap or expensive as you like, I’ll try and do free things when I know money will be tight – like after Christmas or our summer holiday.
“I even timed one of our trips for when we were in Cornwall this year. The kids have loved it so much that this year Daisy has asked for it again and that’s a win in my book.
“I have been thinking all year of the things I would like to include for next year.
“I am organised – it’s the best way to save money – but it could even be done by someone less organised by putting ideas into the envelope when the time comes.”
The kids were given a note on Christmas Day which said: “A Year of Adventures – This year we’ve decided to give you the gift of time, our time – time to spend together as a family doing lots of lovely things.
“Time with no interruptions, no work, no phones, just us and you guys.”
Hayley also created 12 envelopes, each containing details of a family outing, which she put in a box.
The children open an envelope on the first day of each month, before booking their event in the diary together, making sure they fit it around rugby and dance classes.
Hayley, married to groundworker Barney, said the kids absolutely loved their shared present and have had a fabulous year because of it.
She still got the kids little second hand pressies to open on the big day.
She said: “I will quite often buy preloved, so we get more for our money.”
She also tries to teach the children the value of money by showing how much they can save by not buying big brands.
She will also always cook from scratch and always take a picnic on their days out.
She said: “I like to make sure I get value for money, we don’t have an incredible amount so we like to make the most of what we do have.
“I work part-time and Barney works reasonable hours, I would rather spend more time with the children than have things.”