20 Affordable Quality Christmas Gifts for Teen Girls

20 Affordable Quality Christmas Gifts Teen Girls
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I thought it would be difficult buying gifts for my teen boy that are not only great quality but are also affordable.  But hang on a sec, my daughter has such definite ideas, she’s no easier! So she wrote a list for me (not a handwritten Father Christmas type note but an online wish list – oh how the times have changed). I also asked for suggestions from other parents and bloggers; and here is our ultimate list.

You can find my gift guide for teen boys (and even Dads) here, there are lots of  ideas on that list that girls would love too.

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Continue reading 20 Affordable Quality Christmas Gifts for Teen Girls

20 Quality Christmas Gifts for Teen Boys that Won’t Break the Bank

twenty quality Christmas gifts for teen boysDoes the thought of Christmas gift buying for your teenaged son send you into a bit of a flap / tailspin / panic?! Here, take a deep breath, grab a nice cup of tea and a note pad ‘cos I have some ideas for you. Now that two of my kids are teens with definite ideas about what’s ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’ (blatant rip-off in adult language ) it’s becoming more difficult to find something other than cash or a voucher that will genuinely be appreciated.

So I asked my son to write a Christmas wish list (note it’s not addressed to the jolly bearded fellow) and I’ve compiled a list of ideas with some added suggestions by friends and other bloggers. I hope you find it helpful too.

Read my teen girl gift guide here.

This post contains affiliate links. Click here for my full disclosure policy.

Continue reading 20 Quality Christmas Gifts for Teen Boys that Won’t Break the Bank

Remembering a child at Christmas

Last Christmas was so unbearably sad. My eight year old nephew had passed away on the 17th December and we just did not know how to make our way through the ‘season of joy’. Everything was bitter, cold and so very dark. Continue reading Remembering a child at Christmas

Another year older, another year wiser?


Christmas – a time of reflection, family, faith and a baby. I was thinking how a lot happens in 365 days and it made me wonder just how many babies are born each year. (Two arrived to two of my siblings so they are in part responsible). I did a little bit of an online search and good grief have you seen this world population website?! It’s not only fascinating but also a little frightening. The births and deaths are live, which makes my eyeballs pop with the thoughts that those numbers represent actual babies arriving breathlessly fast and people really dying, albeit a litle slower. And did you see how many people there are in the word today? Well no, you can’t  focus on the final digit as it keeps changing, but it is phenomenal that there are nearly 7 and a half billion of us weighing our planet down and according to this site there were only half that number of us the year before I was born. What happened lads!?!

I found these two articles published last year: In May the Journal.ie proclaimed: The Irish aren’t making as many babies as they used to… , however, it only took us two months as in July, according to the Irish IndependantBaby boom hits Ireland as we top the European birth rate. So in other words, although we are slowing down here on the Emerald Isle we are still ahead of the rest of Europe. Personally, I blame the wet weather and long winter evenings which keep us indoors.

Facebook told me this morning that one year ago I wrote the following. HA! One year older and wiser? It would be nice to know I’ve become a little wiser after a whole year of trying:

The 12 Guilts of Christmas I gave to myself:
1. I Don’t feel like Cooking a Huge Dinner for a Crowd Guilt
2. I Spent Too Much on that Gift Guilt
3. This Gift was Too Cheap Guilt
4. Forgot the Teacher’s Present Guilt
5. Once Again Didn’t Do a ‘Locally Produced’ Christmas Guilt
6. Bought an ‘alternative’ non-Christmas Tree the Kids Hate Guilt
7. Threw away some of the hand made tree decorations the children made for the past ten years because we have too many, (whew) Guilt
8. Want Really Nice Presents for Myself Guilt
9. Haven’t Bought Supplies for the Charity Hampers yet Guilt
10. Worry Too Much About Christmas Guilt
11. Keep Forgetting the True Meaning of Christmas Guilt
12. And after Christmas, The Undelivered Cards/Gift Guilt

This is what I have learnt:

Number one: I DO want to cook the dinner this year as we will be in the home of my sister and her husband who have spent the past few weeks in hospital with their youngest child.

Number two to twelve. The rest of the items on this list don’t matter anymore, we just want the little guy to be home for Christmas.

It’s a good thing we don’t know what’s in store for us in the year ahead, there’s always bad mixed in with the good. I wouldn’t wish difficult experiences on anyone else but I think going through them is a refining process which can bring something precious to the surface. I’m glad that Christmas comes at the end of the year to remind us of what is most valuable, like people and their babies. We only seem to appreciate them when we are close to losing or have lost them. It makes me realise once again how precious are we to Him who made us and who sent his only son as a humble baby even though He knew how much it would cost Him, so that we may not be lost but found in Him. Merry Christmas everyone.

I will refine them like silver
    and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
    and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
    and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” Zech 13:9

The 'Krismis' Bed

There were six in the bed and the little one said…

In a big country inhabited mostly by people with small houses -like South Africa- Christmas and Easter time could usually mean a long journey home to be with your family and no bed for you to sleep in when you get there. I heard an Afrikaans person once talk about a ‘Krismis Bed’ and I love the holiday-casual-funness that it represents. The word comes from when everyone bunks down together on the floor of the largest room with an assortment of mattresses, blankets and pillows because when they come home, there is no room at the inn for spare beds let alone spare bedrooms.

I would love to have a spare bedroom with an empty bed all made up and ready for a visitor but right now I have spare children. Maybe one day when I’m a grown up, like several of my friends here in Ireland and back in South Africa, I will have one. Although it’s more likely that my kids will grow up and leave home first and even then I’m not guaranteed a spare room. It’s common enough in Ireland now for young adults to be living with their parents as rental accommodation is over priced and scarce.

Anyway, I digress slightly: bodies and beds. This past Easter when family and friends came to stay from the far corners of the globe there were twelve people sleeping under this roof. There was a family of five in one room, ‘CinderNicholas’ in the kitchen and Christmas, or rather Easter, beds in a couple of the bedrooms for leftover children. Afterwards when we returned to ‘normal’ our house felt simply huge and empty and a bit too quiet with just the six of us.

That’s our Christmas bed pictured above but so named for a slightly different reason. Sometime way back, just before Christmas, my husband and I came to a decision about the nocturnal habits of our children. Either we keep taking them back to their own beds when they appear at our bedside after midnight complaining of illness/nightmares etc. Or we let them into ours. I know there are parents who have boundless energy and discipline in the middle of the night and are capable of calmly accompanying their children back to their own bedrooms uttering soothing platitudes. On the other hand there are also parents who are so cross at night that their children know not to bother them. I do wonder about those kids though, if the parents don’t care about the bad dreams and sore tummies what are the kids meant to do with that?

Most of the time all I can manage is a drooly mumble into my pillow and a bracing of myself for the clambering body that squeezes in between the two of us. Sometimes I am able to say something along the lines of ‘If you’re feeling sick, please  don’t get in my bed BEFORE you’ve visited the bathroom’. Cleaning up diced carrots off the bedroom floor is no picnic late at night but it’s absolutely preferable to cleaning it off your pillow, duvet cover, duvet, mattress, clothes and hair.

So it being Christmas and all we thought what could a parent wish for more than the gift of sleep? We went off and bought ourselves a large bed, the biggest size they have here. It looks small in the picture above with six of us on it but it’s a SUPER king. (King sized in South Africa – they have a Queen size there which is equivalent to the Irish king size). We agreed that it makes sense when there’s an extra person in our bed, that the space left is slightly more spacious. “Hang on”, I hear you cry, “surely you don’t all sleep in that bed?” No we don’t, the teenager and preteen wouldn’t be caught dead. But our youngest two are nine and seven and still pop through on occasion.

Co-sleeping with one’s children is certainly not without its challenges. I think there must be a yoga position called ‘starfish’, it’s the one children adopt when sleeping in your bed. The other one is ‘Rugby Cross Bar’ – that’s the one when you and he are the uprights, one has your kid’s feet in their back and the other has their head. I have also come up with my very own American Indian name (remember ‘Wind in His Hair’ from Dances with Wolves?) mine is ‘Fist in my Face’ and I don’t love it. I wonder whether I would feel more rested if I had got up in the night and taken them back three or four times.

However I wouldn’t change it because I absolutely do love the snuggly warmth of their little body curled up next to mine. I like to feel they are close physically as eventually every aspect of them, their emotions, feelings and bodies will distance themselves from me, and although I know that’s good and normal, I still know I’m going to miss it when it ends.