I’m trying really hard to live within my means at the moment (and mostly failing miserably) but it did get me thinking about my actual favourite things. And apart from my family, they probably fall into a few categories; sentimental, luxe, and things that just make me inexplicably happy.
Photographs, kids artwork, some babygros, first shoes, first ballet shoes – I’ve got them all – yes I’m guilty of a terrible hoarding habit, but for all the tidy up your life books out there, they can all do one – this stuff is staying. Then there are the obvious ones, my wedding ring and an Alex Monroe necklace in the shape of a peapod which is my talisman, bought because our kids are all peas in a pod.
Getting past those things though, if there was an actual emergency the luxe stuff wouldn’t make the cut. That’s what insurance is for. It would be all about the photos and the aforementioned.
Which brings me to the third category, things which make me inexplicably happy, and that are cheap as chips. First up, the plastic beaded friendship bracelet made for me by my daughter. I’m actually trying to find a jeweller who will string it exactly as it is (upside down Y in mummy and all) onto a chain as I’m so worried the elastic will perish and snap one day. I guess that could fall into the sentimental category.
But who hasn’t loved a bit of a splurge in Tiger? That skandi shop of utter delight that has sprung up on our British shores in recent years. Party wigs, party specs, feather boas, pens in the shape of a moustache, glasses wipes, bike horns, bendy straws – you name it – much of it utter nonsense, stacked high and dirt cheap. It’s a pocket money heaven for the kids and never fails to put a smile on everyone’s face after a visit. Those plastic pinned things that you can leave an impression on (what do you even call those things?) entertained not just our family, but the one next to us when we went for lunch, all for two of your great British pounds.
Other cheapness which I love; H&M Home Ware, so affordable it can give you a joyous burst of new life and colour with a quick cushion change or table cloth. Most of the range is in the H&M Conscience range too, so either made from recycled material or reliably sourced (which is where I have some difficulty with the cheap end of the high street, I can’t get past the sweat shop conditions many are guilty of). Ditto a quick Ikea update to sit alongside the vintage, high end and preloved that makes up the rest of my home. These things make me happy.
As does the cactus that cost 50p popped into an upcycled Golden Syrup tin, days on the beach with a picnic and cheap wine, homemade cards by the kids (or others); banana bread made by my sister-in -law for a walk in the woods, that we scoff in the carpark while rain pours down outside, everyone laughing and gossiping waiting for it to stop. A new book, fresh stationery, new socks, cheap biscuits (I give you custard creams and gingernuts) – all bring inexplicably disproportionate joy.
I feel I should say here, just to be clear – moments and experiences, such as family gatherings, kids school sports days and concerts, times laughing with friends or just mooching with my loved ones, are far more important, but that’s a whole other post.
These are a few of my favourite things. Most of them giving you at least change from a fiver. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still massively partial to a bit of high end luxe. But for a cheery, non-heart-attack-inducing update or fun activity, sometimes, cheap really is the most cheerful.
Let me know what’s your pick-me-up or inexpensive giver of joy.