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  • It’s time to swap quantity for quality

    It always amazes me that just when Christmas is over and you realise how much money you’ve spent on cards, presents, decorations and food the New Year sales come along. It’s hard not to be seduced by all those huge discounts – but, really, do we actually need more stuff?  Is it time to buy less and choose well?

    Don’t get me wrong – I love a bargain as much as the next person. If I spot something I’ve got on my list to buy and it’s reduced in price that’s a real bonus. But I’m not into buying things I don’t really want or need just because they’re on sale.

    I hate that over-buying contributes to so much waste. As you’ll have read in my last blog, I only ever give my children three Christmas presents (it’s sort of a French thing!) and hopefully they like them as much as they tell me they do. But according to one report, around 50% of Christmas gifts get binned within a year. Even more troubling, a survey last year found that one in ten unwanted Christmas presents will probably end up in landfill. That’s really bad news for our planet.

    Like a lot of people, I try to be eco-friendly and it’s certainly a big part of Tidy Books. I’ve never been interested in designing trendy products that quickly go out of fashion and are then disposed of to make room for the newest model. I recently had a customer who told me she’d had her Tidy Books bookcase for 15 years and that made me really happy. I love that my company makes timeless, well-made products that will never look dated or need to be replaced, so that our customers can buy less. Their longevity means they can be passed down to younger siblings, not thrown on the scrap heap.

    “We still have our original Tidy Books - now at least 15 years old and only slightly the worse for wear having survived x 2 owners and x 2 long distance house moves!” Alison, one of the first Tidy Books customers

    The Tidy Books personalised bookcase. Photo credit Les Enfants a Paris

    I take the same eco approach to manufacturing . Everything in the Tidy Books range is made with sustainable, FSC-certified wood and doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals.

    As a consumer myself, I’m careful about what I buy. It’s not that I forced myself to become a conscious shopper – it’s simply that once I understood how buying too much or buying the wrong things can affect the planet I lost my desire to over-consume. It really wasn’t difficult to shake off that ‘Buy, Buy, buy’ mentality, I just naturally started to shop differently, and I can buy less without worry.

    I think that when I buy less and choose better has made me a calmer, happier consumer. So, if you do spot me in the New Year sales, I’ll be the serene shopper looking for quality, not quantity – but, of course, still holding out for a bargain!

  • When less is more at Christmas

    I remember one of my first Christmas Days in England. We were at my sister-in-law’s house and I couldn’t believe the amount of gifts her young daughter was getting. She’d unwrap a present, throw the paper to one side, open another present, throw the paper... and on and on until she’d got through about a dozen presents.

    Coming from France, this was completely alien to me. When I was growing up, I’d receive one main Christmas present – a doll perhaps – and a couple of little things to go with it. This wasn’t just my experience – other French kids got pretty much the same deal. That’s because in France children only receive gifts from Santa Claus. So there was never any issue with relatives struggling to find bigger, better, pricier presents – it was all down to Father Christmas!

    Unlike France, it seems that families in the UK are under huge pressure to buy kids’ Christmas presents. Recently it was announced that British children under the age of 12 will receive on average 11 toys for Christmas this year. The money saving expert Martin Lewis believes that young children ‘want what they want – whether it costs £2 or £200’ but that many parents can’t stop at one small present because they feel guilty that they’re not spending enough on their kids.

    It’s tough when you’re bombarded with messages about ‘must-have toys’. And it can be particularly difficult for relatives who live far away and want to show their love through a big gift. One solution could be for everyone in the family – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles – to club together to buy one special present. Something that’s not this year’s fad but a gift that’s thoughtful and memorable – and will last beyond Boxing Day.

    christmas, christmas gifts, bookcase, reading, books Dive into reading this Holiday

    Of course here at Tidy Books that’s something we firmly believe in. We make products that your kids can get years of enjoyment out of and that they can continue to use as they grow. And our products don’t need batteries either!

    I absolutely love giving gifts at Christmas – and after all these years I still believe that less is more. Don’t tell my teens, but this year, like every year, they’ll only find three gifts under the Christmas tree!

    What will your children find under the tree this Christmas?

  • Why writing a journal is great for kids

    Wondering what to put in the kids’ Holiday stocking this year? Well the National Literacy Trust is encouraging everyone to buy a  journal or a diary as a gift. They believe writing a journal is a great way for children to explore language, express themselves and build emotional resilience.

    With daily writing, children can practise their handwriting outside of school. And according to one report, schoolchildren who kept a journal were nearly twice as likely to write above the expected level for their age as those who didn’t.

    The beauty of a journal is that kids can write about whatever they like. It might be what they’ve done that day, how they’re feeling or their hopes and fears. This, say the NLT, gives children the chance to build emotional resilience because writing things down lets them process their thoughts and express their feelings.

    Writing thoughts down is pretty handy for adults too. I have a personal notebook that I write in every evening. It’s somewhere for me to unload or reflect on what I’m immensely grateful for.

    " Journal or diary writing is a brilliant idea for children, because it helps them organise their thoughts and express themselves. "

    Sue Townsend, author of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole

    When it comes to your kids, they may need a bit of encouraging – otherwise it might feel like another task they have to do rather than something they can enjoy. A handy tip is to read your children a book where the main character keeps a diary – like Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. Younger kids could be encouraged to start a diary by using pictures instead of words, or writing with colourful pens and pencils.

    bunk bed buddy, diary, tidy books, bunk bed storage, book shelf, journal Perfect place for a journal: the Tidy Books Bunk Bed Buddy. Photo credit: Would Like to be a Yummy Mummy  www.wouldliketobeayummymummy.com

    Of course a diary is personal so it’s always handy to have a secret place to keep it away from prying eyes. I love the idea of a child scribbling away in their diary then hiding it behind their favourite things on their Bunk Bed Buddy . Their diary is safe in their own little territory – and it’s close at hand whenever they want to write in it.

    And who knows – one day that diary might become a best-selling book!

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