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A Beginner's Guide to House Plants

Not only do house plants look lovely, but they also bring many health and wellbeing benefits. If you are new to house plants or don’t know where to start then read on. In this beginner's guide to house plants, we share some of the easiest to grow at home, the benefits of owning house plants, some top care tips, and which plants are best for pet owners.

Benefits of house plants

There have been numerous scientific studies done to highlight the benefits that houseplants can bring to improve our physical and mental health as well as our overall wellbeing. Some benefits include:

  • Reduced stress levels
  • Increased worker productivity (if plants are near your workspace)
  • Mood improvement
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced headaches and general fatigue
  • Hospital patients in rooms with plants reported less post-operative pain

These benefits are just some of the things we can gain from having more plants in our home. Not only do they brighten up a room, but they can also dramatically impact our mood.

Easy to Grow house plants

The great news is that the benefits discussed above are not restricted to specific plants. Regardless of the plant or size of your indoor space, adding a plant can be a great addition. If you are a beginner or struggle to find plants that you can keep alive, try with one of the following easy to grow house plants that are a great place to start:

  • Dragon Tree
  • Rubber plant
  • English Ivy
  • Boston Fern
  • Mother in law’s tongue
  • Fern Anum
  • Lady Palm
  • Snake Plants

Top Care Tips 

Once you have chosen your new plants, you will of course want to keep them looking healthy. This can feel like a challenge when you are not green-fingered, so hopefully, these top tips will help.

  • Start easy, as the list above shows, there are plenty of options for low maintenance plants. Some of these options are extremely hardy like Snake Plants and, even if you do not water them as much as you should, they are extremely difficult to kill. Just try not to over-water them. Do you always forget to water plants? Then opt for cacti or similarly, a succulent. They don’t need water often and also look fantastic.
  • Don’t be scared of watering schedules - people tend to avoid household plants if they don’t think they can keep up with the watering schedules. However, the main thing is to ensure the surface of the soil is slightly dry before you water again. This avoids over-saturating it. So feel the soil before you water to avoid overwatering.
  • Use a water dispenser- If you are still worried about forgetting to water your plants you can buy specific water dispensers. You fill them up and place them in your pot. They will slowly release water on their own - saving you the stress
  • Think about the position of the plant- Ensure you place your plants in the correct conditions for them to thrive. You can easily find out which plants are suited to low light levels and which can cope in direct sunlight. By doing a bit of research, you will be able to find the perfect plants for your space.
  • Control pests - Indoor plants can still be infested by pests. If you notice any insects on your plants, remove them straight away. If there are a lot, mix warm water with a small amount of liquid soap and spray the plant. Then wipe with a damp cloth
  • Choose the right pot - Always choose pots with sufficient drainage. Where possible, leave the plant in the pot that it came in and place this in a decorative pot. There is no need to replant directly into the nicer pot. Choose a decorative pot that is slightly bigger than the original plant pot. This will ensure it fits nicely and has enough room to remove for watering.
  • If you are low on space there are still options for you to include some house plants. Dry placing them on shelves, on top of bookcases, or even hanging from the ceiling.

Pet safe plants

A lot of people are put off indoor plants if they are pet owners as many plants are toxic to animals and this can obviously be a concern. However, there are still plenty of plants out there that are not harmful to your pets. Here are a few indoor plants safe for cats and dogs

  • Rattlesnake plant
  • Spider Plant
  • Parlour Palm
  • African Violet
  • Venus Flytrap
  • Boston Fern
  • Orchid
  • Areca Palm
  • Herbs
  • Prayer Plant
  • Friendship Plant

House plants are becoming increasingly popular and it is clear to see why. Not only do they look great, but they also bring colour to your room, hey purifying the air and are proven to provide a wide range of physical and mental health benefits. Even if you have a bad track record of looking after plants, there are options out there for you. Hopefully, this guide to household plants has inspired you to get started and grow your house plant collection. 

 

Top Tips for Spring Cleaning

Spring is upon us which means it's time to start thinking about spring cleaning. Now more than ever, it is important that you keep your home clean, and what better way to ensure that your home is thoroughly clean than with a deep spring clean.

Spring cleaning can feel like a daunting task, so we have put together some tips and tricks to help get you started. Follow our spring cleaning tips and tricks below for a healthy and clean home for you and your family.

Make A Schedule

Before getting started, you should scope out your home and prioritise which room needs to be done first and create a schedule. Planning out what you are going to do before you do it and following it can help keep you focused on the task at hand and make sure you do not miss anywhere.

De-Clutter

Did you know that having a disorganised or untidy home can add to your stress levels? Before cleaning, make sure you tidy up and move any obstructions out of the way to make sure you can clean thoroughly and efficiently.

Clean Room by Room

Working your way around the house cleaning room by room is the most effective way of ensuring that you give it a deep clean. Focusing on one room at a time will allow you to see the results and give you the encouragement to carry on to the next one.

Share the Load

Get other people in your household involved to help get the cleaning done quicker. Even young children can lend a helping hand and you could offer an incentive to get chores done.

Listen to Music

Listening to music, or a podcast or audiobook, while getting the cleaning done can make it seem a little less dull and it will feel like it goes a lot quicker.

Minimise Cleaning Products

Try to use cleaning products that you already have, which may help clear up space in your cupboards, rather than adding to the clutter by buying more.

If you do need to buy new cleaning products, only buy what you need. We recommend opting for a good all-purpose cleaner and some microfibre cloths as these can be used for a variety of surfaces in your home.

Clean Regularly

After you have finished your spring cleaning, it is important to then keep it up. Once you have done all the hard work, it should be easy to stay on top of it. Little and often cleaning, even just 10 to 15 minutes per day of tidying and cleaning, will help to keep your home clean.

Hire A Cleaner

Your free time is valuable, and you may not want to spend it cleaning your home. If you feel like you could do with some professional help in cleaning your home, you could hire a domestic cleaner.

Time For You specialises in providing properly screened and vetted domestic cleaners to private households to provide you, our client, with more time for you.

As the client, you determine what tasks are carried out, but typical cleaning duties include vacuuming, dusting, washing down paintwork, cleaning toilets and bathrooms, and ironing. Click here and simply enter your postcode to find a cleaner near you so that we can take care of the cleaning so you don’t have to.

A Beginner's Guide to Yoga

When it comes to Yoga, it can be slightly intimidating and challenging to know exactly where to start. With many different types of yoga from Ashtanga to Zen, it can feel slightly overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to be. The benefits of yoga are plentiful and great for overall wellbeing. Here is our beginner’s guide to yoga to help you get started.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient form of Ayurvedic exercise, steeped in history, involving a series of movements that are specifically designed to build strength and increase flexibility. The aim is to integrate the mind, body, and spirit to feel a sense of oneness. The practice of Yoga originated over 5000 years ago in India, and over time has evolved into many schools and practices, and is now performed in schools, medical facilities, gyms, leisure centres, and more.

What types of yoga are there?

While there are countless types of Yoga, it is a deeply personal practice and has been adapted in many ways depending on the goal. Each style is a little bit different and will vary depending on the teacher. Whether you fancy something to stretch the body or expand the mind or are looking for a more relaxing class, there is a type of yoga out there for you.

You may want to try a few different types before you find one that suits you and your ability best.

Here are some of the most common and popular types of yoga

Vinyasa Yoga- Vinyasa means “to place in a special way” and is considered one of the most athletic types of yoga. The movement is coordinated with your breath and movement to flow from one pose to another.

Hatha Yoga- Hatha is an umbrella term for all physical postures of yoga. Hatha yoga classes can be a great option for beginners as they are usually slower-paced, making them a great entry point.

Ashtanga Yoga - in Sanskrit, Ashtanga translates to “Eight limb path” It involves quite physically demanding sequences of posture, making it something more suited for those of advanced ability.

Bikram Yoga- Includes a set of poses in a sauna-like room which typically has a temperature of 40% humidity. Hot yoga is becoming more popular and is beneficial for many reasons, however, this may not be the best choice for beginners due to how strenuous it can be.

So, which is best for beginners? If you are currently quite inflexible and a bit out of shape, you should start with gentle practices until you have built up some strength. Once you have done this, you should be able to start Hatha yoga classes. After you have become familiar with the basic postures, you may want to move onto Vinyasa classes. Ashtanga and Bikram should be avoided at the beginning until you have built up sufficient strength and knowledge of yoga poses.

Is yoga right for me?

One of the best things about yoga is the fact that virtually anyone can do yoga in some form, regardless of their weight, fitness level, or age. The inclusivity of yoga is just one of the benefits of this exercise. Whilst you may still be able to do certain yoga postures if you have a medical condition or injury, yoga can be challenging or even dangerous; so ensure you receive professional medical advice before starting. There are usually ways to adapt and modify the exercise to ensure you are doing it safely which a professional will be able to talk you through.

It is important to remember that although some of the exercises and strength can be intense, you should never feel pain whilst doing a yoga pose. If you feel a strong pain this is your body telling you to stop and take it easy.

What do you need?

To start practicing yoga you don’t need a huge amount of equipment. Grab a yoga mat that has sufficient grip and ensure you are wearing comfy, preferably loose-fitting clothes as this can help allow yourself to move freely from one pose to another. Whilst some classes may require additional props such as blocks, straps, and blankets, you won't need these straight away, or can easily find a household substitute. Plus, if you go to a class, many instructors provide you with this equipment.

What are the benefits of yoga?

There are almost limitless benefits to yoga. Here are just a few:

• Reduces stress
• Promotes relaxation
• Boosts your immune system
• Help you lose weight and change your body shape
• Help heal aches
• Improve the quality of sleep
• Improve flexibility
• Prevent conditions such as diabetes and heart disease
• Improve balance and stability

Top Tips for yoga

Find a quality teacher- Whether this be an online class, video tutorial, or class at your local gym, it is important to discover a teacher that is experienced and that you like learning from.

Wear comfortable clothing

Don’t compare yourself to others- A journey of one thousand miles starts with a single step. Yoga is about your journey so there is no point comparing yourself to other people. People learn at their own pace and you may initially struggle with different poses.

Modify poses if necessary- If you are struggling with certain poses, don’t give up. Try and modify the pose to suit you. Over time you will improve at the poses but there is no point putting yourself at risk of hurting yourself.

Get a non-slip yoga mat- It is worth spending money on a quality mat that has grip. It will make the exercise so much easier.

Stay hydrated- Always have a bottle of water at hand and continue to drink plenty throughout the day.

Learn some breathing exercises- Breathing correctly is an essential part of yoga. It can help circulation and reduce stress.

Practice regularly- As with anything, the more you do something, the better you will become. Frequent short yoga sessions can have a major impact on your well-being.

As you can see there is a lot to yoga and this beginner’s guide to yoga merely scrapes the service. This is an exercise that almost anyone can enjoy and reap the benefits of. The first thing you must do is start with some gentle stretches and once you have built up strength and confidence, you can continue building on your knowledge and improve over time.

 

How to refresh your home on a budget

Over time it can be easy to get bored of the way your home looks. Yet the prospect of having to completely redecorate or refurnish is both time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, it is not always a possibility. However, that doesn’t mean there is nothing that can be done. Here, we discuss how to refresh your home on a budget.

Change your cushions and duvet covers

Start with something simple like changing your sofa cushions or changing your bedding. This may seem like a small change but it can make a huge difference. Swapping your sofa cushions for a different style can help add different textures and colours into the room. The bedding has the same effect. If you feel like your current bedding is drab and dull, why not go bold and go for something bright or with an amazing pattern on it? The best things about changing your soft furnishings are that they are inexpensive and are an instant change. If you don’t like how the end result looks, you can quickly change it.

Buy a new rug

Following the theme of really quick changes, why not consider buying a new rug or swapping your old one? Rugs can transform the look of a room and help make it feel a lot cosier. With a range of materials, colours, shapes, designs and sizes, there are rugs to suit any room.

Create a statement wall

If you want to add colour to your walls but don’t fancy having to paint an entire room, simply opt for a statement wall. Whether you want it to be a block of colour or a pretty wallpaper, the options are almost endless and the results can be stunning. If you want to change the colour of the wall, it will be easier to paint just one wall and means you can keep it looking fresh.

Create a gallery wall

If you don’t fancy changing the colour of the walls, you can still transform them by creating a gallery wall. Choose your favourite photos and get them printed and framed. You can opt for all the same size for a grid effect. Alternatively, you can choose a range of sized prints and photos for a gallery wall that will make an amazing impact.

Add shelves

Again, if you don’t want to change the colour of your walls, you can add some floating shelves or picture shelves to add a focal point and make the walls look more interesting. Use them to store books, frames, ornaments, house plants and more - whatever you have that you want on display. Once you feel like you need a refresh, quickly change them around for a completely new look.

Change curtains

Similar to your duvet cover and cushions, your curtains are another easy way to transform a room. Go for a different colour or material and you will quickly notice a difference. If you want to go one step further why not get rid of the curtains completely and choose blinds instead? They can make the room look completely different and are relatively low cost.

Go green

Try adding houseplants to your room to make it feel fresh and add a pop of green. Worried you will just kill them immediately? You can now buy a range of faux plants that look so realistic no-one will ever be able to tell.

All of these changes can make a huge impact and transform the feel of the room without you having to spend obscene amounts of money. Doing some, if not all of the tips on this list can make your home feel completely different. The best news is that these changes do not have to be daunting or need a lot of specialist skills to complete. Plus, many of these can even be used for people who are renting and therefore feel like they cannot make any changes to their home.

Secret uses for olive oil around the home

Olive oil has been known to be a great addition to the kitchen, but cooking is not the only use. Here we discuss the secret uses for olive oil for cleaning and beauty that will convince you that olive oil should be a staple item in your home.

Home
Protect wooden cutting boards
Place a thin layer of olive oil onto your wooden kitchen utensils and chopping boards. Leave it to soak into the wood for 5 minutes and then buff using a soft cloth. This treatment can help prevent cracking and discolouration so you can get the most use out of your utensils.

Slow down tarnishing
Whilst olive oil cannot stop tarnishing happening entirely, it can help slow down the process. Place a small amount on a cloth and then rub onto silver. It slows down the oxidation process and can help keep your silver shiny.

Remove sticky labels
It can be frustrating when you buy something from the shop and you struggle to get the label off, meaning you are left with a sticky patch. Add some olive oil and leave for 15 minutes. This will help make it easier to remove the rest of the label.

Fix squeaky hinges
Add a few drops of olive oil to a squeaky hinge. It should help remove the annoying sound.

Shine shoes
Add a small amount of olive oil onto your shoes with a soft cloth to help keep them shiny. Just ensure you are careful you do not apply to sued or other sensitive materials.

Razor blades
Help make razor blades last longer by adding olive oil. It can help prevent rust occurring. Just ensure you dry the blades off thoroughly before you use them.

Beauty
Hair Treatment
Hair masks are growing in popularity, but did you know you could swap out these fancy hair products for something much simpler like olive oil? Warm the olive oil slightly by using the microwave and apply generously into the ends of the hair as well as the scalp. Leave it to soak into your hair for 10 to 15 minutes before you shampoo and wash it out.

Eye Makeup Remover
It may seem counter-intuitive to add oil to your face, however olive oil sticks onto other oil-based products so it can help remove stubborn makeup, especially eye makeup. Use this as a step in your beauty routine to make sure your makeup is completely removed.

Help combat ear wax
If you are prone to getting build ups of ear wax try using olive oil. Place a few drops of oil into your ear each night for a few consecutive nights. This helps to loosen any excess wax and is a great alternative to shop-bought remedies.

Heal skin
If you suffer from eczema or cracked heels, try using olive oil. Its sensitive on your skin and helps provide moisture. Once you have treated your feet with a pumice stone, apply olive oil and place socks on for an effective overnight treatment.

Lip Scrub
Add olive oil to some sugar to create your own sugar lip scrub. Add a splash of lemon juice for added flavour if you wish. The scrub is exfoliating and moisturising that can help combat chapped lips.

Clean makeup brushes
Create your own DIY makeup brush cleaner by adding olive oil to double the amount of antibacterial soap. Try and do this at least once a month to keep your brushes clean and last longer.

These are just some of the ways you can use olive oil across your home for cleaning and beauty. Although this list is not extensive, it shows you how versatile this ingredient is and should be at the top of your shopping list.

Advice for areas with Local or National restrictions

We are continuing to work safely and in line with current Government guidance. 

There are currently no restrictions in place, Nationally or at Local level that restrict cleaning services within private households.

 

Time For You remains committed to providing it’s services and cleaners to households in a safe manner and with effective guidance to help ensure the health and safety of its clients and cleaners.

 

Please see the links below to the advice for all the Nations of the UK

  • For England  

    From the 5th January, England will enter a national lockdown across the country and some businesses will be forced to close. The government has issued advice on the matter and made it clear that where you cannot work from home, including work in other peoples homes you will still be permitted to work as long as the government guidelines on social distancing and staying safe are followed. 

    'Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople - you can do so.

    Source: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home#going-to-work

 

  • For Scotland 

    The Scottish Government has moved the country from Level 4 restrictions into a Temporary Lockdown and this comes into effect on the 5th January. As with the Level 4 restrictions, Tradespeople must only enter homes to carry out work if that work is deemed essential ('to carry out repairs and maintenance that would otherwise threaten the household’s health and safety'). 

    Please See: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/

  • For Wales

    Wales has Level 4 restrictions in place across the country. The Welsh government has stated that tradespeople are still permitted to work inside homes, which includes domestic cleaners - as long as the work is managed in a safe way and both the cleaner and household members are well and have no symptoms of coronavirus. 

    Please see: https://gov.wales/visiting-people-private-homes-alert-level-4

  • For Northern Ireland 

    Northern Ireland is currently in a 6 week lockdown period that started effective of 26th December 2020.  

    The government has not made any changes regarding work being carried out within homes (other than close contact services). Domestic cleaners are still permitted in homes - as long as the government guidelines on social distancing and staying safe are followed.

    'Unless they are specifically required to close under the regulations, workers, builders, tradespeople and other professionals can continue to go into people’s houses to carry out work such as repairs, installations and deliveries.'

    Please See: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you

 

What Are We Doing?

Earlier in the year we issued our ‘StaySafe In Homes’ guidance, we would ask all our existing and new clients and cleaners to adhere to when cleaning services are taking place. These are some simple guidelines to ensure that every possible care is taken and to minimise the risk to our clients and our cleaners and that services can continue.

Households or Individuals That Are Self-Isolating

Under no circumstances should any work be carried out in a home where people are self-isolating or showing any Coronavirus like symptoms.

Social Distancing

We advise that social distancing must be maintained when working in properties and to stay in separate rooms where possible.

Face Coverings

Face covering in homes are not mandatory, however where social distancing is an issue it is recommended. In most cases this is down to personal preference of our clients and/or cleaners.

Hand Washing

It is recommended that cleaners wash (or hand sanitise) their hands on arrival and at regular intervals throughout the time that they are working in homes. 

The Home, Equipment & Products

To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, we ask that all products are supplied by and kept by the householders and recommend the supply of anti-bacterial and disinfectant products where possible. That all re-usable items such as cloths are cleaned at high temperatures or with anti-bacterial products where possible. Any disposable items should be disposed of correctly and in leak proof bags. Areas in the home where cleaning is being undertaken are to be kept well ventilated

Non-Contact

Where possible it is recommended that all communication, entry and payments are made on a non-contact basis. 

For this and more information on our ‘StaySafe In Homes’ Guidance please see the link here: https://timeforyou.cleaning/uk/articles/post/staysafe-in-homes

STAYSAFE In Homes

STAYSAFE In Homes – Guidance For Continuing Services 

 

In line with the Governments advice, we have put together some practical steps to help ensure the safety of our clients and cleaners and highly recommend these are implemented when work is being carried out.

 

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should work be carried out in a home where any of the householders are showing even mild symptoms. No work should be carried out by a cleaner who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild, or when someone in their own household has symptoms. No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded.

 

  • CLEANING REQUIREMENTS: These should be discussed over the phone or via SMS prior to the visit, this is to ensure that upon entry to a property people can remain a safe distance from each other.

 

  • ENTRY TO THE PROPERTY: We recommend that ENTRY to the property is arranged for a specific time and that arrangements are made to ensure people do not come into contact with each other and by maintaining a minimum 2m distance apart.

 

  • STAY IN SEPARATE ROOMS: When work is being carried out, people must remain in different rooms or at least 2m apart as a minimum.

 

  • WASHING HANDS: All persons in the household and people carrying out work should wash their hands before, during and after work being carried out. Particularly on high-touch areas. This is also applicable when moving from room to room while working. Hand-Sanitiser is an acceptable alternative if hands washing facilities are not easily available.

 

  • EQUIPMENT/PRODUCTS: Adequate equipment should be available/provided/used when work is being carried out in homes. Disinfectant and Anti-Bacterial products should be used as much as possible and where applicable and all equipment should be cleaned and dis-infected prior to use.

 

  • RUBBISH: Any rubbish/disposable items should be put into leak proof bags and disposed of by the person handling the bag in the bin with little/no contact from any other person.

 

  • RE-USABLE ITEMS: Any items that are re-usable should be washed at 90.c where appropriate and handled as little as possible prior to storage ready for use.

 

  • VENTILATION: It is advised that windows and doors are left open to ensure that properties are well ventilated should work be carried out.

 

  • POST CLEAN: The client and cleaner should discuss (over the phone or via) the work that was carried out, what were high-touch areas that may need further disinfecting and also proceed with cashless payment methods.

Top Tips to get ahead of Christmas Planning

It is never too early to get ahead of your Christmas planning. Although you may think it’s too soon to think about next Christmas, it can actually save you a lot of money, stress and time by thinking ahead. Here are some of our top tips get ahead of Christmas planning for next year.

Pack Christmas lights away with care

It is never fun to get you Christmas decorations out and have to spend hours painfully trying to untangle your Christmas lights. When you remove them from your tree take the time to lay them out carefully. You can buy specific tree light reel holders for your lights. Alternatively, you can simply use a piece of thick cardboard to wrap them around. You will be extremely grateful that you have done this when next Christmas comes around.

Update your address book

People often use Christmas cards as a great way of sharing their new address. Make a note of any of these changes and ensure you update your address book. If you want to be even more organised, you can always have a Christmas card list ready in your address book, on your phone or on a spreadsheet. Writing Christmas cards can sometimes be tedious, so this can help reduce the time it takes for you to complete the card-writing session.

Recycle Christmas cards

Wherever possible, recycle your Christmas cards. Check to see if you can recycle them first. Even better, you can cut out the front of any cards that have a lovely design on them and turn them into Christmas tags for next year.

Take stock of your decorations

When you’re packing away your decorations make a list of what you have. Get rid of any broken decorations and baubles and use the list to keep track of your decorations, leftover wrapping, Christmas crackers, Christmas cards and more. This will ensure you don’t buy any replicas during the year because you simply couldn’t remember what you already had. Consider storing the decorations in clear boxes so that you can easily locate everything next year.

Book Christmas plans early

Wanting to go away next Christmas? Many people do not like to plan too far ahead but when it comes to Christmas you should as the earlier you book, the more likely you are to get the hotel/holiday home that you are after. Although you can often get some amazing last-minute deals for smaller properties, if you are after something larger or in a specific popular location you may end up disappointed.

Plan your crafts

Crafting your own presents can save you a bit of money and are often much more thoughtful and personal. The reason why a lot of people do not opt for homemade options is that they don’t think they have enough time. If you plan in advance throughout the year this will not be a problem. Decide early on in the year any ideas that you have. Then ensure you dedicate a certain amount of time each month to these projects. Not only will you benefit from this organisation when Christmas comes along, but you also will not be stressed about what to buy for people and crafting is a great pastime that can be calming and a lot of fun.

Start saving

Christmas can come round extremely quickly which can be a financial strain for many. Saving from the beginning of the year is a great way to help spread the cost of Christmas without going into debt or relying on credit cards. Set yourself a budget each month and ideally transfer this amount into a separate savings account.

Make the most of January and Summer sales

The January sales are a great chance to grab some great deals on festive items so use this as an opportunity to stock up on wrapping paper, decorations and more. Also, make the most out of the sales throughout the year. By planning a bit in advance, you can make the most out of the great deals. Just make sure you have a rough plan of what you want to buy, otherwise, you could end up wasting a lot of money on items you do not need.

Plan Christmas meals

Bored with the standard turkey you have every year? Try searching for new meal ideas throughout the year. Doing this in advance gives you plenty of time to search for interesting new dishes and also gives you enough time to practice and perfect the recipes before the day itself. Use this time to also ensure you have enough tableware, cutlery and serving dishes for all the recipes you want to make.

Create a Christmas planner

The key to organising Christmas in advance is to stay on track. Using a Christmas planner can help you keep everything in one place. From Christmas card lists, recipes, Christmas gift lists, budget and more.

Christmas planning can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. These are just a few ways to get ahead of Christmas planning. Making the most of sales throughout the year can help you grab some bargains, save some money, allow you to be creative and avoid any last-minute rush.

 

Wacky cleaning tips that WORK!

Housework isn’t everybody’s cup of tea (which is why we recommend getting a cleaner!), but it doesn’t have to be dull! Sometimes we just need to inject a big dose of fun into what can be seen as the mundane.

 

Have a chuckle with these off-beat cleaning tips that do actually get the job done surprisingly well! 

  • Retire the duster and use a lint roller EVERYWHERE! Run it over lampshades, windowsills, sofas - in fact anywhere dusty. The stickiness holds onto the dust and stops it wafting into the air - this could save on vacuuming, too!
  • We love our pets, right? Not so much their fuzz being everywhere! A great way to remove pet hair off fabric sofas (even a nice wool coat or the car!) is with a wet rubber glove. Seriously! Stick on a wet rubber glove, wipe your hand over all the surfaces, and be dazzled. It magically becomes a pet-hair magnet!
  • Use a tumble dryer sheet to clean troublesome pots that would take some heavy duty scrubbing to get clean. Soak a non-toxic dryer sheet in a dirty pan/dish with some hot water to remove any baked-on foods. This even works with a fondue pan!
  • Another tip for the fondue pan - filthy with cold, welded-on cheese - is to fill the fondue pan with hot water and dissolve a dishwasher tablet in there. Leave overnight. The enzymes dissolve the seemingly impossible to clean-off cheese. Voila!
  • Get perfectly streak-free windows by mixing up a cleaning solution that’s made up of one part vinegar and four parts water and then buffing with coffee filters. No fibre shedding = no streaks!
  • Give your mattress a glow up with vodka! In a spray bottle, mix a shot of voddie with some water and a few drops of your preferred essential oil. Spray onto your mattress and let it dry. The alcohol in the vodka kills any whiffy bacteria buried deep within (and let’s them go out with a bit of a party vibe)!
  • Pass the mayo! Mayonnaise is a bit of an unexpected wonder cleaning product: to remove dreaded water marks from wooden surfaces, wipe a bit of mayo along the surface with a damp cloth.Works eggy wonders!
  • Households with children, listen up! A super simple, but effective, way of removing grubby fingerprints off walls is to rub lightly with moistened, stale white bread. Try it! Don’t have a piece of bread? A spot of baby oil on a cloth can perform the same fingerprint-removing feat.
  • Wooden floors are precious and can be fragile. A scratch can wound. What to do? Buff over the scratch with a walnut to make marks vanish (the oils in the nut smooth out the damage and fill the crack).
  • Want a microwave makeover? Place a bowl of water, with a heavy splash of vinegar, into the microwave and set spinning for 5 minutes. The vinegary steam, literally, dissolves grease and your microwave will look sparkling with the lightest wipe of a cloth.

 

Who said cleaning wasn’t entertaining?! If we can help you inject more fun into your domestic cleaning, please contact us here.

7 Ways to cut the cost of Christmas

Christmas can be tough on our bank accounts and it is often at this time of year that we feel under financial pressure. Whilst it is inevitably going to be slightly more expensive this time of year, many things can be done to help you budget. Here are seven ways to cut the cost of Christmas.

Set your budget early

Before you get overwhelmed with Christmas shopping, sit down and budget how much you can actually afford to spend. Although you can, of course, use credit cards, ideally, avoid depending on them as this can lead to you spending way more than you initially intended and means you start the next year potentially in a lot of debt. Don’t just consider the budget for Christmas presents; you need to consider all the other costs associated with Christmas such as travel expenses, gift wrapping, decorations, and festive food to name just a few. Separate your budget into categories and work out the maximum you can spend.

The further in advance you sit down and budget, the more you are in control of your finances and have confidence that you know how much you can spend and on what. This also means you have longer to search for good deals.

Go homemade

Homemade gifts are always a great option for Christmas. They show your loved ones that you have put lots of thought into the gift and they are often one of a kind and can even be personalised. Whilst not all homemade gifts are necessarily cheaper as the materials can be costly, some gifts can help save you some pennies. For example, if you decide to make candles for a lot of your friends and family, the cost overall will probably be cheaper than buying them all from a shop, and they are fun to make.

Homemade gifts can also help you spread the cost of Christmas. If you are struggling to find something to buy for a loved one, why not consider a voucher instead? For example, a voucher to go for a nice meal in the new year, or a book of vouchers that they can redeem throughout the year for help in the garden, washing their car, babysitting for them, etc. Some of these gifts will only cost you time and even those that involve money will mean you don’t have to pay until the voucher is redeemed - a great way to spread the cost without jeopardising the quality of the present.

Start a Secret Santa

Secret Santas have been going for decades and there's a reason for this. Not only can they be really fun, but they are also a great way to save money. Instead of buying all your colleagues, friends, or even family presents, ask them if they would like to do a Secret Santa instead. This can save a considerable amount of money. Once people have agreed, ensure you set a budget so that no one misses out. To add an additional challenge to the task you can even set a theme such as can only be something homemade or only something they have bought from a charity shop.

Split the cost of Christmas dinner

It is surprising how much the cost of a Christmas dinner can be, especially if you have a larger family. People often have three courses and a selection of alcohol and snacks which can all quickly add up. To help combat this, discuss with your guests in advance if they wouldn’t mind contributing. They don’t necessarily have to give you money, they could perhaps each bring an item or dish with them. Just make sure you coordinate so they don’t all end up bringing the same food.

Send ecards

Not only are ecards more eco friendly, but you can also send them really quickly without having to spend hours writing up addresses. You also save the money you would usually spend on posting them all.

Shop smarter in supermarkets

There are plenty of tips and tricks that can help you shop savvy in supermarkets. Try going later on in the day as you will be more likely to find a bargain as this is when the food is marked down. Buy things that you know you can freeze in advance and place them in the freezer until you need them. There are so many dishes that you can even prepare in advance and keep frozen until Christmas such as a handmade soup for starters or the vegetable dishes. Not only can this save you money, but it will also save you time on the day as you will have less work to do.
Also, try not to be too driven by brands. A lot of the items are of the same level of quality but many people are only swayed by the name. If you focus more on the product itself rather than just its brand, you can save a significant amount of money on your Christmas shop.

Sell unwanted items ahead of Christmas

Make space in your home before Christmas by selling anything you no longer need. Autumn is the best time to do this as it will leave you with more storage in your home but the money raised can go towards your Christmas budget. Win-win.
Not only can all of these help you save money, but they can also help reduce the waste you create during the festive period. The key is to plan in advance as this helps you control your finances tightly, gives you time to shop for the best deals, and means you can avoid the last-minute panic buys and stress that usually happens in December.