News & Articles

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.

Join Our Free Time Liberation Movement!

Our free time is precious but do we really know how precious? Do we really know its worth? So many of us spread ourselves so thinly, trying to juggle our professional and personal lives - often wishing that there was something we could do to make it easier, or less stressful. We all value our free time - but how can we make the most if it? If only there was a free time liberation movement to join! ;)

 

Outsource the outsourceable 

Many business books and gurus offer a very simple piece of advice: outsource the stuff that is easy to pass to somebody else (which they’re, possibly, better at too) and concentrate on the things that you’re good at/bring in the money. Or the things that give you satisfaction, if money isn’t the main motivator! How many of us actually do this? It’s pretty common to speak to a business owner, or professional person, and to hear how they’re spending way too much time on admin tasks and not enough time drumming up trade or selling their unique skill set. There’s an imbalance. Is a similar scenario playing out at home? 

If you’re spending your precious Saturday mornings miserably scrubbing the bath, or resentfully scraping Wednesday night’s spaghetti off the hob, you might need to rethink your strategy. (Note: Obviously, if these domestic tasks spark your joy, this possibly isn’t the blog post for you!)

 

No more loo scrubbing

 So many of us work hard all week and then feel dread at having to get the house into shape over the weekend, in order to start all over again. But what if you didn’t have to? What if you outsourced these tasks and hired a cleaner: a professional to knock our homes into shape because, well, that’s their skill set (and they’re so much better at it than us)?! Image the possibilities! A lovely clean house on a Friday night… No porcelain scrubbing of a Saturday morning… A shiny kitchen sink… It would be a dream come true, right? All that free time to enjoy doing the stuff you actually like doing.

 

Down with dusting!

But is this dream attainable? ABSOLUTELY!  And, the best bit, it’s not going to break the bank. If you value your free time, hiring a cleaner for £14 per hour is a steal! Having a cleaner is a liberation from domestic drudgery and offers you a chance to take back your precious free time - without the need to write it on a placard, storm the streets in protest, chanting: ‘DOWN WITH DUSTING!

 

It all depends on what value YOU place on your precious free time. For us here at Time For You, it’s a no-brainer! It’s the premise behind our whole enterprise: we’re in the business of creating time for you so you can enjoy your life.

 

If you’d like to join our free time liberation movement, and discover more about the cleaning service we offer, contact us here :)

A Woman’s Work… But is it?

A woman’s work is never done. There’s something horribly outdated about this expression but it still resonates with a lot of women - both those who work out of the home, and those who don’t. Often it feels like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done and the constant juggling is nothing short of exhausting. 

During recent months, when the nation was in total lockdown, several reports by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) were published demonstrating how the bulk of domestic responsibilities fell into the laps of women. Women, on the whole, undertook the majority of child-care, stocking the fridge and keeping the house in a liveable state… As well as doing their paid jobs from home.

 

“During lockdown women spent a far greater proportion of their time looking after children compared to men, with the difference amounting to over an hour and a quarter a day,” the ONS said in its analysis. “Although we found there was an equal division of time when it came to activities like home-schooling, and playing or reading with children, the difference came from women spending much more time on activities like feeding, washing and dressing children.”

 

As old-fashioned as it may sound or feel, and as much as we wish it weren’t the case, this old adage still has some life in it, it seems! Many women find it incredibly difficult to ask for help - or even struggle with how to phrase a request for assistance. Many of us suffer from ‘superwoman syndrome’, where we put ourselves under incredible pressure to be great at our jobs, be the best partner/parent, have a perfectly spotless home… But it’s really hard to maintain. Asking for help is not a weakness - it often a sign of strength.

 

How to go about it?

Opening the narrative about domestic duties with partners and other family members can often be hard - treading the line between requesting assistance and, what can be considered, nagging (hate that word!) can be tricky. But, the bottom line is, that it’s not solely the responsibility of the ‘woman of the household’ to keep everything ticking over. It’s all of the family’s responsibility and each person should chip in.

 

How could this look?

Start by providing all family members with a clear view of what’s expected of them. In my house, for example, we have the following expectations:

  1. The Bare Minimum. This really is the basics: not simply kicking your shoes off in the hall, making sure you hang up your coat and not leave it in a heap, keeping the loo clean, not stuffing empty crisp packets down the side of the sofa…
  2. The Middle Ground. This includes emptying the dishwasher, putting used plates/glasses in the dishwasher, wiping the kitchen tops, giving the bath a wipe, putting dirty clothes into the dark/colour hampers…
  3. The Extras (that will make Mum reeeaaallly happy!). This would include vacuuming the stairs, taking the laundry out of the tumbler dryer and then folding/putting away, cleaning the windows (OK, maybe this last one falls into the realms of fantasy!).

 

If everybody knows what’s expected of them, it becomes their responsibility. These expectations also need to be delivered in a calm way; I’ve found, from bitter experience, that the louder my voice, the less my children seem to hear me. Strange, isn't it?! ;)

Also, something else that works a treat in my house is ‘reinforcing positive actions’ or, as others might say, good old-fashioned bribery! I made a deal with my people that if the house was tidy (no random shoes/knickers/crisp packets knocking around), we’d get a cleaner in. And in doing this it would free up our weekends so we could focus on the fun stuff. It worked! The house is (mostly!) in a tidy enough state for our cleaner to do her job effectively, thus freeing up the weekend for us.

Feeling weighed down with domestic responsibility is not a joy - but there is a solution. Here at Time For You, we’ve got your back! Contact us for more details on how we can help to spread the chore workload and prove that it’s NOT only women’s work but is everybody’s work!

Making The Most Of Lockdown And Beyond

Does anybody else feel as if these restrictions are NEVER going to end? For many of us, isolation-fatigue has set in and, while we know it’s for the best, and the greater good, it is hard. Happily, evidence is showing that all of the restrictions are having a positive effect and the numbers are coming down… But instead of huddling under the duvet and eating endless packets of biscuits for the duration (as tempting as it is!), we can turn this moment of adversity into one of opportunity.

 

Seeking the silver lining 

The current cloud is pretty dark but there is a tiny slither of a silver lining, in as much as many of us have more time on our hands. The restrictions imposed are intended to still life and stop movement - so what to do with ourselves? 

Our homes have taken a pounding this year, with the vast majority of us spending a lot more time in them. They’ve also been our sanctuary, and a place to cocoon and feel safe. Now is the perfect time to show our homes some love.

 

Pay it forward 

During the first lockdown, there was a lot of talk of using the time for ‘transformation’ and, despite being well-intentioned, this is an awful lot of pressure. Big change is scary - and there’s enough scary happening in the world right now!  Smaller bit-sized projects are a much better, and less stressful, option. Instead of giving your home a total Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen makeover, make a list of easily achievable tasks, such as: 

  • Cleaning out the cutlery/utensil drawers in the kitchen. Seriously, have you seen the crumbs in there?!
  • Taking the books off the bookshelves and wiping with a nicely-scented anti-bac spray.
  • Moving big furniture, and the sofa, and cleaning underneath.
  • Organising the understairs cupboard/loft. Honestly, have you ever done this since you moved in?!
  • Having a wardrobe cull. Despite the happy memories it evokes, will you ever wear that neon pink ra-ra skirt from 1987 ever again?!
  • Organising the bedding cupboard by separating the single, double, king sets and even using a Sharpie to write a ‘S’, ‘D’ or ‘K’ on the labels of the fitted sheets. Come on, you’ve got time to kill, right?!
  • Get the Christmas decorations out and GET THEM UP! As we’re desperate for some festive cheer, many of us are decorating early this year and why not? There’s nothing like it to boost spirits and make us think of happier times.

 

During lockdown, keeping busy is vital and these are just some suggestions of how to give your home some special treatment. It deserves it! Obviously, it’s also super important to get out into the fresh air - so once the organisational tasks above have been done, why not get a cleaner in to help give your home some extra sparkly love? We can help you find a cleaner, even during lockdown, as our cleaners are still permitted to work inside people’s homes during this time, as long as the government guidelines on social distancing and staying safe are followed (which we ensure they will be).

 

Give your home the gift of extra loving care this festive season! A home isn’t just for Christmas ;)

Hands up, Happy Hinchers!

Do you love Mrs Hinch, the cleaning influencer and best-selling author? We do! The former hairdresser from Essex, also known as Sophie Hinchliffe, has gathered a huge fan base - the ‘Hinch Army’ - and she does make housework appealing. Affectionately calling her cleaning cloths and vacuum cleaner by their pet names, Mrs Hinch tackles her daily cleaning tasks with such warmth and sparkle, it’s hard not to be drawn in.

 

Kitchen sink shining 

Despite her cheery openness and easy-to-follow cleaning tips, it’s a fact that shining the kitchen sink might not soothe everybody’s soul! In her fabulous best-selling book, Hinch Yourself Happy, Mrs Hinch talks frankly about how cleaning is a way of calming her own anxiety. But this might not be a solution for all. It could be that the thought of cleaning the kitchen sink will only add to your stress levels! While this is not the intention of the book, as it is packed full of useful cleaning tips and guidance, it can leave those whose natural skills might not be cleaning/housework feeling a little inadequate…

 

Domestic Goddess Syndrome

Following Mrs Hinch and other domestic goddesses, such as Nigella Lawson, can make us feel not quite up to scratch on the old house and kitchen front! What if you feel that you’re not as good as these women or, more importantly, doing these tasks doesn’t spark your joy, like it does for Marie Kondo?! Or what if you’re just too busy juggling work and life? 

Not having the time to keep your house fully Hinched, or Kondoed, can make us feel sad because it’s true what these ‘queens of clean’ say: a clean and organised home does make us feel happier and calmer, somehow. It can just be a lot of pressure to have to do it ourselves.

 

Soul soothers 

Housework and cleaning might not be the way in which you wish to soothe your soul. After working hard all week and juggling the family, picking up a Minky cloth and the Zoflora is not for all of us! While we can all benefit from Mrs Hinch’s fantastic tips and guidance, in terms of getting organised, putting it into practice might be another matter!

 

What to do? 

So, you’ve read the book and are a signed-up member of the ‘Hinch Army’. You know that you want a lovely clean and organised home, which is a sanctuary after a hard week. You just don’t want to don the camo fatigues and grease the weapons yourself! Our advice? Get a cleaner! Use the knowledge gleaned from these cleaning bibles (they’re lovely and relaxing reads to have on your bedside table) and use it as a ‘manifesto’ on how you want your house to be. This will allow you to give clear direction to your cleaner for the sparkling home you want.

21 Homemade Gift Ideas

Although buying gifts can be fun, there is something special about homemade gifts. They show that thought has gone into the present as well as precious hours of your time. Yes, there are now many places online that you can purchase personalised presents, however, nothing is ever as personal as a DIY gift. Not only are they great presents to receive, but they can also be amazing fun to make as well.   

Whether your crafting skills are brilliant or extremely lacking, there are still ways you can create amazing presents that your family and friends will love. Here are some of our best homemade gift ideas.  

Homemade Christmas Cards 

These are a great place to start if you are nervous about your crafting skills. There are so many kits to help you get started online. The best thing about Christmas cards is that the options are endless and they are simple to do. 

Reed Diffuser 

Place essential oils and reed differs in a small vase, or even an old bottle, to add beautiful scents to your loved ones home. Play around with the essential oils to create a personalised aroma.   

Christmas Scene Candle 

Cut out a Winter wonderland scene and place around the base of a candle holder to instantly bring a festive feel. You can also turn empty jars into candle holders and decorate them with holly, glitter or more. The possibilities are virtually endless.  

Gift card holder 

Maybe ask for gift cards at Christmas. Although they make great gifts as they provide the recipient freedom to buy what they want, the gift cards themselves can be boring. Why not make them more personal by creating your own gift card holder out of cardboard. You can design it however you want and means you can put a festive stamp on an otherwise dull-looking gift.  

Calendars 

From wall calendars to desk calendars, they are a great homemade present. You can use family photos for each month and fill in all the important birthdays and anniversary dates already to save your loved one time. It will be lovely for them to go through all the amazing memories each month.  

Homemade glass baubles 

Make one of a kind Christmas tree decorations by filling empty glass baubles with glitter, coloured features, fake snow, mini Christmas trees, bells or any other pretty filling you have.   

Lavender sachets 

These make the perfect self-care present. Known to help relax and promote sleep, lavender is a calming scent. Made from whichever material you like, you can finish them off with buttons and fragrance.  

Hot chocolate sets 

These are perfect as a small gift to go with a mug or stocking filler. Place a few scoops of hot chocolate into a plastic disposable piping bag. Top with some chocolate buttons, mini marshmallows and perhaps even a small candy cane and seal with an elastic band and bow. All the person has to do is add to a mug of hot water or milk.   

Blanket or scarf 

Although some struggle to learn how to knit, many find crocheting easier or even hand knitting. There are many tutorials online to help you get started and blankets and scarfs are some of the easiest projects to start with. The best news is that they are practical and look great too. You can make them whichever colour you want and are perfect for the colder months. Why not go for a chunky knit blanket? They are usually expensive in the shop, so you can make one yourself at the fraction of the cost. Due to the size of the yarn, they also don’t take long to make.   

Sugar scrub 

Made with sugar, essential oils and fragrances, this is a low-cost way to produce a bath product they will love. Customise it to suit their favourite scents.  

BBQ kits 

If your loved one loves a good BBQ, create them a kit. Include BBQ tools, spice rubs and condiments like ketchup and BBQ. Place them all in a hamper for the ultimate BBQ gift. Make it even more special by making the sauces and rubs yourself.   

Homemade jams 

Sticking to the food theme, why not make homemade jam? They look sweet, taste amazing and are easy to make in large quantities.   

Ultimate night-in box 

Fill an old shoebox that you have wrapped in wrapping paper, fill with shredded paper and add everything they need for a cosy night in. Snacks, a candle, hot chocolate, wine, chocolate, face mask and comfy socks and PJs. They are all simple things but combined can make an amazing present.   

Hot chocolate stirrers 

Use an ice cube tray to melt chocolate in along with whatever other decoration or flavouring you want. Add a skewer or ice cream stick into each one and let them set. Finish off by adding any other decoration, then wrap the chocolate block with a cellophane wrap and a bow. Simply stir into a mug of hot milk for the perfect luxury hot chocolate.  

Recipe box 

If you have an avid cook in your family, they can sometimes be bombarded with new cookbooks. Try something different and make them a homemade recipe box. Fill it with empty cards ready for your loved one to add their favourite recipes.  

Herb planter 

Fill a wooden planter with their favourite herbs and personalise it with their name. Perfect to sit on the windowsill in the kitchen and have instant access to fresh ingredients whilst they cook.  

Homemade keyrings or jewellery 

Grab some wool and easily create pom poms (there are many video tutorials to explain how to do this - it is surprisingly easy). They can then be used to make keyrings, jewellery and more.  

Candles 

Candles are such a popular gift but why buy one when you can make one? All you need is a holder, some wicks, soy wax and whichever essential oils or colouring you want to add.  

Homemade fudge and chocolates  

Make these mouth-watering treats in a range of fun flavours. They make a great alternative to shop-bought versions.  

Christmas crackers 

You don’t even have to focus on the main gifts, there are many things on Christmas Day that you can make yourself, for example, crackers. There are many kits available that let you add your jokes and gifts inside. They are a perfect extra treat when people sit around the table and it means everyone gets something they like, not a plastic toy or bottle opener that lays unused.   

Personalised voucher book 

Some people are notoriously difficult to buy for. Not sure what to get someone? Why not make them a book of vouchers that they can redeem throughout the year. From mowing their lawn to cooking them a meal, babysitting, taking them to the cinema or a coffee shop, the options are endless and can be tailored to the person.   

As the list above suggests, there is a myriad of presents that can easily be homemade, from luxury gifts to simple stocking fillers. Whilst some will involve purchasing special equipment, others can be created using items you probably already have in your home. This not only makes the present economical, but it can also help reduce waste. Some projects are more challenging than others but they all show that thought and love have gone into the present. Crafting has also been shown to help lower stress levels. So whatever project you decide to go with this festive season, you can impress your loved ones with a one of a kind gift made especially by you! The most important thing is to have fun. 

Autumn Deep Clean Guide

We have all heard of the term "Spring Clean", but why should we limit it to one season a year? Studies have suggested that deep cleans should take place twice a year. Once in Spring and once in Autumn. Doing so is meant to help provide a healthier Winter. Here is our guide to an Autumn deep clean and some tips to help you get started.

Autumn is a great time to give your home a deep clean as temperatures are about to drop, windows will stay closed and the heating will start to be switched on. All of these factors combined mean your home will soon have the perfect conditions for carpets to harbour dirt and germs. Therefore, it is important to reduce the number of germs in advance by ensuring you start the season with a clean home.

Declutter cupboards

It can be surprising how quickly clutter can build up in your cupboards. This task can be labour intensive and is something many people put off until Spring but try and do this in Autumn as well. Although we are almost all guilty of storing items we no longer need, you will feel much better once this task is completed.

Decluttering your cupboards can help save valuable storage space and also help find new homes for your unwanted items. Start by removing all the items first and then go through the items individually. Do you really need them? When was the last time you used them? Are they just sat there gathering dust?

When tidying your clothes use this opportunity to switch from your Spring Summer wardrobe to your Autumn Winter clothing. Separate any items that are old or no longer fit and donate what you can.

Once you have decided what you want to get rid of, organise them to be donated or rehomed to friends and family. Only throw away items as a last resort to reduce waste.

Clean furniture

We tend to vacuum regularly, however, how often do you vacuum behind and underneath the furniture? Probably not as often as you should. Use this deep clean as an opportunity to do this. Move the sofa, wardrobes, and drawers away from the wall and vacuum up. You will probably be shocked at how much grime can build up in these places.

Removing all the dust can significantly reduce the number of allergens and leave you with cleaner air.

Remove cobwebs

Although cobwebs are inevitable during the Autumn months themselves, remove as many as you can as and when you see them. If the Summer has been warm and damp, this provides the perfect environment for spiders to breed. Removing them can help you keep these unwelcome guests to a minimum. Buying an extendable duster can help make this task a lot simpler.

Defrost the freezer

To help keep your freezer working at its best you need to maintain it. Defrosting your freezer is one task that you should not forget to do. Over time, if ignored the freezer will build up with ice, leaving you less room to actually store items.

Clean curtains and bedding

Although we change our bedding regularly, we don’t clean it often. However, your mattress and the bedding itself should not be ignored. A steam cleaner is a great tool to use as it kills 99% of germs and dirt. The steam cleaning is also perfect for giving your upholstery and curtains a refresh too. Although you will have to buy a steam cleaner it is a worthwhile investment.

Test alarms

With temperatures about to plummet, our fire, log burners, and central heating will be in full swing. Before the fires are lit ensure your chimney is clear and both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are tested to give you peace of mind.

If you have a chimney it must be checked for excess dirt, debris, or even bird nests.

Clean your light fittings

As the evenings get darker earlier and we need the lights on during the day, the beginning of Autumn is the perfect time to give your lights a clean. This also includes any lamps you may have. They can quickly get covered with dust which can end up making your lights dull. Having strong, bright lights are vital for the dark cold months so ensure they are dirt-free before Autumn arrives.

Consider switching to LED lights if you have rooms that could do with brightening up. This can make a huge difference during Autumn and Winter. They can also save you money in the long term and can be more environmentally friendly. During the deep clean is the perfect time to make changes like this.

Stock up on food and supplies

Whilst cleaning your kitchen make a note of any key ingredients you think you will need regularly during Autumn and Winter. We tend to prefer comforting warm meals such as casseroles and desserts during these seasons. Therefore check to see if you need any spices, herbs, pasta, rice, baking ingredients, etc so that you have everything at hand when you need it. Throw away any food items that are out of date as well.
Whilst you are doing a stock take, also ensure your medical kit is fully stocked in case of emergencies. It's always a good idea to check this regularly but it is often forgotten.

Put away patio furniture

Unfortunately, the long sunny evenings spent in the garden will soon be over so it is time to put away your garden furniture. If you don’t have anywhere to store them like a garage, buy special waterproof covers. Also, ensure your BBQ and any exposed gardening equipment are placed in a safe, dry place as well.

Check ventilation

Homes can become humid quickly which can cause mould and mildew growth. Before the cold weather kicks in check your ventilation is sufficient. The bathroom and kitchen are the areas to focus on as they are the most humid spots of your home.

Clean the inside of your car

Don’t just think about your house. Consider your car as well. Whilst the weather is still warm and dry, use this as your last chance to do a deep clean of your car’s interior before winter. Once you’ve done it, it will last you through the cold months. Ensure you use this as an opportunity to check you have de-icing equipment in the car ready for when the frost arrives.

Why is an Autumn deep clean important?

• Because of the lack of ventilation and warm moist air mainly caused by washing and drying your clothes indoors, your house can soon become the ideal environment for germs to spread. Having your central heating on and windows closed is great for keeping the heat in but also can cause dust, bacteria, and mould to duplicate. When the days are not as cold try and open your windows as much as possible during Autumn and even Winter if possible. Any ventilation is better than none.

• With cold and flu season happening during these months, it is great to use your deep clean to start the season as germ-free as possible. Then keep on top of the germs with regular cleans where antibacterial cleaners are used. Prioritise areas that people come into contact with regularly, especially children.

• Can help allergy sufferers - people who suffer from allergies will immediately reap the benefits of an Autumn deep clean. Focusing on cleaning items you normal neglect such as your bedding and upholstery will help avoid allergy flare-ups as regularly.

Although deep cleans can take some time and can be a daunting task you will definitely see the benefits and know that your house will be cleaner and healthier during the winter months. Breaking the task up into smaller chunks will make the task more manageable. However, once it has been completed you can sit back and relax until Spring rolls around.