It seems like an age and a half ago since Christmas, and as late as it comes I thought I take the opportunity to wish you all a happy new year – success, health and wealth!
The latter was (remotely) the focus of the Christmas event which I had the pleasure to organise for one of our very deprived housing estates. It was called Thriftmas and aimed to address the negative side effect which the festive season has to our finances every year.
In the previous nearly half of Britain had built up significant debt over Christmas, leaving every second Brit starting the year struggling to pay off debts accumulated during the holiday season.
The idea of the Thriftmas event in Grahame Park December 2014 was to spread some Christmas spirit and help people realise that Christmas does not have to be expensive and that with a bit of creativity they can create unique seasonal items including cards, gifts and decoration. If you now are thinking of Little House in the Prairie and home made popcorn chains – then you’re definitely in the zone!
Grahame Park is one of the most deprived in the UK. Most of the residents here are on low income. A recent survey has shown that 71% of people on low income pay off their Christmas debt for the whole year to come.
Grahame Park residents took the opportunity to make their Christmas cards, gifts and decoration, thanks to excellent partnership work everything was available for free!
Our residents learned how to make personalised gifts and decoration with things they might already have in the household. Gifts made of baubles and pens, decoration made of cornstarch dough and of course cards made of paper/card and pictures, stickers and other lovely things.
150 visitors of all backgrounds and religions enjoyed making festive items, and felt a real sense of accomplishment. One resident stated that she “did not think to be able to make something as beautiful as this card.” Another one felt really “proud” of her dough decoration which will get a “special place” on her family’s Christmas tree. Other enjoyed spending quality time with their children and help them learn important skills such as cutting and “drawing letters” on the baubles, as well as rolling out dough.
My lovely colleagues of the Barnet Homes choir happily came from the other end of the borough to warm our hearts with tradition and modern carols on this really cold afternoon.
Of course there was also face painting, popular as ever and the Christmas Puppet Show was of course one of the highlights and captivated parents and children alike, many of which had never seen a live puppet show before.
A special visit from Santa Claus (volunteering by our lovely caretaker) put a smile on many children’s faces and his small gifts caused a lot of excitement.
The library registered more new members in a day than they would usually within a week and they were happy to see so many new people, many of which were inspired to get books about craft and DIY.
I am a true Christmas nutter and could have Christmas every day. However due to the big Black History Month event I did not have a s much time to plan this as I hoped.I hope for next year’s Thriftmas event to be better planned out and of course bigger! Do you have any ideas and tips on how to have a cheaper Christmas or on how to engage residents in fun budgeting activities? Id love to hear your ideas and am always interested in people who would like to join us for our events, whether it be with ideas, resources or helping out on the day.
Happy new year everyone!