I'm so tight I'm buying the kids 'tat' for Xmas – I don't care if I'm trolled, it means I can go on a hot tub holiday | The Sun
NOT many parents admit to buying broken toys for their kids for Christmas, but Catherine Lofthouse does.
In fact she's proud of her spendthrift ways – saying it's what's enabled her to go on a posh holiday hot tub break before Christmas.
So when other people are scrabbling about, trying to get the latest 'must have' Squishmallow, Catherine will get them anything – so long as it's from a charity shop.
"They will still have plenty of presents under the tree when Christmas comes around, so it's win-win as far as they are concerned," the 42-year-old, from Loughborough, Leics., said. "And best of all with all the money I've saved we get to go on a £200 hot tub break.
"We're going to Tattershall Lakes in Lincolnshire for three nights. They have lodges with hot tubs and I can't wait.
"I'd rather do that than spend loads on the kids' toys.
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"I don't care if I am trolled."
She said it was madness to go crazy spending loads over the festive season. "I'd rather go broken than go broke when it comes to the festive season as bills can soon add up and then you end up paying for the festivities until way into the New Year," freelance writer Catherine said.
Catherine's cheapskate ways all started when I spotted a huge wooden castle play set at the charity shop one year for just £8, instead of the £50-plus it would have cost new.
"There was no way of checking in the shop whether all the pieces were there or if any bits were broken so I just had to take a chance that it would be okay," she said.
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"When we checked it over at home, there were a few pegs that held the pieces together missing, but they were easily replaced.
"Once I'd given the whole thing a good clean and set it up in the lounge ready for Christmas morning, you wouldn't have known that it hadn't come straight out of the box.
Broken toys = hot tub fun
"Seeing the boys' faces light up when they came down to find a castle in their living room made me feel on top of the world."
That was about five or six years ago and ever since then, she's kept her eyes open when she visit her local charity shop for any toys that have got pieces missing or a bit of damage so she can bag a bargain.
"Quite often, it will be reduced to next to nothing just to get it to sell," she said. "If I think I can make a quick repair or find a replacement part, I'll give it a go.
"This year, I've bought a brand-new rucksack for my son's rugby kit that matches his team colours for just £3.
"The stitching on the zip had come loose, but that was easily sorted and now it's good to go.
"Meanwhile, I spotted an Osmo learning set for my smallest son for just £5.
"The box needed a good clean and there should have been a maths game, alongside the phonics and tangrams sets that were there, but they can all be used separately so it won't make any difference to him.
Catherine's a charity shop maestro
"A second hand starter kit costs about £20-25 on eBay, while a new kit is around £100 online, so that's a massive saving."
She's also put together a bundle of space-themed jigsaws and games for about a fiver that would have cost £50 new, just by using a bit of glue to stick down peeling pictures and a felt tip or a bit of paint to cover over any cracks or chips."
"My top tip when it comes to breathing new life into old toys is that if you find something that has missing pieces, it's worth contacting the manufacturer to see if you can get replacements," she said.
"I've done this with an electricity circuits set that needed a couple of new parts and last year, I found the board game Rush Hour in the 50p box at the charity shop.
"I gathered up most of the cars that were scattered loose in the bargain bin, but a couple were missing, so I wrote to the manufacturer and they sent me replacements free of charge. It made a great stocking filler for 50p instead of £15 new.
"If you find something that's been preloved to pieces and you think you can get it back into working order, why not give it a go? The money is all going to a good cause so if it turns out you can't fix it, you've still done something good for charity.
Pre-loved means she gets to enjoy a spa-like break
"The irony is that the vast majority of broken toys that I've restored have carried on working fine.
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"It's always the new toys fresh from the box that stop working without warning, often not long after they were opened."
And she finished: "Of course, you can take these back to the shop, but it's still very disappointing for the little one looking forward to playing with it on Christmas Day."
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