When not on maternity leave, mum-of-two Ruth Johnson is the Buyer for InkFactory.com so she knows I thing or two about purchasing the right product.  As she’s getting ready for Christmas 2013 she told Supportive Business Mums how becoming a mum changed her present-buying habits and why a Christmas box is an essential all-year-round feature in their house.  

But we wanted to know more!  Just what kind of items, other than Ink Factory’s Print Your Own Photo Gifts of course, does Ruth have squirreled away in her boxes?  Friends and relatives of the Johnson family look away now…

I now have two present boxes. One is for adults and one is for children. They are functional rather than beautiful, large plastic stackable storage boxes filled with useful items. As we approach Christmas, my boxes are full to capacity. We now have two children (3 years and eight months) and I find myself planning ahead more and more!

Examples of Items in the Adult Box:

Love heart cake stands (reduced from £8.99 to 49p). From Dunelm. Spotted them in the summer whilst shopping for something else. They are perfect Christmas gifts for some of my baking friends, they also are lovely house-warming presents and I used one recently as part of a wedding present.

Bread Revolution, a book about baking bread (reduced from £17.99 to approx. £2). From Waitrose. Spotted it a few months ago whilst buying some groceries, a perfect Christmas gift for a friend who is experimenting with baking her own bread and has been kind enough to cook us some meals since our new baby arrived.   

Cosmetic purse from Boots. Bought at the full price of £10, but I had a coupon where I got £10 worth of points if I spent £50. Once I’d bought some toiletries, I added it to my basket so that I was spending enough to qualify for the offer. So essentially it was free and will make a nice gift for a female family member this Christmas.

Assorted Elemis toiletries bought when I went to a local spa. They had some special offers on and the gift sets were excellent value and there were some free smaller items if you spent a certain amount. I sometimes split big gift sets up and use the items with something else to make them more appropriate to the recipient – for example my Nannas would probably just use bubble bath and not shower cream too, so the shower cream can go to someone else, maybe with some little extras like a toiletries bag.

Jam labelling/covering sets. Bought cheaply from the clearance section in Tesco the other week. One of my friends made jam for us this summer but didn’t have any labels and so scrawled on the jar. Guess what she’s getting for Christmas!

Hand-knitted scarf made by one of my Nannas, perfect for an added extra for someone.

Very plain good quality boxed photo frames. Suitable for giving to a lot of people. Bought in a department store sale at 70% off.

Assorted boxes of chocolates, bought when they are on special offer at different supermarkets (at least 50% off). Perfect for Christmas gifts or for taking to someone’s house when invited round in December. One of my Nannas is very fussy when it comes to chocolate. I have a box of her favourite chocolate bought a month ago when it was on offer at £2 instead of £5.  

Examples of Items in the Child Box:

When friends who we don’t see very often visit from far away, it is nice to have something on hand to give to their children but sometimes it helps to see them (and how they have changed!) to work out what items in the present box would be most suitable.

My Special Things tin with a giraffe on the front. Unisex, ideal for giving to a child about 4 – 8 years old. Bought for approx. £6 from a local card shop because I thought it was versatile.

Fun slippers with ladybirds on that Tim bought one day thinking that our son might wear them. They are 5 sizes too big for him, but they’ll be suitable for another child! (Now you know why I didn’t want to send him present shopping as I said in the Supportive Business Mums post!)

Love heart plastic measuring spoons (reduced from £5.33 to £1.49 in Waitrose). Perfect when teamed with the Usborne Christmas Fairy Cooking book (approx. £1 reduced from £4.99 bought in a discount bookstore) and the Christmas 5 piece Kids Baking Set (approx. £1 reduced from £3.99 in Dunelm after Christmas). Ideal for little girls who like to bake.

Twinpack of festive pants in a Christmas bauble, bought cheaply in the Debenhams sale not long after Christmas. A little extra gift for my young niece.

Baby’s first Christmas Boofle dog (approx. £4 reduced from £14.99 in Clinton Cards). Bought in January when I was 8 months pregnant. Ideal to go in my baby girl’s stocking this year.  

Assorted bath toys/bubble bath/wash sets for young children. Bought whilst on offer in Boots and so that my online order qualified for free delivery – Gruffalo/JCB/Matey/Sesame Street Elmo. Ideal for young boys at Christmas or as birthday presents for nursery school friends. We are getting so many plastic toys that I was thinking that we can’t be the only ones with an impending storage problem! Buying consumables for little friends seems like a thoughtful idea if their toy boxes are as full as ours are.

Sticker books bought online from sites like M&S when trying to make up an order value to qualify for a discount or free delivery threshold.

Pencil sets with fun toppers that were on a 3 for 2 offer at Boots and are ideal mini gifts.

The present boxes come in handy because try as I might, it is hard keeping track of things (I think it’s called Baby Brain!) and there is always a time when I might quickly need a gift and it’s great to be able to give the illusion of being on top of things!

If you think you could do with building up a present box too then it’s definitely worth taking a look at Ink Factory’s PYO – Print Your Own collection.  They’re quick and easy to do and, taking advantage of the current 3 for 2 offers, you can order a few different things – frames, coasters, table mats, key rings, fridge magnets – keep them in your Christmas box and when you need something quickly all you have to do is print your own photo that’s appropriate for the recipient and pop it in the gift.  In minutes you’ll have a lovely personalised gift that your recipient will think you’ve been planning for ages!

lady bird slippers

Let us know how you’d use an Ink Factory PYO photo gift on Twitter @inkfactory or Facebook at www.facebook.com/inkfactory

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