Alex Stedman is the woman behind the wildly popular, affordable fashion blog The Frugality. Her sharp eye for finding and styling the high street's best buys without blowing the monthly pay-packet attracts tens of thousands of regular readers. As do her lifestyle articles, from city guides to insights into her and her husband's current renovation project on their new house. And this is all alongside her day job as a stylist!
We sat down with Alex in her newly decorated living room to help choose seasonal stickers (from her very large collection that started when she was 8!) for her Christmas cards whilst chatting all things yuletide.
How long before Christmas do you usually send your Christmas cards out? Are you a brief message writer or do you write a lengthy message?
I am very early, usually first week of December – I like to get in there first! I don't write loads but ever since I was little, I have always decorated the cards with Christmas stickers and still do. It's quite childish but everyone always knows the cards are from me even before they open it – I quite enjoy that.
Do you write lists to keep track of presents and Christmas cards?
Yes, I am pretty obsessed with lists, it helps to budget when buying cards – I know how many to buy! I also write down a list of presents so we always send Thank You cards in the New Year.
Have you got any frugal tips for Christmas?
I do all my food shopping at Lidl, they do amazing canapés and desserts at Christmas time. I've also picked up some great toys in the middle aisles! I also start doing my Christmas shopping in October, buying a few things as I go, so it doesn't hit me all at one go in December.
What Christmas traditions do you have?
Apart from watching Home Alone on repeat and eating Norman Parkinson's pickled onions until I can't stand them anymore, not too many. My husband's family have a traditional curry day on the 27th December. His nan used to make it every year but never passed on the exact recipe, so now all the family take it in turns to recreate it how they remember.
How do you feel about wrapping?
I love wrapping, but I'm always torn between doing a fabulous 'theme' and reusing leftover paper and ribbons I've collected throughout the year – usually recycling wins – but it still looks chic! Usually brown parcel paper and coloured ribbons work a treat.
What are your thoughts on Christmas themed clothes? Do you have any novelty pieces that get an airing every yuletide?
I like to overdress for Christmas, but usually something a bit fashion like a tulle skirt and Bella Freud jumper or a velvet blazer. I have a reindeer jumper but it's usually worn indoors!
As a freelancer, do you ever feel you're missing out on Christmas office parties? Or is it the opposite?
Not at all! In publishing, we never really had big parties anyway, and it was always my busiest time of year work wise so I'd often miss it by being on a shoot or writing copy that was due in. I still go to a few Christmas events with brands and I try to organise a dinner with my husband, whom I work with – this year we've booked the bar at J Sheekey.
You're very good at replying to comments on each and every one of your blog and Instagram posts. How important is it to you to keep that conversation going with your followers?
To be honest, I love the conversation – it's so nice to have responsive readers and I never take this for granted. I suppose that's what is so different about blogs and influencers – there is someone on the other end of the platform...
What are you looking forward to in 2018?
We are expecting a baby in March 2018, so I think that will be pretty exciting...