Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips

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My summer so far…

It’s only half way through the school holidays and I’ve already been having a wonderful summer break. I’ve been on a few day trips, I’ve visited a handful of places and got a few of my “to-do’s” done. If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, here’s the goss…summer holiday sunset beach huts seaside-2I went to the seaside. During the very first weekend of the summer holidays I organised to go away from Friday – Monday. It isn’t a long drive from here to the Essex coast, but it was a very hot one! We arrived for our yearly family holiday at around 9am and headed straight to the beach hut. We pretty much spent the rest of the day on the beach, throwing a giant frisbee that I’d bought ‘for the kids’ and tucking into traditional fish ‘n’ chips. The heat dictated plenty of trips to the swimming pool and lots of breezy walks along the promenade to cool off. We enjoyed a game of bowling on Saturday evening, and the bowl ‘n’ burger deal on the pier is always a winner – the burgers are huge! Sunday was a chilled out beach day and on Monday we visited the nearest ‘big’ town for more arcade fun and a trip to the Sealife Centre. A wonderful weekend.

I visited a museum. Ipswich Transport Museum to be precise. I’d never been before, despite growing up in Suffolk from the age of ten. It was a real surprise to find so many interesting exhibits in an unassuming old bus hangar. I’ll share more photos in a ‘proper’ blog post about the museum soon and give you my tips for visiting during the school hols. Another lovely day out with the family that didn’t cost a fortune, bonus!

Continue reading “My summer so far…” »

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How to be a good bridesmaid


Your bestie finally asked — you’re going to be a bridesmaid! The next few months (or even years) are going to be a whirlwind of planning, preparation and parties. If you’re going to go down in history as the best bridesmaid ever, you’ll need to up your game. While I’m away for the last of the school holidays (and I’ll report back on what we got up to next week!) House of Fraser has been kind enough to write a guest post for me, sharing their tips on being a good bridesmaid:bridesmaid dress house-of-fraser-brocade1.     Wear the dress

The most important part of your role in the wedding is the bridesmaid dress, so you’re naturally going to have some opinions and preferences around what you would like. By all means tell the bride what style suits you and which colours you like but when your comments start to turn into diva demands, it’s time to stop. Remember, it’s not your wedding, so if the bride has settled on a bridesmaid dress that may not be to your taste, bite your tongue and wear it.

2.     Make sure you’re 100% invested

As we’ve already mentioned, there’s more to being a bridesmaid than following the bride down the aisle. Rather, you’ll dedicate months — maybe even years — of your life to wedding planning, dress fittings, hair trials and hen parties. If you can’t commit to all events, you should consider whether you should be a bridesmaid in the first place.

house of fraser bridesmaid dresses

Cobalt blue bridesmaid dresses from House of Fraser

3.     Start saving in advance

It’s no secret that weddings are expensive. If the bride and groom need to reign in their spending, you may be asked to buy your own dress or shoes, or pay for your own hair and makeup. Throw in a wedding present and hen party spends and the costs can quickly mount up. Start saving as soon as you’re asked to be a bridesmaid, so you won’t be strapped for cash in the long run. Continue reading “How to be a good bridesmaid” »

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It’s awards season – how do the celebrities get it so right? (or wrong!)

I was watching the Bafta’s last weekend when I started thinking about celebrity dresses and how much effort goes into creating the perfect red carpet look. I’m certain that no celebrities will want to appear in the ‘worst dressed’ column in the newspapers on the day after a big awards ceremony and I know that hours of work goes into creating an on trend look – just think about all the styling, the dress-fittings, tanning, hair and make-up, not to mention the weeks of preparation in the gym, skin treatments and beauty procedures. All this effort from teams of people in order to make sure the celebrity looks good when they head to the Oscars. Whether they win or not is another matter!

awards dresses and celebrity style keira knightley salma hayek

Unfortunately I don’t have a team of personal stylists to help me look good but with all the weddings I’m going to this year I’d like to try to look my best – especially because I might end up being immortalised in a photograph! I also know that we’re heading into prom-season and lots of you will be searching for ‘the’ dress to wear to your high school, college or university prom a little later on in the year. If only there was a way to make use of all the hours of celebrity styling that goes into a red carpet look so that you can guarantee that you’ll look as fabulous as Salma Hayek or Keira Knightley (above).

duchess of cambridge design from victorias dress

I’ve found the solution in the form of custom-dress designer Victoria’s Dress. They hand make stunning prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses and special occasion outfits but, even better than that, they can recreate celebrity red carpet dresses for a fraction of the cost of the designer version. It’s amazing how quickly they can turn red carpet dresses into a celebrity-inspired design for people like you and me. So now we can all look as great as the Duchess of Cambridge in her elegant chiffon dress for only £89 – don’t tell Kate! I’d love to wear something like this for any of the special events that I’m due to attend this year – although it would probably help if I had Catherine’s figure too! These celebrity dresses above are just a few of the designs that Victoria is reproducing so check out the celebrity range here!

cocktail outfits from victorias dress

I’m sure that my little sister will be able to find a gorgeous dress design for her college prom from this website and the fact that it is hand-made and custom-fitted will ensure that she looks as amazing as all the celebrities when she walks up her own red carpet! And there’s not only long dresses on the Victoria’s Dress website – there are shorter cocktail dresses and trendy gowns too, so I’m planning to find something suitable for the weddings that I’m attending this year. Obviously, I don’t want to look like a bridesmaid so I probably won’t go for a long dress and definitely nothing in the colour theme of the wedding (!) but I want to look my best and if my budget can stretch to it I’ll be choosing one of these glamourous cocktail dresses above – isn’t the blue one just stunning?! Visit Victoria’s Dress for yourself and check out the stunning range, and if you think any others would be right for me, please send me your suggestions!

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Hen party series ~ Make a personal gift for the bride

Previously, Claire from Lacey in Places  blog shared her top tips for planning a hen party (read the article here) and today she continues to share her experiences of organising a vintage hen party for her friend Becky.  She has previously shared a downloadable budget spreadsheet and even invitation templates (read this planning article here) to make it super-easy to keep track of the hens, the accommodation and activities costs and she has also written about making DIY crafty decorations for the hen party! In today’s blog post, Claire is discussing how to create a personal gift for the bride and getting all the hens involved:

It’s a great idea to create a special gift for your bride. In this case, we created a “Becky & Her Birds” book and it gave all hens a chance to get involved in crafting a unique and special treat for the bride. It celebrates the occasion and shows the bride how important she is to all the hens, plus it gives everyone a chance to share their own memories and photos of their relationship with the bride – after all, the hens are there as the very best friends of the bride and any contribution to the book will be greatly appreciated by the bride.

diy personalised craft gift book scrapbook for the bride at hen party

For Becky’s book, my sister Kat very kindly made super-cute mini bunting to attach to the book and decorated the front cover with a photo of Becky with some hens.  Before the party, I emailed all the hens and asked everyone to bring with them pictures with Becky to glue in and write a special message to her. The book we used was from Paperchase for £9 contained 50 pages so I allocated two pages in the book to each hen, adding their names and placed them in alphabetical order. We also stuck in left-over bits of doilies from the bunting decorations and added more kitten stickers from the straw nametags and I provided lots of coloured pens and paper so that the hens could get creative with their pages and the result a lovely book full of memories, with all the pages looking so different and pretty – decorated personally by each hen.

Next week, I will discuss some ideas for party games and share some of the DIY makes you can create for your own hen party activities!

More hen party series articles

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Hen Party Series ~ Making it personal

If you’ve been following my fun hen party series, you’ll know that we have been spoiled-rotten with lots of lovely articles from my fellow bloggers, sharing ideas for party themes (check out the links below!) and how to plan the perfect hen do. In her past articles for this series, Claire from Lacey in Places  shared her top tips for planning a hen party (read the article here) and very kindly shared her downloadable budget spreadsheet and invitation templates! Plus we’ve had articles on his ‘n’ hers hen and stag parties, costume ideas and much more! If you’re planning a hen party for your friend, are going to a hen night or even want to get ideas for your own party have a read  back over the previous articles in the hen party series – you’ll be sure to get lots of good ideas – but for today, we’re discussing how you can personalise the big night for your bride!

The bride will only ever have one hen party in her life, so you certainly want to make it the most personal party that you can for her to remember for a lifetime. Did you see Claire’s blog post in this hen party series that shared how she personalised her best friend Becky’s hen party and made it an especially vintage affair, full of Becky’s favourite things. Claire and the other hens crafted some unique decorations and organised activities that fitted in with the theme. I think it’s lovely to take the time to make personalised items for the hen party and the bride will know that you’ve gone to a lot of extra effort to make the party personal to her.

hen party series cassiefairy lifestyle blog hen party superstore t shirts and sashes

So now is the time to consider personalising items for the big night out. T-shirts and sashes are classic hen party uniform and creating a personalised outfit will ensure that everyone knows that the hens are part of one big group and highlights the bride from the rest of the group – especially good to make sure that the bride gets all the attention (and free drinks!). If you’re looking for a professional company to print your hen party t-shirts, there are a few companies out there such as the Hen Party Superstore who will do it all for you, to make sure you get a seamless look and take all the hassle out of organising different t-shirt sizes, colours and names etc for all the hens (which can take up a lot of your time if you’re organising a big hen party!). It can also be a lot cheaper than you might think to get your tops and sashes professionally printed, because even the lowest-priced high street t-shirts can actually cost more than a diamanté-printed top! And what would you rather have for your best pal’s big night?! Plus you can get freebies, such as a hen party planner, games and nickname ideas when you order from this hen party specialist, so it’s well worth checking it out!

I know that if I were planning my own hen night all over again, I’d be going the whole hog with customized t-shirts, bridal tutu, personalised sashes and all the fabulous, cheesy accessories that really make a hen party memorable! I think that the trends for hen parties has gone full circle – so that things that might have gone ‘out of fashion’ over the last few years, has now become kitsch and cool, so I would be snapping up all the pink, glitzy diamante accessories and feather boas! Let me know what you think and leave me a comment below about how you celebrated your own or your friend’s hen party! 🙂

Make sure you come back next week for another crafty article by Claire from Lacey in Places, all about the personalised present that she and the hens made for Becky’s vintage hen party – Here’s a sneaky peek below!

diy personalised craft gift book scrapbook for the bride at hen party

More hen party series articles



Hen party series ~ Crafty fun – making decorations for the hen do!

In this hen party series, we have been spoiled-rotten with lots of lovely articles sharing ideas for party themes (check out the links below!) and how to plan the perfect hen do. In her article last week, Claire from Lacey in Places  shared her top tips for planning a hen party (read the article here) and very kindly shared her downloadable budget spreadsheet and invitation templates! Today she continues to share her experiences of organising a vintage hen party for her friend Becky and discusses crafty ideas for hen party decorations and getting all the hens involved in the party prep:

The hen Becky loves a bit of crafting, so I thought I’d make it extra special by making homemade special decorations for the hen and also to save the pennies, so today I’m going to show you how I spent the grand total of £7 to make decorations for the apartment we were staying in.

In my previous blog I mentioned quite a few of the hen party had offered to help, so I thought I’d kindly take them up on the offer by hosting a crafting evening with my lovely fellow hens Joey, Katie and Sarah. The crafting night gave me the chance to get the opinion of the hens, save time and money, and most importantly have fun! I visited my local 99p discount store to get all the materials for the hen, which cost me the grand total of £7!! As we were planning a vintage hen do, we decided to make the decorations in the colour theme of Becky’s wedding, pink and orange. Also Becky had recently got her first cat – Mr Bigglesworth – who she absolutely adored, so I decided he would make a ‘guest’ appearance over the weekend.

DIY craft making straw labels for a vintage hen party by laceyinplaces

Straw name tags
I knew we were going to be having a few drinks during the hen party, so may become forgetful about which drink belonged to who so thought it would be a good idea to make name tags to hang from our straws, so we could keep track of our own drinks! What you’ll need: Scissors, felt tip pens and a hole puncher, ribbon, stickers (kitten stickers in this case), cardboard (I took a page out of Becky’s memory book to save money)
1. Cut the cardboard into a shape of a luggage tag and hole punch the top side
2. Using the kitten stickers I purchased for £1 (the grey ones look like Mr Bigglesworth) stick these to the cards and write each hens name on the card – make sure you make an extra large one for the hen
3. Finally inset the ribbon through the hole and attach it to the straw
4. Ta-dah – you have your vintage looking personalised tags for your straws!

Tissue paper pompoms – makes approximately 10-15 dependent on the size you choose

What you’ll need: Scissors, jewellery plastic wire or string, pack of tissue paper (20 sheets) = Grand total £2

  1. Put together at least 6 sheets of tissue paper and cut all the sheets into a square
  2. Concertina or fold the tissue paper into a fan, once done trim the edge of each tissue paper into a round shape
  3. Then tie a long piece of the wire and string around the middle of the folded paper (make sure it is nice and long as you will also be using it to also hang the pompom up
  4. Carefully fold them away flat to take to the hen (if you fold them out before you go they’ll get squashed enroute)
  5. Once at the destination pull the layers of tissue paper out layer by layer until it is in a ball shape – then hey presto you have your pom pom!!

making tissue paper pompom decorations for a vintage hen party by laceyinplaces

Doily Bunting

What you’ll need: Scissors, glue and a large marker pen, sequin string (£1 for 15meters from pound store), pack of doilys (£1 for 50 doilys from the pound store) 

  1. Fold your doilies in half, then fold them over the string
  2. Glue the two halves together
  3. Add the remainder of the doilies to the string and leave to dry
  4. You may wish to write some letters or draw on the doilies like we did

Simple, cheap, quick and effective to do!

making doily decorations for a vintage hen party by laceyinplaces

Mr Bigglesworth Kitten masks

I enlarged a photo of Mr Biggles and used my printer to print out a mask for all 16 hens, including Becky.  My mum very patiently and kindly cut out the masks for me – bless her!! So when Becky walked in to the apartment blindfolded she was confronted by a nest of kittens crouched in the corner – after initially jumping it did take her a few seconds to realise it was Biggles!! You could make similar masks using the faces of the beloved pets of the bride – or perhaps even a photo of her hubby-to-be! Which leads us nicely on to…

making cat masks for a vintage hen party by laceyinplaces 

Inflatable Jim

We were concerned that Becky may miss Jim over the course of the weekend.  I therefore ordered a 4ft inflatable man – who turned out to only be 1ft big so a bit too small for Becky to cuddle at night… So we quickly improvised with a balloon and cushion.  Heloise, Jim’s sister then bought some of this clothing.  Here is substitute Jim waiting for her in Becky’s bed for the weekend!! We also through in a photo of Jim above her bed incase she forgot what the real Jim looked like.

making the groom for a crafty vintage hen party by laceyinplaces

Next time, I’ll share more ideas about how to make extra special gifts for the bride, including a tip jar and hen book, but in the meantime, check out the links below for more fun articles from the hen party series!

More hen party series articles


Hen party series ~ Planning a vintage hen party

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been running a series of articles on hen parties – and with the summer wedding season fast approaching, I’m glad to be able to bring you some top-tips from lots of my fellow bloggers. Ellen previously sharing her article on personalising a hen party  and last week we had a guest blog on hen party activities. I’ve discussed 50s and his ‘n’ hers party themes and over the coming weeks there’ll be craft tutorials, ideas for games, budget planning and costume sewing tips from Kat. Today my friend Claire from LaceyinPlaces blog is sharing her tips for creating the perfect hen do, starting with the subject of planning:


After ten years together my very good friends Becky and James have decided to get married! She gave me the very special honour of being her bridesmaid – which means I got to play a key role in planning her hen do yaaay! I’ve been to a several hen dos over the years but was feeling nervous as want to make sure both Becky and the hens have an amazing time. To get inspiration I started to do research by speaking to friends with Mary Poppins-like hen party arranging powers and also turned to the power of Google. After a couple of hours searching, I became frustrated as I realised there was no one-stop-shop for inspiration and tools to use to plan a hen party.

So I’m going to change that – over the course of the next few weeks I’m going to take you step-by-step through the planning for Becky’s hen and provide you with lots of ideas for running your own glam and tasteful hen party – but not too tasteful as there will be naughty things and a few other surprises along the way!  I’m going to provide you with everything from templates for emails to hens, hen activity and budget tracker for you to download and customise, to lists of games, decoration ideas, mementos and most importantly cake ideas. 

So don’t panic, sit back and relax while I guide you through the plans… 

Week 1 Planning – The who, what, where, when of the hen

I had two months to organise the hen so had to get things moving quickly, especially as the hen party was due to take place on a Bank Holiday weekend therefore I was concerned accommodation and activities would be getting booked up. The first thing I did was sit down with Becky and the other bridesmaid along with speaking to her close friends to gather ideas. I then drew up with Becky a list of the four ‘w’s as follows:

  • Who to invite.  A list of hen party attendees – she underestimated how popular she was as rather than her original estimate of eight hens this doubled to 16
  • What she would like to do:
    • Duration of the hen– in this case a minimum of two nights
    • The theme – We discussed a range of options from Barbie to bananas – but decided on Vintage as she is a classy lady
    • Activities – she is a super thoughtful person so wanted everyone to take home a memento. Make sure her stomach is lined for hard core drinking later and to have plenty of time to speak to all the hens. To go dancing.
    • Boundaries – how much naughtiness, she opted for a tasteful amount and specified  no oiled-up men
  • Where would she like to have her hen party. UK-based and, in turn, affordable, so as many people as possible could attend. She was torn as to where to hold the hen to make it as easy as possible for people to attend as half her friends are in London the other in the West Country. As she is based in Bath and wanted her fellow colleagues to attend I took the executive decision to hold the hen in Bristol.  Conveniently one of the hens lived in Bristol who proved an invaluable source of knowledge as to what activities to do. 
  • When the hen party would be: over a bank holiday weekend when everyone has time off work on the Monday to recover!

Now that I had an outline of the basic plan and a rough idea of numbers attending, I was able to start provisionally booking activities, looking for accommodation and organising a budget for the whole weekend, including food, transport, decorations – everything! In next week’s hen party blog post I will share a spreadsheet for you to download and use for your own hen party to work out a cost-per-head for each of the guests AND I’ll share a party invitation template that you can send my email and it will help you get a quick response from the hens!

Claire’s top tips

  1. Agree what’s in and out of scope for the hen do– Sit down with the Bride to find out what she would like to do and to ensure she is not out of her comfort zone if you provide her with a troupe of strippers for example!!
  2. Pick a fun creative theme everyone will love – to make sure they all feel special and have a good giggle.  It also allows you to get your crafty gloves on and have lots of giggles – plus allows you to save lots of money. 
  3. Delegate and take up offer of support – Don’t try to do everything. If a hen/s have said they are happy to help take them up on the offer and delegate activities.  The Bristol hen was a super star in going to scope out venues/activities to report back on whether they were suitable.  Two hens was super creative so wanted to sort out Becky’s dress and another hen loved to bake so offered to make a cheeky cake. 
  4. Find out what everyone can afford – get their opinion on the costs and activities from the word go. It is difficult to please everyone but it is important to consult with the hens and make them appreciate that you have tried to plan the most fun and best value hen to the Bride’s specification
  5. Set firm deadlines and get the money upfront – You need to know who’s in and who’s out to finalise hen plans and also to pay the bills for activities.  Get people to commit, as I’ve heard so many stories of the hen party organiser being left out of pocket. 
Hen party series articles


Hen party series ~ ideas for personalising your party

With the summer wedding season fast approaching, I have decided to start a series of blog posts on the subject of that most important bridal tradition – the Hen Party. I will be writing a few posts of my own hen party experiences and I am also inviting other lovely bloggers to share their ideas for creating the perfect hen do. Over the coming weeks we’ll have craft tutorials, ideas for games and budget planning from Lacey in Places and this week writer Ellen Avants has shared the following article about personalising a hen party to make it extra special for the bride, bridesmaids and guests. Enjoy!

Whether you choose to take your party out of the henhouse, or keeping within the coop, a hen party is a time in which friends come together to give a bride a fun sendoff as she leaves one chapter of her life to enter the next. The possible settings are endless and, take note, themed hen parties are increasingly popular as ladies look for a way to make the night memorable. When going out for a night on the town, you can set the night apart by wearing hen tank tops, tutus or, for those who are daring, playboy bunny outfits. For a look that is both elegant and sassy, why not have partygoers pull out their favorite little black dresses? Just make sure that everyone can easily move about and is comfortable in their outfits, or else they’re in for a very long night! Of course, the bride-to-be should receive special treatment, perhaps with a telltale necklace, tiara, or a different coloured outfit that will stand out. It would be a thoughtful gift to provide some flip-flops for everyone to change into after many hours in high heels. Other common accessories for hen parties include boas, party badges, fun hats, candy rings and more. You can make the party favors practical for both the special night and everyday life – one idea is to gift your bridesmaids and favorite friends a cute little clutch with portable tissues, a stick of lip balm, a snack bar and mini hand sanitizer. Or how about a cute flask or shot glass that they can drink from? When choosing your favours, have them personalized to make your bridesmaids feel extra special.

hen party ideas for personalised event pampering spa

A more relaxing idea would be a spa party, where you can order all your ladies a monogrammed robe and engraved champagne flute; add on a pair of slippers if you’re feeling generous, and voila! A spa-themed party can be held within a luxurious establishment or even within the comfort of your own home – place a few strategically lit candles, whip up some natural face masks, have healthy snacks available and play some soothing tunes, and your home can be transformed into a relaxing haven in which a bride-to-be can unwind and laugh with her bridesmaids as she receives a manicure.

Throughout the planning process, always keep in mind the bride’s personal preferences. While you may think that crude toys are hilarious, don’t travel down that path if they’re likely to make her uncomfortable. If you’re weary of crossing the line, there are plenty of ways in which you can be subtly mischievous. Consider serving cheeky cookies or giving the bride the option of playing naughty games like “Never Have I Ever,” a game in which a person takes a drink every time they have experienced something that another player has never done. Have fun with photographs to create memories that will last for a lifetime!  Perhaps you and the partygoers can stage the “morning-after mug shots” in which each woman, presumably looking a little disheveled, poses in front of a blank wall with a name card—Bridesmaid, Bride-to-Be, “Maid of Dishonor”—and each photo labeled with the date of the night before. It’s playful, fun, and certainly a happy medium between the usual posed group pictures and those not permitted on the World Wide Web!

So, when planning a hen party, don’t neglect the details. After all, it is the creative touches that can elevate the night and make your bride feel like a princess. With a little bit of thought and creativity, as well as a lot of love, you can give your friend a wonderful party; and brides, return the favour with tokens of appreciation for your bridesmaids for making your big day a little more special.

PS: I’ve been shortlisted in the Company Magazine Style Blogger Awards and I would be eternally grateful if you would stop by their page and cast your vote – I’m in the Thrifty Blog category and I’d love it if you voted for me! Thanks so much 😀

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Wedding ideas – Choosing your bridesmaid outfits…

Choosing your outfits for your younger bridesmaids can be tricky & it’s hard to get outfits to match the dresses of your adult bridesmaids. So how about these gorgeous bridesmaid and flower-girl outfits featuring lovely puffy tutu-skirts – your child bridesmaids will feel like proper little princesses and will look super-cute in your wedding photos! Plus it’ll be a contrasting shape to the adult bridesmaids but can be colour coordinated to continue your wedding’s theme.

Check out Tutus, Wings & Pretty Things website for cute child size tutus for your bridesmaids both little and large – matching ruffle tutu skirts available in child and adult sizes!

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