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When I started The Simply Small Life Blog it was meant to be a way of improving the content on my website, encouraging my customers to engage with my ‘brand’, blah, blah, blah, bla. But recently I’ve found my posts are becoming more personal, ranty and ‘public servicey’ I’m sorry about that! I do hope you enjoy reading them because I quite like writing them! If you don’t like them then please just scroll on and forget you ever clicked.

Anyway, this one is kind of related to The Simply Small Co and an issue that many parents face. The commercialisation of Christmas!

 Bad Santa

Now, I’m aware that I’m in danger of shooting myself in the foot here given that I run a retail business and right now is my peak time of the trading year. All of my marketing communications, special offers and social media are geared towards maximising Christmas sales. But I hope I have curated a collection of interesting, thoughtful, personal and inexpensive Christmas gifts that are geared towards ‘letting them be little’ and which my customers will love.

The reason that I’m about to get a bit ranty is that it seems that many businesses use the festive season to make a quick buck and think it’s totally acceptable to overcharge and provide a less than acceptable product or service.


This week, a DVD came home in my 3-year old’s nursery bag. From a company (who shall remain nameless) who provide a ‘CGI green screen’ festive film of your child dressed as Santa Claus plus the option to order an accompanying range of prints, keyrings and other useless items that you can buy for an extortionate price. I remember the nursery sending a letter home saying that this was taking place and if we had any objections to our child being in the film we had to opt out.

We didn’t opt out and we put the ‘preview’ DVD on last night. While it was undoubtedly very cute watching my toddler ski down a mountain chased by a snowman and gingerbread man, while a creepy looking clown talked to her, the production quality was absolutely appalling. My husband commented that he could have produced a better piece on his Atari back in 1987.

The DVD came with a helpful price list. £19.99 for a copy! And a politely worded note explaining that if we don’t return the preview, we will be charged. What the what???? Then the price list went on to include things like keyrings, additional prints, calendars, Christmas cards etc…. If we bought it all we’d be facing an almost £100 bill.

Will we buy the DVD? Of course we will! Mainly for the comedic value of showing it to the rest of the family on Christmas Day and because what are we meant to say to our daughter when all the other kids in the class start talking about their ‘special DVD’ and she hasn’t got one?

What annoys me even more is that we recently went to a FREE green screen CGI filming session run by Tyneside Cinema and the amazing Chalk, who create fun, immersive, accessible cultural events for young children and their families. The Star Wars themed session involved my kids pretending to be rebel fighter pilots, full of props and the production was absolutely brilliant! Why can’t Chalk come to my kids’ school instead of the frankly fly by night operation that produced ‘Little SS’s Christmas Adventure’?

I don’t know how these companies get away with it! It’s the same with school and nursery photographers. They charge a fortune for the prints and in seven years we have been subjected to it, I have yet to obtain a decent photograph of my children. What usually comes back is a picture of them with snotty noses, unkempt hair and pained expressions on their faces.Which drives me insane as I know how gorgeous they are (I’m totally not bias) and I know it’s not hard to get a smiley natural picture of them. And wipe their noses for crying out loud!

So, this year I put my foot down, I said NO to the school picture and instead, back in September I booked a session with my friends and local photographer Captured Photography. I paid a perfectly reasonable price for a session plus a cd of images of my children with tidy hair, neat uniforms and lovely natural shots which capture the essence of their being. Plus I hold full usage rights and can print lots of copies.

Little SS pictured by Captured. in a previous shoot. For privacy reasons I don't want to share the school shots.

I’m also planning an outdoor winter shoot soon with another friend of mine who runs Love in Focus Photography. Once again, I will be paying for a shoot which will be fun for my kids and I’ll end up with a set of beautifully natural and un-staged pictures that I know I will treasure.

Love in Focus Photography Love In Focus Photography

 Apologies once again for the rant but I hope you agree with the sentiment. It isn’t the season to get ripped off it’s the season of peace love and goodwill to all women and men. A time to celebrate and have fun and a time to choose to buy thoughtful and personal gifts for those we love not because we feel we must, but because we want to.

And the chance to legitimately get drunk in front of the kids during the day. Happy Holidays 😊

P.S – I have voiced my opinion to my children’s school too, just in case you thought I was a keyboard warrior. Xxx

Image Credits: Bad Santa   2003 Captured Photography and Love in Focus Photography.

The Simply Small Life Blog is a behind the scenes look at what goes into running an independent children's retailer. Written by Nat SS a North East Mam (#notamumpreneur) of two who founded and runs The Simply Small Co. All opinions are her own. Copyright of The Simply Small Co.

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