Life

Marie Louise McConville: No gifts for kids at Christmas? No chance

Hollywood actors Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher have revealed they will not be buying their children any Christmas presents as they do not want them to get used to receiving extravagant gifts

So, how's your Christmas shopping going?

Whilst I don't want to cause any further panic or anxiety - after our frightful dalliance with Miss Ophelia this week - do you know it is just nine weeks until Christmas?

Nope, I'm not joking. Just take a deep breath.

Yes, I know we haven't even celebrated Halloween yet but it is what it is. December 25, 2017 is just over two months away.

So, after all the fences get repaired and the trampolines get recovered, writing your festive to-do list is your next task in hand.

Personally, I made a start a few months ago.

With so many three-for-two offers, 25 per cent off discounts and money off vouchers floating about, I tried to take advantage.

I am by no means finished and no doubt I will still be looking and buying on Christmas Eve.

But that's part of the fun, isn't it? Choosing gifts for loved ones and seeing their faces light up when they unwrap said present is just such a lovely feeling.

I've always been more of a giver than a receiver and at Christmas, bringing joy to others is all part of the festive experience.

And really, we should bear that in mind because it's not about how much we spend on another person or how many gifts we buy, it's the thought.

Of course, I know of two people who unfortunately won't be getting that festive glow this year.

Despite being multi-millionaires, Hollywood A-Listers, Mila Kunis and her husband Ashton Kutcher have revealed they won't be buying their children - three-year-old daughter, Wyatt and almost two-year-old son, Dimitri - any presents this Christmas, or any Christmas for that matter.

In a recent interview, 34-year-old Mila said that she and her husband did not buy gifts last year either.

They did permit their parents to buy the kids some presents however Mila and Ashton didn't like it and it was "too much".

Now the couple want their tradition to be no presents and have asked the grandparents to stick to one gift per child or make a charitable donation.

And the reason for this decision?

Well, Mila explained: "Yeah, we're not going to raise a**holes. There's enough a**holes in the world. We don't want to contribute".

Yes, the couple do not want their children to grow up used to receiving extravagant gifts each year so they've basically cancelled Christmas.

Oh dear.

What can I say?

What an awful decision.

I'm both dismayed and disgusted by the decision if I'm honest.

And, while I do not claim to be any kind of know-all parent (because I am far from it) I do know that it is not the buying of gifts which spoils children, rather the number of gifts.

I don't think there is anything wrong with buying gifts for children at Christmas and on birthdays, I just don't think we should go overboard.

Often, it is the children's excitement and anticipation ahead of Christmas that is the most fun part and then we have the wonderful memories which are created when they open the living room door on Christmas morning to find Santa has been. It's all so magical.

I don't care much for those parents among us who take time to post boastful photos on Facebook on Christmas Eve showing the huge amount of gifts they have bought their children. #spoiledmuch?

They should take the time to think about other parents who do not have the means of buying their children so many gifts.

I just feel sad for Mila and Ashton. Personally, I don't think taking Christmas away is the best way to go about not spoiling your kids but each to their own.

There is nothing wrong with buying a child some gifts at Christmas. Such actions will not spoil a child rather I think it is the number and type of gifts that we should be concerned about.

I really hope these guys reconsider in time for December 25 because the special family memories made at Christmas are like no other - especially that morning when sleepy heads suddenly burst awake with joy, and laughter fills the house.

Come on guys, one Grinch in this world is enough.

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Competition

It’s October folks and it’s cold and dark outside so that can only mean one thing – it’s almost Halloween.

If you’re trying to get prepared for a spooktacular October 31 this year, fear not, as Asda has got you covered for every type of scary soiree.

For starters, Asda will help you wish your guests a ‘bone-appetite’ with an array of ghoulish goodies.

From a ‘spook-tacular’ Pumpkin Smash Cake and indulgent chocolate Gravestone Traybake, to Asda’s Blood Orange Bucks Fizz for a tantalising tipple - Asda’s range of Halloween treats are so terrifically terrifying and delicious, that they won’t haunt kitchen cupboards for long.

As well as oodles of food for a frightful feast, George at Asda also has a fabulous range of spine tingling costumes for big and little kids alike – including its new family outfits.

So mum and dad can join in the fun and be a Ghostbuster, Vampire or Maleficent with their little ones.

Finally, make sure you set the scene for a night of frights with Asda’s range of decorations – guaranteed to wow your guests and keep trick or treaters entertained.

So don’t be a scaredy cat, get shopping.

And to help, I have three Asda £50 gift vouchers to give away to three lucky readers to help get Halloween sorted.

If you fancy winning a voucher, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to competitions@irishnews.com

Closing date for entries is Tuesday, October 24, 2017

(Q) What date does Halloween fall on?

Normal Irish News Rules Apply

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Competition

The winners of the Grand Opera House Swan Lake competition are Patricia McMurray, from Killinchy and Mary McKay, from Dromara

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Easy Peasy Recipe

This week’s Easy Peasy Recipe is Sweet Potato, Barley and Lentil Casserole

You will need:

2 onions, each cut into chunks

3 carrots, cut into chunks

3 celery sticks, cut into chunks

400g sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks

1L vegetable stock

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 leeks, thickly sliced

100g barley

55g lentils

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 apple, cored and sliced

3 tbsps parsley

To Make:

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.

Put the onions, carrots, celery and sweet potato in a large pot. Add the stock and bring to the boil.

Add the garlic, leeks, barley, lentils and sage and mix well.

Transfer to an oven-proof dish and cover. Cook for 30 minutes before adding the apple slices.

Stir and continue to cook for another 30 minutes.

Remove the casserole and sprinkle with the parsley to serve.

Do you have an Easy Peasy recipe you would like to share?

Are you the queen of quiches, magnificent at muffins or can you turn out some nice scones?

If so, then we want to hear from you.

You can send your name, address, contact number and recipe (plus photo if possible) to:

Easy Peasy Recipes,

Marie Louise McConville,

Irish News

113-117 Donegall Street,

Belfast,

BT1 2GE

or

m.mcconville@irishnews.com

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