Marie Louise McConville: Even the most organised Christmas planners will be feeling the pinch this year

The cost of Christmas has soared this year with many people under pressure to find the funds for that all-important expensive gift
The cost of Christmas has soared this year with many people under pressure to find the funds for that all-important expensive gift

So, how organised are you then?

With 73 sleeps to go until the big fella in the red suit pays us a visit, the countdown has begun.

Not to boast, but I bought my first Christmas gift back in June.

At the time, my gal pals and colleagues laughed at me but hey, organisation is my middle name.

That said, no matter how sorted you are, nothing will have prepared you for the price of things this year.

It’s Santa I feel sorry for the most.

I sure hope he has deep pockets for all the supplies he needs to buy for his workshop this year to make those most sought after toys.

Part of me wouldn’t mind the high prices so much if the toys weren’t so small and boring but everything this year seems so tiny with oodles of fancy packaging - just a waste.

A few weeks ago I braved a well publicised toy sale.

I made sure I got there super early and was actually first in the queue.

Within minutes, a long line of mostly mums and grannies snaked around the block, each with a detailed list in their hands.

The lady behind me was telling how her daughter is really into a certain brand of doll and only a few days earlier, she had spent £400 pre-ordering a new doll house and bumper surprise pack from the range.

She was there that day to buy another few items for her daughter before starting to shop for her other children.

I couldn’t believe it.

I mean, was Christmas always this expensive?

I suppose when we are children we don’t think about how much it cost Father Christmas to make all the presents.

It's maybe just me but I don’t think there is ever any justification for charging £250 for a doll's house. Is there?

Chances are it will be played with a few times before it ends up abandoned in the corner gathering dust.

And something definitely needs done about all the toy ads on television.

It’s all too much and it’s leaving parents under pressure to buy that must-have toy.

I know I’m certainly seeing an increase in prices this year and that’s why I’ve had a word with Santa to inform him that the number of gifts coming to our house this year will definitely be less.

It’s time to remind children of the true meaning of Christmas.

So this year, it's all about a different type of LOL - Less On Lists and Lots Of Love.


X-Factor fans will be glued to their sofas this evening as the show makes a welcome return - but not as we know it.

After saying the tired format needed a revamp, Simon Cowell has come up with an altogether new singing contest, featuring a cast of celebrities who will vie to win a record deal.

Several Love Islanders, Martin Bashir, Ricki Lake and Brendan Cole are among those who have signed up.

As well as Cowell, Louis Walsh and former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger will be on the judging panel.

I don't think I'm completely sold but let's see how it goes.



If the dark nights have left you down and dreary, how do you fancy winning a "beautiful, evocative love story"?

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan has been described as a "brilliant novel".

Paris, today.

The Museum of Broken Promises is a place of wonder and sadness, hope and loss.

Every object in the museum has been donated - a cake tin, a wedding veil, a baby's shoe.

The museum is a place where people come to speak to the ghosts of the past and, sometimes, to lay them to rest.

Laure, the owner and curator, has also hidden artefacts from her own painful youth.

Prague, 1985.

Recovering from the sudden death of her father, Laure flees to Prague.

But life behind the Iron Curtain is a complex thing: drab and grey yet charged with danger.

Laure cannot begin to comprehend the dark, political currents that run beneath the surface of this communist city.

Until, that is, she meets a young dissident musician.

Her love for him will have terrible and unforeseen consequences.

I have five copies of The Museum of Broken Promises to give away.

If you fancy winning a copy, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to

Closing date for entries is 12Noon on Tuesday, October 15, 2019

(Q) Who wrote The Museum of Broken Promises?

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The winners of the Hudson's Kill competition are Michelle Downey, from Lurgan, Gabrielle Daly, from Armagh, Colette Donnelly, from Belfast, Damien Graham, from Randalstown, and Mark Breen, from Ballinderry