A single mom with a strict budget has created Britain's most frugal Christmas tree — made from inflated rubber gloves.
Support worker Maxine Oliver, 23, said she faced a tough November with few shifts, and feared she may have to cancel Christmas altogether. But the mom-of-one came up with an ingenious way of keeping costs down and bringing festive joy to her family — with a handmade tree costing just 2 pounds, or around $2.50.
Oliver started on it when her son Charlie went to bed at 7.30 p.m. and worked right through until 5 a.m. It was made out of Oliver’s own medical gloves, along with ornaments made from cupcake cups found at the back of the cupboard, handmade Christmas presents decorated with candy wrappers, and hanging decorations made from paper and tin foil.
She said she hopes her innovative creation will show that people don’t have to spend thousands to get in the Christmas spirit.
“During November there weren’t many shifts that I could take. They were all 12 or 14 hours long, or were really early or late which just couldn’t work with my childcare arrangements," Oliver said.
“I got a bit behind on bills, so this month I had to catch up, and as a result there was no Christmas fund," she added.
"I got really upset for a week and told myself that I wasn’t even going to do Christmas this year. But then my stubbornness got hold of me and I decided we were going to have a Christmas no matter what.
"If I put my mind to something I tend to do it well."
Oliver says she wanted to get everything done by the time her son came down in the morning, so he wouldn't see the half-finished tree.
“His reaction was amazing, he was shouting ‘Christmas tree, Christmas tree,' pointing at it and screaming.”
Oliver, of Cornwall, England, has earned a bit of praise after sharing a picture of her tree on Facebook — and she's been shocked by the positive feedback she received. Oliver even had people offering her and Charlie gifts, though she says she would rather people donate them to charity.
“I haven’t had one negative comment and people have been so lovely," she said. “It has reminded everyone what Christmas is all about, and spread the mindset that you don’t have to spend loads of money to make Christmas special.
“It’s been a tough month but we can afford to put the heating on and have food in the fridge. Some people don’t have that.”
Oliver, however, points out that she took a zero-hour contract — in which work is not guaranteed — out of choice due to childcare issues.
“We have had a lovely time making our Christmas decorations and presents for everyone, and Charlie won't go without some presents this year as his family always gets him gifts every Christmas.
“I am so very grateful for everyone’s lovely gestures of kindness wanting to send us presents. But honestly, the best gift anyone could give us, is to donate the money they would have used to get us something, to a local charity in their area. Many people this Christmas don't have food, heating, housing or are spending their holidays in the hospital, and I would much rather the money goes towards making their day a little brighter.
“Our Christmas is a little hard, tight, and by no means perfect this year. But it is perfectly imperfect, and we are happy.”