‘The way you spend Christmas is far more important than how much’ – Henry David Thoreau
How true is that? It’s so easy to get caught up in the consumerism around Christmas, so that we sometimes forget that it isn’t what we spend in terms of money but how we spend our time that really matters. In these times of increasing food prices, rising utility bills, mortgage rate hikes and companies going bust, many of us are reigning in our spending on a day to day basis. But suddenly Christmas comes along and sense can go out of the window. We want the best for our family and friends and many of us will go into debt rather than cut back on food for the table, presents for our loved ones and decorations for our houses.
So what can we do to still have a great Christmas but without spending lots of money? Well, here are a few suggestions . . .
Give the gift of time – instead of buying a present, we can gift our time to do a particular job for someone. Maybe babysitting or a couple of hours of gardening, there are plenty of things we can all help out with depending on our own particular situation and that of the recipient.
Or how about a visit to somewhere you know they’d like to go? It’s possible to buy gift certificates which you can fill in yourself and hand to the person so they still have something to open on Christmas Day.
Create a gift – we may not be the most talented knitter or jewellery maker but we can all create something! There are plenty of how-to videos on YouTube for a whole range of things. Any imperfections will add to its homemade beauty and the recipient is bound to be touched by the time we took to make it.
Plant up a pot – there are plenty of beautiful planters around at this time of year but sometimes it can be cheaper to make them up ourselves. Bulbs which will look lovely in the spring, some greenery and one or two statement plants can be a really effective arrangement and will keep on giving for months to come.
Try out a recipe – whether we think we can bake a cake or not, most of us can follow a recipe to create some simple cupcakes or muffins. Placed in a pretty tin, they could be a real winner!
Try Secret Santa – if there are a group of friends or lots of family members who normally all buy for each other, a secret santa can be great, meaning that we only buy one present instead of several. Make sure you set a budget though! The one present might be more expensive and more thought about to match the recipients tastes but it will be a lot cheaper than buying for everyone.
When buying for young kids remember that they often love the wrapping just as much as what’s inside! For slightly older children, they may like to get lots of presents but they don’t have to cost the earth. For teenagers, ask what they’d like within a fixed budget rather than buying things that might never get used and are just a waste.
Remember it’s not about the money! Sometimes we feel pressured to spend a certain amount because we know the recipient will spend that on us or because that’s what we have always spent but Christmas shouldn’t be about how much we spend, it really is the thought that counts.
Sometimes it’s the choosing of a present which is the difficult part so is there anything you can do to help others to feel less stressed over the festive period. With one of my friends we go out for a lovely meal at Christmas rather than buy each other presents. It’s not necessarily cheaper but we both enjoy it and it takes the pressure off what to buy. Money (or the lack of it) is a big stress point right now but worrying about what to buy can be stressful too.
So the tiny tweak? Well, I think this week it’s about really thinking about our gifting and why we spend what we do. Even if we can afford it, are we creating expectations or stress for the recipient? Let’s all take the time to think about what we do and why and see if we can create a happier, easier Christmas for ourselves and our loved ones.
Until next time xx