Do you realise that the average Canadian will be spending $1300 per person this Christmas? Think about that. For a family of four, based on this figure, the Christmas expenditure could be over $5000, just for two days a year! Why does our budget get so out of control?
Does any of the following seem familiar to you?
- Buy a gift for every member of your immediate family
- Buy an extra gift, for when you need it to give to someone who unexpectedly gives you a gift
- Buy fresh produce that you wouldn’t normally buy because – well they are Christmassy! Dates, nuts, citrus, – and watch them all go uneaten.
- Buy food enough for 20 people when you are only expecting 10 – well, you are supposed to pig out at Christmas aren’t you?
We seem to lose our common sense at this time of year. Maybe it’s because we are bombarded by advertising and marketing; children screaming about having the next ‘must-have’ item because their friends are getting it; pressure to make this the best Christmas ever and to do that we have to have things; too many lights on the house so the power bill goes through the roof!
Is there a solution? Well, yes, but it is not easy and it requires imagination, planning, boundaries and will-power. There are plenty of ideas out there and not all will work for you, but maybe one will. Implement that and then do it again next year incorporating a new idea along the way.
Consider some of these options that I have seen suggested:
- You really do not have to send a Christmas card to everyone in your family or in your office. You really do not have to return a card with another card. Scrutinize, and radically cull, your card list.
- Only buy for the children in the family. You might have to organise a family discussion about this very early in the year to make this work, and then work on reminding everyone as you get closer to the holiday. (OK if you are fortunate/unfortunate enough to have someone whose birthday lands within the Christmas period, I would suggest you don’t forgo their birthday present!)
- Do you normally make cakes, jams, chutneys or knit, sew etc? Consider giving these instead of buying. A homemade present, lovingly created, can be more appreciated because of the uniqueness and individuality of it. Mind you, if you don’t normally make these things then to include them in your planning might cause more stress and strain than to not do them.
- Consider not actually giving wrapped presents at all. There are plenty of charities out there who are offering ‘gifts’ such as giving a cow/chickens/goat, wells for water, sponsoring a child. For a few years in a row, I’ve used this option with my uncles and their family.
- Only buy the food that will be eaten. The shops will only be shut for a couple of days at the most. Don’t buy for a whole week.
- If you have several families coming together on one or two days, why not share the responsibility for both buying and cooking the items. One person deals with the turkey, another the veg, another the dessert etc. I’ve taken advantage of this for several years now.
- Give of your own time. Why not give away a ‘gift certificate’ gifting your time to do the garden, or babysitting, or cook a meal.
What do you think? Have you tried any of these?
Do they work? Any more ideas?