I loooooove Christmas, but at the same time I recognise that its a time of year when people have a tendency to get carried away and spend far too much money (often more money than they have) on gifts, food and decorations, much of which will either end up in the bin or unloved in a corner. Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert fame even started a campaign to ban Christmas presents, and while I wouldn’t go that far, I do want to minimise unnecessary spending and focus on the true meaning of Christmas (no, I’m not talking about Jesus’s birthday as everyone knows that was in July and was moved to December to replace the pagan festival of the winter solstice, which already contained most of the elements that we now think of as Christmas) – family and friends.
This year, I’d like the focus to be more of spending meaningful time with family and friends, enjoying conversations and fun times, rather than presents. I’m planning to make that happen by –
- Setting a spend limit for gifts of £5 for friends and family (and a bit more on my mum and dad). Some members of my family have even suggested not doing gifts at all which I think is great – after all – what is the point in us swapping £20 gift cards? I think a limit of £5 forces you to think creatively and focus in on what the recipient might like most, rather than letting the spending snowball. I also love the idea of doing a Secret Santa for family or groups of friends – I know of some families with kids who focus their budget on the children, and do a Secret Santa for the adults, which I think makes complete sense. Don’t be afraid to suggest a limit or a secret santa – I’m sure your friends are thinking ecactly the same thing!
- Making festive plans with friends and family – Since I LOVE this time of year so much, its really important for me to make the most of it and soak up every bit of Christmas cheer that I possibly can. This year, I’ll be attending a Christmas lights switch on, a few Christmas markets, a Carol service, and hopefully a few get togethers at friends houses in the run up to the big day, as well as galvanising my family into action rather than slumping on the sofa througout the holiday period.
- Make homemade presents – Doing it yourself is a sure fire way to save money, and everyone knows that homemade is best. Why not make a batch of Christmas cookies, Red Velvet Cupcakes or even peanut butter swirled brownies. These days its really easy to find cellophane gift bags, and you can even get them really cheaply in Poundland now! You can also buy cardboard and foil tray bake containers (from supermarkets, Wilkinsons, Poundland, and Lakeland), which are perfect baking brownies or flapjacks and then wrapping in cellophane, and a pretty ribbon and hand-written label.
You can also make lots of other kinds of homemade presents – here are a few great ideas (collect jam jars and small wine bottles throughout the year to serve as packaging for your gifts)
- homemade dog treats for the pet crazy
- custom made bath fizzes and bombs
- vodka spiked with their favourite fruit or sweets (Skittles vodka anyone?!)
- homemade flavoured olive oils
I FIRMLY believe that homemade gifts are extra special, even if it is things that they could have also bought in a shop – after all, you’ve spent your time and energy crafting something with love, just for them.