I enjoy Christmas – I am no bah humbug sort of person. I love the little treats and outings that cheer up the short dark days, the sparkly lights, the presents and the carol services. However, I can’t stand the sheer over indulgence that this involves for some people. I do not believe that spending hundreds or even thousands on presents, clothes and parties makes it a special time. Watching people fighting each other during the obscene Black Friday buy-athon made me feel sick.
My daughters have always had plenty of nice Christmas presents; enough to feel they have been given some things they really wanted that they will treasure and look after but not so much that they get bored opening them. I usually buy them a main gift, then things like books, pyjamas, sweets, underwear, games and the odd CD or DVD. This year they have a cash limit to choose some particular items for me to purchase for them, and I have bought a few little surprise bits and bobs too.
I no longer buy for all of the adult members of my family. I am one of 4 and we all have partners, so where do you stop? Instead we do a secret Santa, and just buy one nice gift for the name we pull out of a hat. We buy for anyone under 18 who is not in full time employment as well. After that they go into the Secret Santa. It takes the pressure right off!
I don’t buy gifts for friends. Again, where do you stop?
One time, shortly after I had separated from my ex-husband, I made the mistake of not being organised and saving money for Christmas. Instead I bought all my gifts on a credit card. The Classic Error. The Thin End of the Wedge. I will never do that again, as I was still paying it off months later and then had no contingency fund to pay for some other unexpected bills and they went on the card too. I still have a small amount on a credit card, but I also have a (admittedly small) fund for Christmas, birthdays and emergencies. As I get more organised I hope to increase the size of this fund so that I never have to resort to a credit card again. In the meantime it is a useful fall back and I am disciplined enough to only use it very occasionally as a last resort.
Dinner will be nice but not lavish. In the end it is just a fancy roast, isn’t it? I would love to host some Christmas parties but really don’t have the budget for that.
I am also hoping for a green Christmas: I will be carefully folding any undamaged wrappings and collecting gift bags and boxes for reuse; the turkey carcass will be made into stock and any left over food frozen or made into soup. Anything else that can be reused or recycled, or even composted, rather than thrown in the bin will be.
I don’t have time nor talent to hand make all my gifts and decorations at minimal cost, although I love seeing them on Pinterest. I am fascinated to read about how other frugal and creative types make amazing things for pennies.
I will get out my 10 year old tree and put up some decorations and a few lights. But I will resist putting up a ladder and smothering the outside of my house with them. I don’t need to pay to light up the whole street!!