Whether you’re the type of person crossing the days off on the calendar until December, or the person who denies Christmas is coming until the week before, at some point you have to face the (ever-growing) list of people you need to buy gifts for.
Leaving all the gifts until the last minute won’t be good for your stress levels or your wallet. Were you already planning to get your shopping done on Christmas Eve? (I did that once – it was hectic but I was SO efficient.) Whatever your usual plan, you can’t deny that Christmas puts a certain amount of pressure on us… and our bank accounts.
So what do you do if you want to give your friends and family the world, but can’t afford it? It’s time to get creative. “Tis the season to be jolly” – not knee deep in your overdraft. The urge to spend all the money can be overwhelming, after all, how will your mates know you really care? Well trust me, they know. And perhaps they’re just as strapped for cash as you are? Put the feelers out on the WhatsApp group and suggest something a bit cheaper…
1. SECRET SANTA
An oldie but goodie. Team up to do secret Santa (whether in friendship group, workplace, or family). That way, you can focus on putting together one great gift instead of trying to stretch your purse too thin and buying pointless things that no one really wants or needs. Set a spending limit and away you go! Quality over quantity!
DIY gifts like coupon booklets, handmade crafts (all the Pinteresting) etc. can be such a lifesaver if you’re crafty and creative. Bake some delicious treats if you’re good in the kitchen or get out the sewing machine and make something thoughtful and personal. It always sounds like just something people say, but it really is true that most people appreciate the effort and love that went into their gift. Put together a scrapbook of photos and keepsakes, or record a video or song. Handmade beauties are also a winner for that friend who has everything.
Spend time together! Instead of gifts and cards, send out a Doodle poll and agree on a date (it’s so hard getting that one day in the diary where everyone is actually free). Cook dinner together, watch Christmas movies, and talk. Play board games/card games/drinking games – whatever the group enjoys. For bonus points, agree to put away phones. If you’re not big on cooking dinner and staying in, organise a festive day out – ice skating, watching a pantomime or show, or an event like Winter Wonderland. Memories are better than things.
4. SWAP IT
Hold a clothes swap/book swap/invent your own swap. Your squad is feeling the pinch this year? Gather together and swap things you don’t use anymore. If everyone’s into reading, wrap a book up and do a blind date with a book swap. You all wear similar sizes in clothes/shoes? Gather up some pieces from your wardrobe. That dress with the tags still on that you bought over a year ago? Get rid. The two-sizes-too-small jeans? You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. The top you wore once and forgot about? Give it away. Hold a swapping sesh in your living room – everyone goes home with something new. Giving a gift AND giving your stuff a better home. Beautiful.
5. DO SOME GOOD
Don’t forget about those who have less than you. Sure, you’re strapped for cash when it comes to buying Christmas gifts, but perhaps you could get your friends together and just do some good deeds? Give some of your time to charity over the festive period by volunteering and helping out at shelters and events. It feels good to make other people smile and spread some cheer!
Give an old winter coat to a charity collection (some cold person out there will be so thankful for that extra warmth!) Team together to have a clear out and donate old things to charities – giving feels good and helps you out with the bulging closet.
Christmas has this way of making us focus far too much on spending money. You don’t need piles of wrapped gifts on Christmas morning (and equally don’t need to take a photo of your giant gift pile for Instagram to make other people feel bad, Dudley Dursley). All you really need is to be surrounded by those you love, with a hot chocolate, Home Alone on TV, and a board game.
Bring on the Holiday season and some festive fun!
What do you do to keep to your budget at Christmas? Leave your tips in the comments below.