Christmas is coming, and if where you are is anything like where I’m from, Christmas products have already started making their way to shop shelves!
If you celebrate Christmas or are even going on holiday around this time, it can be an expensive time of year. I’ve found it’s best to plan for Christmas early, and I’ll often save a lot more by doing so. Also, apart from a brief time during my teenage years when the sight of red and green everywhere made me feel nauseous, I’m really keen on Christmas (and probably every other type of celebration through the year!).
I’m usually fairly organised for Christmas and it’s largely because I’ve found it helps me shop less overall. I discovered that if I went shopping and just shopped for things for Christmas or upcoming birthdays then I’m getting a job done and also getting that little spark of joy when buying something for someone that I happen to think is incredibly lovely. I also try to make homemade gifts for others and this can require a bit of pre-planning too. However, in the beginning, I spent more than I saved using this approach because I kept buying little things here and there for Christmas and then when I added it all up, I probably had spent more than if I had just shopped once close to Christmas! So perhaps watch out for over buying too. I’m much less consumer-orientated now though so I’m shopping less generally which helps with not overdoing it.
While I think bought gifts are great, I have to say that my favourite gifts are often homemade. I love it when my family makes presents rather than buying them, and I get ridiculously sentimental over the time, effort and thought that went into making them. My husband will even make my cards every year instead of buying them because he knows how much I love them.
Some of the things I do to help prepare for Christmas are and would recommend:
- Keep a list of present ideas that you can add to during the year. You can refer to it before you start Christmas shopping.
- If at shops, think ahead about your Christmas shopping and only buy products on sale.
- Think ahead about homemade gifts that might take a while to prepare (e.g. growing plants, creating a scrapbook or photo album, making a Christmas cake*).
- Look at buying items second-hand when you feel it’s appropriate or when something would be better not purchased new (e.g. second-hand bikes, out-of-print books. This is an entirely personal decision regarding what feels right for you to buy second-hand). If you love buying second-hand items for environmental, financial or sentimental reasons I think that’s wonderful and I’m sure a lot of other people will too.
- Try not to buy ‘nice to have’ Christmas items if you can’t afford them and try to focus on the essential things you need to purchase/can afford. Try not to beat yourself up over what you can’t afford!
- Think about buying money-saving or time-saving gifts for others (e.g. my parents usually go out for a coffee date once a week so, for a recent birthday gift, I bought a discount coffee card that they can use each time they go out for coffee). You could create a voucher for something like gardening or babysitting that the recipient can redeem at a later time.
- If sending presents check Christmas postage dates and put these in your diary so you don’t miss them.
- If you’re traveling try to think ahead and secure the best deal you can on travel costs.
I also want to say I think the most important part of Christmas has nothing to do with gift-giving. Spending time with loved ones, contributing towards community Christmas spirit, and thinking about what Christmas is really about is something that I’m trying to focus on more now rather than getting lost in the consumerist aspects of Christmas. Whether you’re Christian and follow the meaning and values associated with the holiday, are celebrating another festival around this time, or are just enjoying spending time with others and having a relaxing break, your celebrations/activities do not need to center around spending a huge amount of money.
*I’ve never been a big fan of Christmas cake, and we also try not to consume much sugar, so I’ve never made a Christmas cake before. This year I’m planning to do some research to find a healthy and delicious (according to me!) version of Christmas cake and I’ll share the recipe in an upcoming post.