Feeling freaked out about your bank balance as we head into Christmas? We’re here to help!
Ok, first things first, this year is going to be a tough ride for a lot of people when it comes to the money front. So, if you’re staring down the silly season with a shoestring budget, know that you’re really, truly, not alone.
The stress of Christmas when you’re light on funds stems from the desire to be generous – to let those close to you know how well you know them and care for them.
You don’t need me to tell you that you don’t need to use material items to demonstrate that love and generosity. We all know that intrinsically, but it doesn’t stop the ‘want to be able to turn up to family Christmas with something other than a box of Roses for 20 people’ feeling.
The best way to manage this situation is to be honest with the whanau. If you’ve had a tough year (who hasn’t?!), they’ll probably already be aware that times are a bit tighter anyway. So, how can you still be the centre of festive fun without spending a whole heap of money?
1. First, it’s all about attitude. Your family, especially kids, will pick up on any sad emotions, so go into the day with the biggest smile you can possibly muster.
2. Offer your services for gifts. Your brother who’s just had a baby? Print out vouchers for babysitting. Tell your mum you’ll treat her to a special lunch next year. Treat your god kids to an “adventure day” – a picnic at the beach, followed by a scavenger hunt in the bush.
3. An oldie but a goodie, but bring back Secret Santa. One gift only – it saves time and money. Plus, you can actually put some thought in!
4. Make presents – I know this sounds like a lot of effort, but it really is a cost-effective way to gift on a larger scale, as well as do it with a bit of heart. Here are some ideas we’ve had a go at! (Honestly, they look good, and even WE can make them!)
5. If you still have your heart set on a full pile of presents under the tree, adopt the ‘Need, Want, Read, Wear’ philosophy – get your kids to write their list to Santa under four categories, and say they’ll get one present under each.
6. Start a different tradition. Do you usually do the whole elaborate lunch thing? Maybe this year, it’s a picnic on the beach, with sandwiches, salads and muffins, rather than turkey and ham. Can’t afford the good bubbles? Buy the cheaper stuff and add orange juice – instant mimosa. And if you need to fill in the time with something free, start a charades/sport/board game challenge that can be contested every year.