Hi everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t been posting much or commenting on my favourite blogs over the last couple of weeks. I was recently struck down by a hideous chest infection and head cold. It actually went on for 3 weeks but I battled through the first week before finally admitting to myself that I needed to rest.
This is where self employment isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I literally couldn’t muster up the energy to work for a couple of weeks and therefore I didn’t get paid for that time. December is the worst month to take a hit on earnings! Gah! Anyway, I’m back and just about over my illness now.
Today, I wanted to share my thoughts on spending at Christmas. I know every man and his blog will be writing a post about saving money at Christmas and not getting into debt and whilst this post will have a similar message, I want to inspire you not to get carried away with the whole gift giving extravaganza.
Before you say Bah Humbug, Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year, which stems from the fact that I was lucky enough to have many exciting Christmases as a child. I wasn’t spoilt as my family didn’t have much money to be honest. But my whole family got involved with the general build up of Santa’s impending visit. I have fond memories of decorating the tree with my mum and helping to make our home tinsel tastic!
My brother used to ring a bell outside my bedroom window on Christmas Eve – you can probably imagine my little heart beating rapidly with the thought of Santa and his reindeer landing on our roof! And yes, I was one of those kids who secretly peeled away the edges of their presents to see if I could get a sneaky peak. For me, Christmas was all about family gatherings, joy, the element of surprise and a little bit of magic.
As I grew older and started earning money, my Christmases got bigger and more expensive as I guess I wanted to carry on what I hoped was the magic of Christmas and gift giving really did make me happy. You can probably guess that I’ve gotten into debt over Christmas more than a few times. It’s only in recent years that I’ve realised bigger isn’t necessarily better!
It is lovely of course to be able to buy gifts for others and see their faces light up on Christmas day when they open their present. But here’s the thing. The gift giving part of Christmas really only lasts for a few hours, so is it really worth spending a ton of money on that tiny part of Christmas? Will you be buying presents just because you think it’s the right thing to do or because you’re trying to create a magical Christmas for your loved ones?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent many Januaries suffering from the January blues – and not just because it’s freezing and gloomy most of the time. But because I’ve been seriously out of pocket and trying to recover my finances too. Christmas shouldn’t be about having a financial hangover. It should be about creating amazing experiences and memories though. That’s what really makes it magical when you look back! And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make those memories happen.
Here are some ways you can enjoy the magic of Christmas without feeling the pinch and feeling guilty in January:
1. Stick to one gift per person
I’m not going to bore you about the importance of budgeting and prioritising at Christmas. That’s a no brainer and you’ll buy for who you want to buy for anyway right? But if you are going to spend money on someone special in your life, stick to one very thoughtful gift which will make the recipient clap their hands with joy – plan in advance and don’t panic buy on Christmas Eve!
2. Gifts for kids
It’s hard not to buy for the kids in your life. I struggle with this one as quite a few people I know who have kids always buy something for my daughter each year. I’d feel like I was being rude if I didn’t return the sentiment. How I handle this is by buying books. Reading can be magical and I’m a sucker for educational resources, so I love buying books for kids.
Books are precious! In today’s age where eBooks are taking over, I think it’s nice to buy a physical book for children that they can leaf through and enjoy. Even better if it will help them learn to read. In the UK, there’s a shop called The Works which has tons of kids books at 3 for £10.
3. Create Christmas magic for free (or next to nothing)
If you have kids, you can build up the whole Christmas experience so much and make it totally magical for all the family. With my daughter, I make reindeer food from porridge oats and glitter. We sprinkle it outside on Christmas Eve so that Rudolph will know where to land the sleigh! You can create a personalised video message for free from Santa with the Portable North Pole. Decorating the Christmas tree has to be one of the best experiences ever when you have kids. It’s just so exciting for them and one of the best memories you can form as a parent.
If you don’t have kids, you can still create some Christmas magic for yourself and your family and friends. What better time to get everyone together, drink some mulled wine and indulge in some delicious Christmas food and treats?
4. Save money by doing Secret Santa
Nip any overspending in the bud at work by doing a collective Secret Santa. You pick out a name for one of your colleagues and buy that person a surprise gift for just £5. No need to worry about buying for your boss, unless you’re unfortunate enough to pick your boss’s name out. It’s happened to me twice! You could even do this if you have tons of friends – get them all together and explain the merits of Secret Santa. It’ll save you a fortune and it’s fun, especially as there’s always one person who’s just desperate to know who their Secret Santa is and they’ll stop at nothing to find out!
5. Make Christmas beautiful
Much of the beauty and magic of Christmas is in setting the scene – it’s all in the detail. Make your home a wonderful Christmassy and cosy place to be. Decorations, scented candles, Christmas puddings, mulled wine, mistletoe and Christmas crackers all add to the effect. Put a sheet of wrapping paper over the doorway to the room where your Christmas tree is for some giggles and excitement on Christmas morning. Create a playlist of Christmas songs for when you and your family open gifts or eat Christmas dinner. A great way to save money on Christmas dinner whilst still creating some magical memories is by getting everyone to bring something to add to the feast!
Make Christmas magical this year by creating memories for yourself and others around you. Don’t get suckered in to all those ‘deals’ in the shops this year and buy presents just for the sake of it. Have a guilt free January instead!
How do you make Christmas magical? If you have any suggestions, please feel free to add them below in the comments!
*Image sourced from Flickr
I agree. I just gave up the thought that I can save as much as I did last month. That being said, I am willing to sacrifice this month for the spirit of Christmas. I am done with the Christmas list and I am strictly sticking to each gift for each person on the list. I also included the budget range, just to be reminded.
Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted…What Life Insurance Policies Won’t Cover
Christmas is not one of my favorite times of year so I don’t experience a lot of the highs and lows a lot of people do. Mine is usually very calm and relaxing, and I don’t really guy gifts (except for one gift for an adopt a family program). I do think people go way overboard, even when it comest to holiday invites. They run themselves ragged and get burned out. I like the pretty lights and the smell of Christmas candles…that’s pretty much it. 🙂
Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Movies That Inspire
This year I’ve definitely calmed down a lot with all the Christmas hype and I feel much better about the holidays. I’m determined to not be stressed out with gift giving and I’ve created a reasonable budget and left it at that. I’m focusing more on holiday traditions, creating memories and just relaxing. I love being home in the winter and I just want to make it a fun and laid back time for my family. I also made reindeer food with my son last year and it was super fun. Holiday crafts are the best!
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Hope you are feeling better! Gifts are just one part of Christmas, the decorating, the movies, the music, the food, and the time with family all make it special too.
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I’m sorry to hear you’ve been on under the weather, Hayley. It’s always tough when you get sick, especially during such a busy (and expensive) time. I agree wholeheartedly that Christmas should be about the magic, not how much you spend. My favorite Christmas memories are our family traditions and many of them don’t cost a penny … and a lot are around anticipation, which is part of the fun and magic.
Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted…5 Holiday’s Do’s that Put You on the Nice List
The secret Santa is the best Christmas idea, maybe ever. I wish it were more broadly applied: like families would participate, and everyone would get just one gift. We could up the dollar amount to say, even $100 or $200, so everyone got a really nice present, but we collectively would spend so much less and maybe even treasure our gift more.
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I try to stick to one gift/person for my immediately family and close friends, but sometimes I get carried away. I just get so excited and sometimes that leads to extra spending on gifts.
Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore recently posted…Trying Out Full Time Freelancing
First off, I hope you’re feeling better!!! I love your Christmas guidelines. My family and I have decided to make this year stress-free, so we are doing minimal presents and all the get-togethers are laid back and casual. I’m looking more forward to Christmas than ever. It’s about being together for the holidays.
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