I know Christmas is meant to be the season of goodwill, but just remind me where exactly in the Christmas story does Joseph jump on a donkey, ride to the nearest BHS (Bethlehem Home Stores) and max out his Galilee Bank credit card with novelty ties (for the shepherds) and tooth mugs (for the wise men)?
Whether or not you’re religious, you’ll probably agree the commercialisation of the festive season rings hollow. I’ve been checking out the statistics on Christmas spending and am horrified. Most of us loathe Christmas shopping with a vengeance, and yet according to the British Retail Consortium households spend an average of £975 on Christmas. Other stats claim individuals spend an average of £706. How ridiculous is it to fritter away effectively one month’s mortgage payment on two days of the year?!
I’m so appalled that I am taking a frugal stand. This year I’m with Scrooge!! My plan is to spend as little on Christmas as possible, but, unlike our grumpy Ebenezer, without compromising our enjoyment of it.
In pre-frugal days I used to budget roughly £20 per present, maybe £30 for parents and occasionally higher for the man in my life. So with about 13 presents to buy – this includes my Mum’s birthday in December – this would set me back at least £260, and up to £320 if I spent £50 on DJ, £30 on parents and Mum’s birthday and £20 on the others. That’s even before you’ve shelled out for Christmas parties, Christmas outfits (well, you always treat yourself, don’t you?), and Christmas food. So it’s easy to see how you could spend £700.
This year, to paraphrase Gordon Gekko, my Scrooge-is-Goodplan is to reduce this spend to £5 per present, or less or nothing at all. £5 a present would mean spending £65 altogether. It’s much better than last year’s total but I’d be happier if it were less. But to get the figure down will mean scouring the sales, charity shops and school fetes, ‘re-gifting’ (ie. digging out unwanted presents and brazenly giving them to someone else) or making presents yourself. Fortunately I’ve learned to make beaded jewellery this year and have rediscovered my – primitive – knitting skills. Let’s hope my friends & family aren’t bored of beads and scarves!
My parents could be the most difficult to tackle. Dad is fond of expensive books and gets upset if he thinks the present isn’t exactly what he wanted. While Mum doesn’t like second hand clothes. DJ is, however, great to buy for because he’s not into presents at all. He’d be happy enough with a good book from a charity shop for Christmas, bless him. Unfortunately I take after Dad and spend time counting the presents under the Christmas tree that are for me! I will be endeavouring to overcome this shortcoming this year…
The Scrooge Christmas Plan doesn’t have to Scrooge on Christmas spirit – surely lovingly making a sweater for somebody (even if one arm is longer than the other…) means a lot more than an expensive gift that was bought begrudgingly and with half a thought? Wish me luck!
Got any ideas for inexpensive Christmas gifts? Let me know!