The festive season has always been a double edged sword for me. Family is very important and I love the closeness, the good spirits and positivity that this season brings.
However I hate the guilt of not spending enough, spending too much, having to buy more, do more and live large to make it special for everyone.
This year I am trying to do this differently and not end up with the post season hangover of financial woes.
I have searched the web for all the workable ideas I could find and hope you also find these useful.
Change your attitude around what money means
Giving is not about living up to some picture of success and hype. It is about celebrating the season and showing someone that you care. Two things that don’t essentially require money to be spent.
Money is a hugely loaded issue and combined with the expectations we place on ourselves to have an “advertisement worthy” Christmas we can lose sight of the big picture and what Christmas really means as opposed to what the gift we give means. “ I am cheap”, “I am generous”, “I am successful” and the best “ I am such a thoughtful (read expensive) gift giver” doesn’t at any point envisage that you really care for the person that you are giving to and that the gift is simply a token of the feelings that you have for them.
Share experiences not things
Christmas is beginning to start earlier and earlier each year. The Halloween things have barely disappeared from the shelves and the tinsel, panettone, and other gift ideas move in accompanied by the repetitive Christmas Jingles.
It is a full on commercial affair.
And we have let ourselves get sucked into the hype. In talking to my children about the festive season I realise their concept of Christmas is that this is a time for gifts and getting.
I have no one to blame but myself as I have always been driven to give them the best Christmas ever and that translated into spending a lot of money, getting very stressed and short tempered and then buying them more out of the guilt of ruining the spirit. Bah humbug. What a Christmas Grinch I was! I totally lost the true picture myself and now find the task of awakening us all to the Christmas spirit again more than a bit daunting!
One suggestion I came across in my search for Christmas salvation was to make Christmas more about experiences as opposed to things and I think that is going to be my catalyst for opening our eyes to the true spirit of the season.
I am going to try and spend more memorable time with them and be less overwhelmed because I am not going to be facing the mountain of stress over trying to buy them everything they want which means more patience, less temper.
This year is going to be about making memories to make me smile well into the New Year and future and not post Christmas nightmares as I face a huge credit card bill. Hopefully we will all come out the other side with a more balanced idea of what Christmas is about.
Create a budget and stick to it
Be realistic in the planning. There is no point in creating a budget and not being able to stick to it. In fact that is probably as stressful as having no budget at all because now you have the added ammunition to beat yourself up about failing at that as well!
Sit down and list all the things that you usually end up spending on around Christmas as well as the ideas around what you want to gift. Cost up this list and check it twice. Then get to work on paring it back.
Look out for offers and sales
There are suggestions around starting to shop early and being organised (I know because I have used these suggestions myself), but if you are anything like me that is never going to happen. The second prize is to settle for starting as early as is feasible for you and look out for opportunities to get discounts and offers. The key here is to not get stressed about this. Keep to the core message that the festive season is not only about giving gifts, and remember it is sharing in the good feelings and fun the season brings. Don’t let the stress over shopping, gifts and spending diminish that for you.
Don’t forget those less fortunate
Spread the Christmas cheer by giving to those less fortunate. Be it your time, the things you have accumulated and don’t use or by donating.
Even better why not agree with your family to gift them a donation on their behalf to some cause you know would be meaningful to them.
I know this sounds like more stress and overwhelm to add to your already busy plate. But this is one of the things that will bring you the greatest joy and fulfilment over this season and isn’t that what the festive spirit is all about?
The festive season is about reconnecting with those we love and sharing in the positive festive spirit. We are more likely to enjoy this experience and minimise stress if we realistically plan our spending and find ways to give that are about more than the monetary value of the gift.