How to have Christmas on a Budget
So what are your children getting for Christmas? The Xbox 360 Kinect, or the Sony PlayStation Move? Maybe the VTech Kiddizoom Video Camera, or the
Or perhaps none of the above. You might love to buy them for your children, but you simply can’t afford it.
If the expense of Christmas is getting in the way of your seeing it as a joyous family occasion, it might be time to reconsider your child’s ‘needs’. What can you do to create a happy Christmas on a budget?
· Ditch the guilt. TV ads will tell you exactly what your child should have this Christmas. And your child will probably pile on the guilt by telling you that ‘everyone else’ is getting these things. Try not to be swayed by this – it’s not true! Remember last year, when that ‘must have’ toy was abandoned by 1st January, and has gathered dust on the shelf ever since?
· Keep it simple. Your children, like mine, probably enjoy the wrapping more than the gift. My son loved to chew the wrapping paper when he was tiny, and then progressed to sitting in a box, or bashing it, or scribbling on it. So for young children, buy (or bring down from the loft!) a great big box, fill it with blown-up balloons and wrap the whole thing in Christmas paper. Toddlers will love the playing with the box and jumping in the balloons.
· Use charity shops. The recipient doesn’t need to know where the present came from, so long as it’s in good condition. You could pick up a lovely gift for under a fiver; it’s sometimes brand new and might have cost five times that amount.
· Click and search. Go online to compare prices, so that if there’s one specific present you really want to get, you can buy it where it’s cheapest. You might find great differences in price.
· Cost doesn’t count. Love isn’t expressed by the amount of money you spend. A child needs to know their true likes and dislikes have been taken into account, and this could mean a gift that’s not expensive. When my teenage son took up the guitar, we bought him a guitar stand, some new strings, and a Beatles song book, which cost under £15 altogether. I wrapped them all separately, and included wrapped chocolates inside each parcel - he was thrilled.
· Be creative. I’ve knitted jumpers for my children, particularly ones with a logo or character that’s contemporary. A friend who is good with wood made her children a garage one year and a doll’s house the next. Your child will appreciate something that’s been made with love, especially for him/her, rather than something they have ‘told you’ to buy.
· Plan ahead. Buy bargains as you see them, throughout the year. This spreads the cost, and it also means you can pick things up cheaper than they would be in December. Keep this in mind for next year!
· Save the pennies. Another one for next year … As Christmas draws nearer, set yourself the challenge of not buying that coffee on the way to work, or walking rather than taking the bus, and put aside the money you would otherwise have spent. That can be your child’s Christmas pot! The money you need for a particular present will accumulate bit by bit.
· Thinking about others. As a family, you could sponsor a child in another country, or find a similar way to help your children realise that others have much less than they have. This might turn their eyes outward and make them realise how much they’ve got – even without that expensive present!
Happy Christmas – and have fun!
One way to help others in need at Christmas is to fill a shoebox for the Team Hope, Christmas Shoebox Appeal.
On R238 from Derry to Buncrana at Tooban, Burnfoot
Republic of Ireland F93 XY65