Christmas gifting, can we do it differently?

Donna Willan Money cents

Christmas budgetWow, Christmas really is just around the corner! We spent this past weekend making Christmas crackers and cards, we put on the Christmas carols and the kids loved it! Yes, I hear you, this kind of Saturday fun often only works with young children; and I also respect that not all of us celebrate Christmas. But for those of us that do, I would like to challenge each and every person to do it differently this year. Consume less, spend less and find different ways to do Christmas gifting. (Of course this could apply to any holidays or celebrations).

So my beef is with the commercialisation of all holidays, and Christmas seems particularly guilty of this. Here are some of my thoughts about how we approach our Christmas budget.

Let’s start with the decorations. Yes, they can look beautiful, but you don’t need new decorations every year. Buy a few good quality ones, pack them away carefully and they will last for years (and its fun re-discovering them every year). If you do have kids, a few packets of crepe paper makes metres of chains to wrap all around the home – so pretty, and then afterwards you re-cycle!

Next up – the food. Why do we always over cater? I love a good feast, but we can have a great feast without loads of waste – so please cook less! And if you find you have too much, share it – most of us have a regular street guard/ patroller or car guard who would really appreciate it, so don’t just stuff food in your fridge until it has to be thrown away!

Presents. We all love getting gifts, it’s exciting and thrilling to wonder what is wrapped up in the bundle and we feel special that someone thought of us. And I love to give gifts. BUT, do we need so many presents? It would be so wonderful if we all bought less and bought with awareness (try to buy local, buy green, buy ethically). My personal favourite is the secret Santa idea – i.e. everyone brings one gift and then one person plays Santa and gives them out at random. Put a limit on how much people can spend i.e. R150. I also think it is so important to give our children less – most of us want to raise children who don’t over-consume, and are not greedy. If you give them too much they feel over-whelmed by it, and after a few years they begin to expect it.

So for me I am going to try: less commercialization (making our crackers, cards and decorations); delicious, local food, but not too much; and fewer, really heartfelt gifts.

And in my next column I’m going to continue the holiday theme, as most of us are probably looking forward to a bit of a well-deserved year-end break. I’ll look at how we can have fun without going into debt, and reflect back on a similar column earlier in the year and add some more thoughts.


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