I thought I’d be original and write a money saving post about saving money at Christmas 95 days before the big man arrives rather than the usual 100 days before (no, I didn’t just forget).
A caveat – I absolutely adore Christmas. Mulled wine, carol services, scarves and boots and general merriment. None of this post comes from a bah-humbug place, I am Christmas’ biggest fan.
However. To me, Christmas is a season of goodwill, of celebrating being past the half way point of the winter, of giving and receiving (more on that later). I am not religious (if religion is your bag then you do you and I wholeheartedly support you whatever your belief) so to me Christmas is a time to hunker down and spend time with loved ones in the warmth, whether that be an open fire at a lovely pub or under blankets watching Christmas movies at home.
Nowhere in my dreams of Christmas do I see piles of crap, waiting to find a home somewhere in my already-cluttered house. At no point do I find myself wishing someone had bought me a Body Shop gift set. I’m almost 40 years old, if I want some mango-scented shower gel I’ll damn well get off my arse and go and buy some for myself. So this year, as always, I’ll be telling friends and family that I do not want a gift, and if they feel like they want to buy me something then a voucher for an experience (such as a trip to the cinema or a meal out) will be gratefully received. And I have no intentions of buying gifts for anyone who has their own income either.
It’s harder with kids, especially when they are bombarded from all angles with advertising and the possessions of their peers. Just last month on holiday my son saw a child playing with a DS, which he has now added to his Christmas list. So for him, we save throughout the year, we do online surveys that pay in Amazon vouchers and we explain that ‘Santa’ brings the stocking fillers but Mummy and Daddy pay for the bigger gifts. This way we hope he will understand that he can’t have every single thing that appears on screen during episodes of Phineas and Ferb. (We’ve also explained that anything from Ideal or John Adams is likely to be absolute tat, and he now, whenever an advert ends with ‘From Ideal!’, shouts “well it’ll be rubbish then!” Anti-marketing FTW!) He also has his birthday in January and for this we have planted the seed of an annual pass for Legoland – we’re just waiting for the pre-Christmas sale now before we buy them.
So, I ask you now – who will join me in celebrating an anti-consumerist Christmas? Who will be the first amongst your group of friends to declare “actually, you know what? I don’t really want a hastily chosen set of lip balms from the Boots 3 for 2 Christmas catalogue. How about we spend those tenners on sharing a bottle of wine and a bowl of chips instead?” I’m sure you will be thanked for it by everyone else feeling the pinch and, well, if your friend would rather have a pair of reindeer socks than an evening in your company, I’m not sure they’re worth having as a friend any more. Can anyone honestly say they can remember what their friend bought them for Christmas last year? And do you think you would have remembered it more if you’d spent that money on spending time together? I know I have much fonder memories of times spent with friends and family than of using a teatowel with Santa’s face on, as jolly as it is.