The run up to the festive season is in full swing, and whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule or any other event, I’m guessing the pressure is on. Right?
Of course there’s too much pressure, especially of the ‘spend, spend, spend’ variety, so here are a few things we’re doing here to keep in a healthier frame of mind and save a few quid into the bargain. Want to join in?
My festive mantras this year
These are phrases I’m supposed to meditate upon serenely, sitting atop a large fluffy cushion in my designer yoga pants and gently smiling to myself, whilst making ABSOLUTELY ZERO PLANS to send out a Goop-esque newsletter. However, you’ll be pleased to hear that they also work a charm when you’re stuck in the mile-long returns queue at a certain high street retailer, or pretending to be really, really busy in the kitchen while avoiding that sodding nasty drunk, Uncle Bob, and the rest of his spawn, etc etc.
In fact, they even work through gritted teeth, interspersed with the occasional Very Major Swear Word or four. Try it for yourself if you don’t believe me.
Give this year’s mantras a go!
Perfection is impossible. Good enough is good enough.
You can’t buy Christmas, you make Christmas.
This is what I’m doing, but if you want something special please bring your own.
I’m not putting this on the credit card unless I know exactly how I’m going to pay it off.
It’s just one day, it’s not worth seven months of being in debt.
Feel free to personalise and adapt these to suit your own situation, muttering them again and again under your breath until you feel the tension release and the festive fun returning.
For example: [MUTTERING] That’s right Great Auntie Mavis, if you want rum butter instead of brandy butter then please bring your bloody own! Ha! Hospitality and generosity is very important this time of year and all that, but so is not being a flipping annoying, ungrateful, fussy guest. Cuts both ways, Mave. ACTUAL SPOKEN VERSION: ‘This is what I’m doing, but if you want something special please bring your own.’
Think of the five mantras above as a happy-making festive selection box of goodies that you can pick and choose from at will. Most importantly you don’t have to share them with anyone, so you won’t be left with nothing but a couple of suspiciously dusty orange creams and a few empty paper cases. Seriously, why do people put the empty sweet cases back in the box? Just. No.
Where was I? Mantras. Yeah. Just pick one and stick with it. Maybe two.
Worried about money this Xmas?
On a more serious note, many of us are under severe financial pressure at the moment.
According to research by National Debtline, one in ten of us are feeling very stressed and worried about money in the weeks before Christmas this year, and about a third of us are planning on financing it by putting it on a credit card.
If things are tough and you’re losing sleep over financial worries, National Debtline have put together ‘Feels Like Christmas’, a stack of handy money tips and access to help and advice. Look out for the #FeelsLikeChristmas hashtag on social media or visit their website for some extra help.
10 thrifty Xmas reminders from me
Never hurts to have a quick refresh about all the important points, so here goes – and please add a few of your own in the comments if you think it could help someone else.
- It’s okay to keep it simple. There’s no point going over the top, especially if it’s likely to cripple your finances.
- Re-use and recycle. Old ornaments and decorations are often the best anyway.
- Homemade is great. Make the food from scratch, and consider making a few thrifty gifts and decorations as well.
- Don’t be a brand snob. Cheaper supermarkets and own-brand food and drink are just fine (and many win taste tests).
- Make a menu, be sure of guest numbers, and don’t over-buy on the food.
- Shop around for presents. There are lots of ways to compare prices and get extra discounts.
- Set a price cap for gifts for the grown ups, or do a secret santa or a communally-funded gift.
- Ask kids to rank their wish list in order of preference. It keeps expectations realistic without being too harsh.
- If you can hold your nerve, buy gifts in the week before Christmas to take advantage of late price drops.
- Concentrate on time spent together, rather than being materialistic. Most happy festive memories are about people, not things. Have a walk if the weather is good, or play party games.
That’s it from me for today, but I’ll be doing some more thrifty gift guides and supermarket food and drink picks very soon so look out for those.
Want to share any thrifty festive tips of your own? Please do. Let’s share the goodness around.