The festive season seems to arrive earlier and earlier every year. Just when you thought Christmas was only weeks ago, suddenly it’s only weeks away! While children may be counting down the days, Christmas for many adults can be a difficult time.
The stress involved in organising and preparing meals, buying gifts or arranging a Christmas party, and the expectations particularly, this year after so many have been apart for so long, can have the opposite effect to what most of us would like to achieve at this time of year. And the financial anxiety that can eventuate when credit card bills arrive in January can be a most unwelcome reminder.
Now more than ever it’s also important to remember that Christmas is not just about gift-giving, it’s about finding time for others and the joy of connection.
The good thing is that you get another chance each year to do things differently so you can have a different and much better Christmas this time around. Here are some ideas:
- Create a Christmas budget. It’s a good idea to start a Christmas savings account early in the year that relieves the financial pressure. But if you worry about spending too much, suggest changes to the way that you and your family or friends exchange gifts—perhaps giving to children only, buying gifts under a set figure, or buying for just one person each in the group (aka ‘Secret Santa’). An even better habit is to leave your credit card at home when you go shopping. By taking only cash you will be sure to stay within your limits.
- Start shopping for gifts early. Any benefits of “retail therapy” are soon lost as we push through overcrowded shopping centres looking for the perfect gifts for our loved ones. If you have left your Christmas shopping too late, make a list of the gifts you need in advance so you don’t waste precious time “browsing” or exceed your budget. Or maybe do most of your Christmas shopping from the comfort of home – go online!
- Give the gift of time. Think about whether this year you could perhaps consider giving home-made gifts, or if you are able to offer your time in other meaningful ways.
- The alternative – post-Christmas sales Maybe not the best option for kids, but instead of buying gifts before Christmas pop a pre-paid voucher in a card giving your adult family and friends the option to choose their own gift from the Boxing Day or New Year sales. This helps you stick to your budget and your dollar will go further.
- Share the joy and the load. If family or friends are coming to your house for a Christmas meal, share tasks with your guests rather than doing everything yourself. Ask everyone to bring a plate to create a buffet-style meal. Arrange an activity that will help everyone to enjoy their time (such as backyard cricket or pool games). Games that can be played at the table may help to avoid any problems caused by difficult family relationships.
- Swapping a Christmas getaway It is said that a change is as good as a holiday, so if you’re yearning to get away from it all this Christmas but think you can’t afford it, why not house-swap for the holidays? There are plenty of services available. Type “house swapping services” into your favourite search engine. The opportunities are enormous!
Like anything, when you plan ahead, you remove a lot of the pressure… Christmas is no different.