Few things in life can be as stressful (or as frustrating) as Christmas.
Be it because you have a big family, a stressful work life, life dramas or whatever, the commitment to deal with the festive season makes you realise that you have to be more efficient with your time and money – and often both.
Just see it as an opportunity for you to put your best foot forward – both in the sense of being resourceful (and so become less of a consumer - yay!) and make the world a better place. And so, in the spirit of making Christmas better for everyone - here is your personal guide on how to do it.
THE TIME VS. MONEY CONUNDRUM
Firstly, you have got to assess the Time Vs Money situation – how much money do you have and how are you going to make it stretch the distance? Can you plan a budget – even as rough or little as it is? Even a rough guess for a present or Christmas season budget is fine – just commit to a realistic amount and stick to it!
Such a commitment will go a long way to allowing you to leave money for later and not relying on credit or remaining broke. It is always good to have some money for boxing day or the New Year. If your festive season includes presents and food, make a budget for both and factor in realistically what you can make and what you can’t.
It will also make you stronger when you are at the shops and tempted to buy just one more (possibly meaningless) present. You can reassure yourself that you have thought this through and don’t need to do ‘panic shopping’. (And yes- most of us have been there.)
THE FREE STUFF AROUND YOU
Believe it or not everyone has several sources of free stuff without knowing it. Be it those bottles of wine you keep for a rainy day, jars of jam that you make, fruit trees heavy with fruit, even frequent flyers points or flybuy points you have accumulated can be helpful – we all have some sources of simple gifts that are manageable. This is not to mention the effective but possibly dodgy ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ deals (which often lead to buying more than you need).
If you have a talent at knitting, brewing, woodwork, ceramic, jam-making, or anything gift-able then you will be able to give gifts easily but also no one will say no to homemade biscuits, cake, chocolates or slices. Mini-fruit puddings also work well, as do any homemade marzipan sweets or breads. Even Bunting or home-sewing stuff will be popular.
SERVICE VOUCHERS FOR TEENAGERS
While it may seem daggy, gifts of your time, such as ‘voucher for one-hour driving lesson’ or one-hour Spanish class or any skill which other people may want will be well-received by specific people. Making your voucher from a nice card or voucher paper with a time-limit and expiry date may make the voucher seem more exclusive and desirable. Just make sure it is a service worth having and negotiable.
THE VINTAGE GIFT
AKA as the op-shop gift, there isn’t a parent from the 80s who will say no to authentic Golden Books for their kids (in a good state) or retro platters or glassware. With the rise of plastic and inauthentic gifts, the effort to find genuine (and also affordable) Christmas gifts at the op-shop will not be lost on friends. And with many op-shops now actually stocking new products – the time is now for making the most of it.
HOW TO BUY – IDEALLY ETHICALLY AND SUSTAINABLY
While there are many shops and sources to buy from there are many websites to get ethically sources products such as: ETIKO for fairtrade clothing, felt. website for handmade products (a NZ website) Red Cross shops, Oxfam, UNICEF, among others. These shops can ensure that your money makes for a better day for someone or some greater good in the world
Although it may seem dodgy you could swindle the cost of Christmas to another level - it is rewarding to think that you not only save money but also put new value to vintage items (op-shop items) or give something handmade or ethically bought. Ultimately it is good to remember that you don’t need more stuff but better quality or more meaningful stuff and any of the stuff here will most likely be well-made but also well-chosen.