/ Money, Shopping

I’m dreaming of a tight Christmas

Christmas present in front of a Christmas tree

A few years ago, I started to dread the approach of Christmas. I’d never considered myself a Grinch, so I wondered – what was getting in the way of my festive cheer?

Eventually, I worked out that my bad mood was all tied up in Christmas shopping. First, there was the enormous challenge of choosing what to buy for my family, made up almost entirely of adults over thirty. Anything they wanted, they’d already bought.

The weeks preceding Christmas were packed with phone calls to the partners of those we were buying for, desperately hoping they could provide inspiration for a gift. In most cases they couldn’t, and I’m sure my family suffered the same trying to buy for me.

O come, all ye fretful

Secondly, there was the expense. For me, buying for ten people put a big dent in my budget. And it seems I’m not the only one, as our latest research also found that more than half of people say Christmas is financially tougher this year than last.

So one day I did the unthinkable – I suggested that the adults of the family stop buying presents for one another. But my idea isn’t totally original, as our research also found that 17% of people are only buying presents for children and not for adults this year.

The reaction was overwhelmingly one of relief. The family agreed to buy for the children only, and to give mum a little something toward the magnificent feast she would cook up.

Last Christmas, I gave you… nothing

Although I’m yet to convince my partner’s family of the benefits, my family felt a huge weight lifted from our shoulders when we tried this approach last year. We were able to focus on spending some quality time together – eating, drinking and being merry.

Do you think I’m a Grinch for cutting out the Christmas presents? Or would be tempted to try something similar next Christmas?


Welcome to the sanity camp Jennifer : )

Apart from perhaps buying joke gifts most of the male members of our family were happy with the concept of a theoretical cheque sent for birthdays and Christmas – and then bought what they wanted. The female side seem to have a problem with the concept.

Over-purchasing at Xmas for food is another problem area. You can eat very nicely at Xmas but there is no need to over-indulge and feel bloated, constipated, headachy or gout ridden.

I appreciate that Christmas is a very important time for families, and I will certainly be joining in.

One of the things that upsets me most is the huge waste of resources, with people receiving gifts that they don’t really want or probably will not use. I don’t have my own kids but my relations include a large family where mum would tell me that many of the gifts duplicated toys that the kids already had. I now give gift cards, or cheques to the older ones, so that they can buy what they want. The older ones are now at university and are particularly grateful for the money.

But Christmas is totally out of hand and I will come home with lots of stuff that I don’t need or will make me fat. The gifts I value most are those that have been hand-made rather than bought from a shop.

It’s time we all started to think more about the environmental impact of our lifestyle without being obsessed about it.

I am glad to have had noticeably fewer Christmas cards this year, presumably because of rising postal charges. Maybe this will help me and others to actually keep in touch rather than just going through the mechanical process of sending cards every year.

I love the idea of not getting/giving presents, just a shame that I can’t convince other members of the family.

Last year I suffered an ugly scene with my sister, due to me stating a few months earlier no presents this year please and guess what she got me a present.

My cousin has refused to enter the no presents this year pact too. Just like my mum and dad. grrr

Its hard to convince people that if there’s something I want then why wouldn’t I have bought it already myself and if its something I don’t already have then surely that’s because its maybe something I don’t really want, Sigh.

Sally Constantine says:
23 December 2013

We stopped buying Christmas presents when we got to the stage of ‘all adults’ christmas. With no children around it seemed pointless so now just do a ‘secret santa’ (£1 a gift male or female and no cheating!) and that’s it. Only expenditure now is on food & drink. Takes the stress off

I do sympathise (possibly empathise) with the views expressed here. However I think sometimes we can take life a little too seriously. One day I will be fertiliser, so enjoy it while you can. We use a number of occasions to over-indulge a little – family birthdays, annual family holiday and Christmas. These are occasions when we get the whole family together, which can be hard work in preparation, but very rewarding on the day.
Christmas is generally a panic – cleaning and decorating the house, accumulating food and, worst, trying to decide what to give to whom and then shopping for it. Yes – it can be traumatic. And we still have Christmas stockings filled with both silly things, and useful things. But I wouldn’t swap the fun and the atmosphere for anything.

To be fair my mother, when alive, did get a kick out of Xmas, as for her making fun events and providing the great present was a welcome challenge that commenced Jan 2nd each year. I think this is a rare skill. And perhaps we also suffer from the perfect Xmas’s portrayed endlessly on TV.

Perhaps when the grandchildren arrive I will start to recreate the fun stuff – but now of course I will be competing against the latest smartphone : (

I agree with all the above. I too found myself stressing over it all. I finally plucked up enough courage to say no presents this year for extended family. It hasn’t gone down well, but that isn’t a worry to me. I have donated to Charities this year where my money will be used to benefit others and be appreciated. I don’t have to worry about debt either. I can actually enjoy Christmas this year guilt free.

I did suggest last year to all the family that they sourced all Christmas presents from charity shops. No luck yet, but I’ll float the idea next year. I found some terrific books at bargain prices for last year’s stockings.

Sally Montgomery says:
23 December 2013

I don’t buy into any of it, my loved ones can have whatever I can give, as and when they want or need it providing I can afford it. I accept the gifts of love, time, talents and thought anything else goes straight to a charity .
My friend has just sent me a book which she has just finished reading it will be read and passed on to two others who have expressed an interest. That gave me immense pleasure because I wanted and needed it. If someone gives me something of meaning to them or me I treasure it. Because its priceless.
I don’t deny myself or others, my life is enriched not devoid. Walk with me, talk to me, learn me, love me, care about me, value me, share with me and I’ll do the same. Some can do this some can’t.