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Your view: it’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas

Christmas keyboard

We resist chatting about Christmas too early on Which? Convo but it seems like you’re raring to go. So put up your lights, tuck into a mince pie and get the Christmas list in order as we explore your best bits…

We’ve discussed the impact the rising cost of energy has had on our energy bills. But just how much is this affecting our plans to celebrate Christmas. Lee told us he’s a child at heart:

‘I normally have a tree, loads of lights and even Santa himself in a blow up form at the end of my bed. But this year I won’t be having any of it. Such a shame, but I just can’t bring myself to use all that electricity.’

But John Ward told us it’s not put him off, as he likes all the bells and whistles:

‘I’m a fully paid-up member of the Say No to Ebenezer society and the only thing that constrains our display is the time it takes to set it all up and take it down again!’

Cheap but chic Christmas

Figgerty wishes there was a ‘Martha Stewart type to advise us on how to have a cheap but chic Christmas.’ I’d put that on your Christmas list Figgerty – you never know what Santa might bring. And Josquine told us:

‘In principle I should enjoy looking at other people’s decorations – I’d never put such things up myself – but in practice I just can’t help thinking of the waste of energy and I get quite troubled at seeing them.’

And it’s not just the glitz that people are cutting back on as a number of you are cutting back on the Christmas card tradition too. Hugh D told us that he sends hand-written cards to family and his closest friends:

‘To the rest, I send e-cards or a text. I also often phone them for a nice long chin-wag, at the same time letting them know that this is my ‘‘card’’ to them.

The Christmas card cull

Pat’s taken a similar approach with her wishes of merriment after making an agreement with her friends and family. She’s also earned our comment of the week:

‘My card list has shrunk enormously over the last two years simply because of the cost of postage. A lot of my friends have stopped sending cards for the same reason so we’ve agreed to wish each other a Merry Christmas verbally. We’ve long ago agreed not to exchange presents for the same reason and none of us are particularly poor. But it saves on money and the worry of what to get someone who has everything plus the shopping involved. We all complain about Christmas and the moral blackmail it entails, but none of us have the guts to cancel it.’

Let’s make Figgerty’s Christmas and keep sharing your tips for a cheap but chic Christmas. I’ve dealt with this by setting budget limits with friends and family or making homemade gifts (who can resist a box of homebaked goods) so what are your top tips for Christmas?


It really is too early to be talking seriously about Christmas – I haven’t bought any presents yet and it just reminds me of that. Once upon a time, things Christmassy really began in the couple of weeks leading up to Santa’s arrival – decorations, town lights, deals in shops. Now, once we’ve got over our summer hols the shops start winding us up for the festive season. Why buy mince pies in November? I wonder whether Easter Eggs will appear just before or just after Christmas this year?

Christmas decorations in a commercial environment should be banned before 1st December; otherwise they are unseasonal and out of place. I find it particularly annoying when I see them in September.

ryan noble says:
23 November 2013

I imagine in about 10 years the Queen will make john lewis the official christmas department store and they will handle all things to do with christmas including teaching christmas at free schools and how to be good consumers

Sophie Gilbert says:
24 November 2013

By the looks of it, Edinburgh Council and quite a few shops still don’t find electricity expensive enough, and thinking of what overconsumption of energy does to the environment couldn’t be further from their minds.

We need cheer at this time of year when days grow so much shorter and darker, and we all know that’s why quite a few feast are celebrated around now, but do we need to be so wasteful and unwise about it?

We are also robbed of our enjoyment of autumn, we are being rushed towards the beginning of winter in what I’m sure proves to be a huge anti-climax after the preceding build up that lasts well over three months. A whole season! I’m really disgusted when I think about it like this, and I’m not even a bah-humbug*er!

Christrmas lights are designed to bring in the shoppers, so energy cost is offset by extra profits. We mustn’t become to obsessed with saving energy must we? Otherwise we would ban floodlit sports events, street lighting (stay in after dark), foreign travel……… and how would Santa find his way around?

Couldn’t agree more – anything to brighten up the inspissated gloom.

With my Moonstar cocktail under his belt [see the festive lights Conversation] the jolly Santanaut will be able to see in the dark alright!

One solution is to use LEDs as any colour can now be produced and the running costs
are very low … If you set up a dc power supply to the lighting ring to replace the 230 v mains
and do use individual power supply inits as this is where power loss can occur.

Paul, If I’ve read your post correctly, I do not think replacing a lighting ring with a dc supply is very practical or economic – and modest Christmas lights would generally be fed from the socket ring. Even taking individual power supply losses into account you are not going to break the bank through energy use.
If, however, you are planning a grand lighting extravaganza then using specialist equipment and a dedicated supply is probably the answer

Last week, a friend gave me a pack of reduced price mince pies from Waitrose. The ‘use by’ date is today, 25 November. 🙂

I have shared the pack of mince pies and bought some charity cards at a charity event, but I will not be giving any further thought to Christmas until the start of December.

Yes, some friends just take the biscuit, don’t they?

I received an email today – extract attached – that solves most of my Christmas present problems. It came under the heading “Festive gifts: Tablet bundles and Toilet seats” (yes, really) and the offer was:
” Soft Slow Close Toilet Seat
Say goodbye to unnecessary noise with this soft slow close toilet seat for £8.99 instead of £19.99. Bottom fixings are included”
The lucky recipient(s) might find it hard to tear themselves away from this welcome gift.

I hesitate to enquire as to the nature of the tablets.

Well I would like to propose that journalists who descry the round robin be hung drawn and quartered.

In a week with Esther Rantzen promoting The Silverline (www.thesilverline.org.uk) I think we should all reconsider the sending of Christmas cards.

There are many who actually enjoy reading the round robins and are able to take with a pinch of salt the fantastic exploits and achievements of the senders’ children. I would suggest that those journalists might just be having a problem with writing their own Christmas cards and looking for an easy get out clause. I do have to say that someone did write a very funny round robin about a disastrous previous year.

Many people like to read and re-read what has been written in their Christmas cards and it is lovely when it is more than “with love from Fred and Sue”. Those are the ones that can be ticked on the “still alive” list. With Christmas cards you don’t need to bother with other decorations.

So re-think about sending Christmas cards. They may be expensive – especially so when they say no more than “with love from Fred and Sue” but they may also be the only gift you are sending the recipient – and it may be a greater gift than you imagine.

Why are you sending Christmas cards? For you or the recipient? Who cares what a few opinionated journalists think! I don’t.

With my brother and sister we have decided to stop giving each other presents. Before coming to this decision we tried to be sensible about gifts asking what each other needed rather than buying something that would go straight to eBay or the charity shop. However, once we were buying slippers we thought it was better to buy them themselves.I stored all cards, wrapping paper and tags together having discovered each in various locations around the house at various times of year. I haven’t needed to buy card this year. Other relatives tend to get hampers. I make up the hampers based upon what each person likes. I have looked at buying complete hampers but they are relatively expensive and contain items you would not normally buy like bottles of maraschino cherries. Yuk! Although much of the contents of the hamper are edible, hand cream and soaps are popular.

We also, dugalheath – apart from the smaller children Although we will exchange stockings. We decided we had most of the things Christmas gifts would cover, and giving vouchers was just a kind of circular gift, if each did the same.

I like the idea of hampers with sensible but less usual contents – not the pink rose and champagne marmalade variety – and when my elderly aunt was alive, living on her own on a low income, used to send her one to supplement her diet and, hopefully, enjoyment. But make up your own; don’t buy an overpriced commercial one.

You have made a sensible decision you and them can now spend the money on things they want when they want them Giving gifts at Christmas has just got out of hand pushed by the media and advertising .Gifts for children but not for everybody you might know as seems to be the thing now Giving of cards to all and their neighbours to has to become and expensive habit , cards to far flung relations or friends but all you have met once ? Christmas has become a commercial time not a religious one Waste your money put yourself into debt by buying all on credit but I for one will not be doing it having seen sense

When I was buying my Christmas cards this year I couldn’t believe the number of silly cards people obviously spend quite a bit of money on – “From our house to your house”, “From the both of us . . .” [appalling use of English], “From our dog . . . ” [really?], and so on, mostly too excruciating to repeat. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one saying “From our cat to your gerbil”. What’s wrong with using an ordinary card and writing something inside to customise it? Then there are all the sentimental ‘relations’ cards – “To my favourite second-cousin’s most beautiful grand-daughter” . . . you get the picture. They must make the mantelpiece wince and groan. The Royal Mail wins hands down at Christmas because the stamp costs more than the card in most cases [except for these ‘bespoke’ types, of course, when mega profits go to foreign printers and paper manufacturers – from the Orient, of course].