In the lead up to Christmas I am regularly asked by journalists & readers for ideas on quick ways to make some spare cash or how to cut their Christmas bills. Of course there are some great ideas such as these Christmas money saving tips.
Yet if I am being honest, I always have to stop myself saying 'just stop being so extravagant'. I remember working in various shops when I was younger in the lead up to Christmas. The store managers were almost rubbing their hands together because they were so eager to pick your pockets, metaphorically speaking of course. Shoppers would grab anything off the shelves so they could tick another person off their list.
There is no better time of year to sell overpriced stuff to people who don't really want it than in the lead up to Christmas. It feels like we are on a merry-go-round where people compete to buy better and better presents. People will often make the hollow claim that 'it's all about giving rather than receiving'. If that were true why would they not just give the money to charity instead?
Don't get me wrong I spoil both my daughters at Christmas and will do so this year. Yet in my family something interesting happened a few years ago. Every year my siblings and I would buy each other and our respective partners and children presents. Add our parents to the list and suddenly we had 18 people to buy for before we'd even got started!
This ever growing list of people to buy for made the run up to Christmas very stressful, expensive and not at all enjoyable. Spending the final days before Christmas racking your brains to come up with present ideas is not my idea of fun.
Then a wise family head (not me I hasten to add) asked 'why do we stress ourselves doing all this every year? Why don't we just buy the children presents and skip the adults?'
I'll admit it seemed a bit unconventional at the time but we went with it once everyone agreed. Fast forward to today and Christmas is a blast. There is no fretting over shopping lists or frantically seeking present ideas. There's no budgeting or queueing in shops. We now spend a fraction of what we did before, yet for those who we do buy presents for (namely the children in the family) we spend more than we used to.
Us adults simply spend more time enjoying each other's company and I no longer dread my January credit card bill.
It might not be for every family but I tell you what, the kids prefer it and so do I. I get more into the Christmas spirit these days because I have the time to rather than fretting over whether we've bought Aunty 'So and So' a pair of socks yet or whether we've spent too much on her already.
So why not approach the subject with your family and try and get them, and you, to enjoy a stress free festive season.