IOU’s, hand-me-downs and a goat – It’s time to reconsider your approach to Christmas

Many of us enter a state of denial around Christmas time. Our desire to spoil the people we love with extravagant parties and heart-felt gifts takes over and we momentarily forget our financial situation. We convince ourselves it will all be worth it and that we’ll get back on the financially responsible bandwagon in January.

Here’s the thing.

Going in to debt to buy presents that people don’t actually need just doesn’t make sense. It’s not worth it. So before you get sucked in to Christmas for the umpteenth year in a row, consider the following pointers for a change.

Be upfront and honest with your family about your finances

If times are tight, the worst thing you can do is put on a brave face and attempt to mask the situation by buying gifts on your credit card. Even young children are capable of understanding why their presents are a little thin on the ground if you explain it to them. If you’re saving for a big ticket item or you just don’t have a whole heap of spare cash flying around, sit down with your family and explain.

Make friends with your local op shop

Op shops are an absolute goldmine for quality gear and especially perfect for kids who tend to grow out of both toys and clothes super quickly. Op shops and flee markets are also the idea spot to pickup low-cost, unique gifts (think glassware, cutlery, china and art). Buying a $10 vintage platter is way cooler than buying mass-produced items from Ikea anyway!  Consider going one step further and asking your friends with older kids if they want to “hand-down” anything they no longer use.  Wrap it up, give it to your son/daughter on Christmas day and they’ll be none the wiser.

Gift people with awesome “IOU’s”

For parents with a couple of kids, no gift could possibly be better than a couple of nights worth of babysitting. Many parents feel awkward about asking friends and family to step in when they need help, so providing them with upfront IOU’s is a great way to get past this and show them you are available.

Buy an Oxfam Unwrapped gift

Here in Australia, none of us REALLY need any new ‘stuff.’ Why not help a community who really needs some help by purchasing a goat ($40) for a village in need as part of the Oxfam Unwrapped program.

Think about gifts low on cost but high on thought

Whip up a batch of your famous jam or make up some jars of bath salts – there are plenty of ways to create low-cost gifts that people will appreciate. One of my favourite ideas is putting together a collection of framed pictures by stocking up on low-cost frames from the two dollar shop. Framing photos is one of those things that everyone never gets around to doing so I reckon it’s a real winner of a present.

Share the load: Get everyone to bring a plate on Christmas day

When Christmas day rolls around, make sure you share the load with your loved ones. Ask everyone to bring a plate so you don’t end up footing the entire bill for Christmas lunch.