With Covid-19 still lingering, I actually hope this Christmas will be different and overall better for everyone. I also hope we won’t revert to our old habits once Covid is eradicated.
Canadian households spend an average of $ 1 500.00 on Christmas items, i.e. gifts, food, booze and decorations. This yearly frenzy can leave us frazzled and feeling the pinch, financially.
A silver-lining of this pandemic is that it shows us it doesn’t have to be this way. It never had to be in the first place! Here are a few tips for a different Christmas:
Remember the true meaning of Christmas, regardless of your religion or origins
Christmas is definitely not about gifts, overeating or getting into debt to finance it. History has an excellent primer here.
Before buying anything, go through your home to check what you already have. You don’t need brand new deco every year. There might also be a few items you have never used and that could be suitable re-gifts.
Re-gifting is perfectly acceptable nowadays. I’ve done it myself on a couple of occasions. Just make sure you don’t re-gift within the same social circle and you’ll be fine.
Make a list and be (very) selective
Does the second cousin you haven’t seen in 5 years really need a gift from you? Growing-up, my parents only bought presents for their children, nephews and nieces and themselves. And that was expensive enough!
It was pretty much the same for my other relatives. Nowadays, it is a parents-children gift exchange. Last year, I only bought three gifts: one for my parents, one for the office party and one for the friends’ party. I definitely had a “Merry January”.
Set a dollar limit and stick to it
A $10-$15 gift for friends and co-workers is pretty common. For family, you might spend a bit more, but you should be comfortable with the amount and you should not have to pay any interest on it, nor pay for it for the next 3 or 6 months.
As written above, Christmas is not about gifts. The Royal Family has had a tradition of exchanging “gag gifts” for decades. Maybe we could all take a leaf from that.
Entertaining and feeding people can cost a ton! Covid restrictions will definitely help with the food budget. If you plan on having a small gathering, ask your guests to bring a dish and their own booze. My family has always done so and we’ve always had great food/wine on the table. Most importantly, we have a great time catching-up and relaxing together.
Spread your shopping
The closer we get to December 25th, the more expensive everything is. Don’t wait for the last minute. Look for deals now. Small businesses are probably more willing to accommodate on this front, as they’ve been greatly impacted by Covid.
Skip some invitations, even virtual ones
This shouldn’t be a problem given Covid restrictions on social gathering and travel. It can actually a good thing.
Pre-Covid, most people would receive lots of invitations during the Holiday Season. Between work, school, church, places we volunteer at, friends and family, it can feel and be like a 24/7 social marathon. It can leave us exhausted, not to mention we do end-up spending a lot of money.
Zoom-in on people who truly matter to you and whom you really want to spend time with. In that respect a pandemic is a good opportunity to do just that. As well re-assessing our lives in general.
Being a bit of a Grinch over Christmas can not only be good for your wallet, but also for your sanity. I’ve had no problem doing this over the last few years. I wasn’t always that way. It ended-up being costly on more than one occasion.