Minimalists beware; it’s only a few weeks until – Christmas and consumerism are king. Seven weeks to budget and prepare for Christmas seems ample and shops, online and offline are ready to entice our credit cards to be used and reused. Unfortunately, the pressure for the perfect gift on the most wonderful day of the year can leave us regretful and broke.

To avoid a financial hangover it’s important to create an affordable, agreed budget and stick to it. Review how much you have spent on a regular basis so you don’t overspend. Make a list of people you need to buy for and allocate an amount to spend on each person’s gift. Be creative with your money rather than carefree. Here are a few hints to help you get through the silly season:

  • Secret Santa or ‘Julklapp’ is a Scandinavian tradition of knocking on someone’s door, throwing in a gift and running away. Today we play it a little differently and friends, family or co-workers usually get allocated a Secret Santa. Often we will write the names on a piece of paper and everyone draws a name out randomly. Some people go to the extent of writing a few gift ideas with their name and setting a budget for gifts is also a great idea.
  • This means everyone gets a gift and you only need to buy for one person.
  • Gift cards can be a safe and easy gift however, so many people let their funds expire before they use their cards. The stores love them and obviously make a great deal of profit from them but make sure there is a generous expiry date of at least 6-12 months.
  • This is the time to buy on line. You should manage to get some genuine sales as well as receive your goods in time for the big day.
  • Charity gifts – Donating to a charity on someone else’s behalf can be a rewarding gift for those who have everything. Charities such as World Vision have a variety of gifts from water and sanitation to cows, ducks and pigs. You can personalise the gift by finding something that people can relate to, for example if you know a teacher you may want to take advantage of gifts such as ‘Train the teacher’ for $130 or school pencils for kids at $5.
  • Oxfam also have a fun range of Christmas Cards to gift your friends and family. All the time assisting people living in poverty. Whilst your true love may want ‘A partridge in a pear tree’ or ‘two turtle doves’…a couple of chickens or a goat can make a huge impact on someone’s family and way of life in a third world country.
  • Share the catering. A turkey isn’t cheap so get the rest of your guests to contribute by bringing a salad, dessert or a bottle of wine. This will cut your costs as well as ease the pressure of doing all the cooking yourself.

Whilst your waistline may stretch a little during the Christmas season there is no need to stretch the budget. Remember those mortgage payments will still be there once the festivities are over. Avoid the financial hangover and make a plan so you and your family can enjoy Christmas and the holidays stress free.