I am sure there are quite a few people out there who are feeling a little daunted by Christmas this year in the current economic climate. It seems many of us are being careful with our purse strings at the moment and Christmas couldn't have fallen at a worse time. However it may seem Christmas isn't about money at all, it originated to celebrate the birthday of Jesus and whether you are religious or not it’s a time for love and connection. Over the years Christmas has come a bigger and bigger commercial opportunity, from early November we start to be bombarded with adverts for the best gifts to give, people become competitive about their decorations, the food we cook needs to be the finest and so on. Is this all really necessary though to show people we care? Not really.
Following are my top tips to have a Christmas with not much money!
1) Make hampers. A great friend of mine once was a bit cash poor one Christmas and decided to make homemade food hampers for all her family. She made delicious homemade chutneys, sauces and even truffles. They really went down a hit.
2) Invite people over and ask everyone to bring a dish, one New Year’s Eve a friend hosted a great party were we all brought a different course. We all really enjoyed contributing and sampling each other’s delights.
3) Agree a budget with everyone or even agree on no presents this year; lots of people are in the same situation this year so you might actually be helping ease each other’s minds by suggesting it.
4) Make your own Christmas cards, spending some time switching off from usual everyday stuff and being creative is great fun. Plus people really appreciate time spent on anything homemade. Stock up on glitter, ribbons and stick on stars and enjoy!!
5) Put aside thoughts of what to buy and think about how to show your love. How can you tell the people you care about the most you love them? Letters, conversations, sharing memories and what someone means to you, photographs, making time for them all spring to mind.
6) If you can’t give with money what about gifts with your time, what could you offer to help someone with? What could you arrange to do with them that would be meaningful? People tend to remember experiences more than material possessions.
7) Volunteer to help people who have less than you, for example the homeless charity Crisis UK opens Christmas centres across London and Newcastle from 22-30 December that offer vital companionship, hot meals and warmth, and a wide range of essential services that homeless people often miss out on. See the time bank website for more details.
8) Make the most of your time off work, allow yourself to stop, switch off and relax. It’s a great time to reflect on the year gone by, what you have learnt and what you would like to do next year. Open this conversation up to others, there will be an opportunity to learn from each other and share your dreams, which will put them into reality and help to make them happen.
Showing you love someone doesn't have to cost money and often the things that touch our hearts the most are actions and words which are priceless.