Thursday, 2 December 2010

Christmas Mission

I am on a mission this Christmas. A mission to spend as little money as possible without resorting to buying everyone’s presents at Poundland.

For many years I cursed my stupid family – parents splitting up and Dad re-marrying, thus thrusting into my life another person I had to buy a present for, brother and sister both marrying and then having offspring, slowly increasing the amount of money I was forking out each December.

Last year I decided that I would be Scrooge. Much as I know it’s all about the giving and not the receiving my bank balance couldn’t take anymore and I rang my brother and sister up and said that I would buy for their children but not for them. They were happy for this to happen, and I should think so too – it’s bad enough being the youngest at times but I was starting to feel like I was being punished for not getting a ring on my finger and a bun in the oven. So that was four presents off the list – BOOM.

Lots of people were feeling the strain last year so most of my friends and I decided that we would knock the idea of gifts on the head and maybe just go out for a drink and be full of festive cheer instead. But still my Christmas present list seems ridiculously long – and don’t think I didn’t kick off about my brother’s decision to add to my gift list this year by having another baby – some people are so bloody selfish.

My problem is that I have this terrible habit of equating more presents with better presents. I might get someone something I know they’ll really like and maybe only costs £10 but then will be plagued with a conversation that goes a little like this:

Bad voice in head: Is that all you’re getting them?

Me: Well yeah, I mean I know that they’re going to really like it and that’s good isn’t it?

Bad voice in head: Well I guess but you haven’t really spent that much money have you, I mean they’ll look at it and go “That’s nice they got me something I wanted but she only spent £10. Bitch”

Me: Really? Yeah you’re probably right, I’ll get them something else as well...

And so my list of presents to buy grows more expansive and expensive.

It even extends to situations where a limit is set. For instance we have a Secret Santa going on this year with the Stitch and Bitch girls and there’s a £10 limit and I’ve spent my limit on one present. And it’s kind of tiny. It doesn’t look like a lot. And so the internal monologue begins:

Me: Hurrah I spent my pennies and I got something I know my Secret Santa recipient will like

Bad voice in head: Yeah....but it’s tiny, doesn’t look like much.

Me: Yeah it is tiny, what’s your point

Bad voice in head: What if they think you’ve just spent a fiver and pocketed the rest?

Me: Well I can’t hand it to them with a receipt telling them how much it is can I?

Bad voice in head: *silence*

Me: Well maybe I should get something else?

Thus negating the concept of Secret Santa and limit setting.

I don’t know why I do it to myself. I know it’s the thought that counts and not the amount of money you spend and the size of the present but there is a child that still lives within me who really seems to think that way. She bugs me.

At the end of the day I just need to get realistic, I want people to have a lovely Christmas and want to buy them all the things I think they would like but I have to be reasonable, I just cannot afford to do that and that doesn’t make me a bad person.

Take my brother’s newby for instance. I thought about what I could get her and list began to grow and grow, from outfits, to books, to rattles, to toys and it all started to get a bit out of control until I thought to myself. “You know what? She’s going to be 2 months old, she really doesn’t need very much” so I bought her a lovely soft little bunny rattle, some babygros in the sale at Pumpkin Patch and I’m making a little sampler.

And with every cross stitch and every sweep of the crochet hook this month and next I will repeat to myself on a loop – more presents and expensive presents do not equal good presents.


  1. I just clicked on this post after placing a massive Amazon order for my family's presents. Well, some of them.

    I've tried talking to my family and discussing with them that we're all very comfortable financially and have all the things we need and maybe if we all just buy little things with a limit of £20 or so. Every year. And they go yeah yeah and then I stick to it and they don't and I feel awful.

    But I don't want all that stuff. And I don't want to spend £1k buying them a tonne of stuff they don't want either.

    For me the best bit of Xmas is the time off work. Well, that and the cake. The presents aren't even in my top ten favourite things about christmas.

    Still, better go and place my next order...

    Commercialism, sign. Consumerism, sigh. Strange confusion of affection with spending, sigh.

  2. Oh My God - how much pressure do you put on yourself?

    You need to turn up some cheesy Christmas music and drown out this Bad voice in your head. It's talking a load of rubbish. People do not expect tons and tons of presents, or even expensive ones for that matter. I'm sure the Secret Santa gift you've already purchased will be just fine.

    I've really slimmed my list down this year and the amount that I'm willing to spend.

    Books are always great presents to get for babies, toddlers, children and adults alike. And, Amazon is the place to get them from, especially now it's free delivery.

    Chillax, keep repeating your new mantra and tell yourself that you're no Scrooge.

  3. I have decided to give friends, where I can, something handmade or for them to craft themselves.
    The housemate and I are doing edible gifts for the people we would normally spend about £10 on. So far their gifts are costing us £4 each - and I think the girls will love what we have made them.
    The boy and I also set a limit - you can get so out of hand buying just to buy.

  4. I'm the same, I always think what I've got doesn't look much and I end up getting chocolates or socks or something to pad it out - but when you add it all up it works out really expensive! I'm doing it again this year, I'm hopeless!

  5. Well done you. You dont need to spend loads of money on pressies at Christmas. I think the things you bought for your bros new baby sound absolutely fine. Apart from my own kids, I spend very little on pressies for other folk (the Boots 75% sale in January ia where I do the bulk of my shopping, and usually with points that I have ammassed throughout the year.)xxxx

  6. :o) I had that same problem for years. It got me into trouble more times than I could count. Know what I'm doing this year? I've made everything with the exception of a few things for the two grands, well....cuz they're the only grands I have, and you can't just give the grands one thing, and then you get one a certain thing and the other will want one like it but they're the only two grands I have!!! (I know, I'm doing it again but I've scaled way way down) Sigh...........but I really have made the rest of my presents this year. They're all crocheted.

  7. I have the same arguments with myself! Glad it's not just me. I decided to make most of my christmas pressies this year and seriously curbing the amount spent - easier said than done tho! Hope everyone likes the pressies you buy them, I'm sure they won't even notice/care about the cost.


    It's very hard to find a way to be grateful for something that you know cost an awful lot if it's something that's just not suitable for your wishes nor requirements.

    Money can never replace thoughtfulness. One year, instead of our usual SSanta, we all made home-made gifts. It was the best, cos it's like everyone's giving you a piece of them.

  9. This won't help but... do what we do, don't do presents. And yes, it probably will change once the baby comes, but right now it makes me feel a big wave of relief.

  10. I do a similar thing now with my sisters and brother..only buy for their children and they only buy for mine..but its become a bit tricky recently as my eldest 2 are 18 and very nearly 21 so do I expect everyone to count them as children too???

    Everyone says I'm a christmas misery but what I wouldn't give to have enough money to bugger off somewhere hot and peaceful for christmas and new year.

    Em xxxx

  11. I always do this - I'll buy a present and think it doesn't look like much even though it cost whatever limit I'd set myself for the person, so like Lucy says, I'll end up buying socks, chocs, calendars, etc etc... and if you do that for everyone it gets out of control! This year I've decided to bake biscuits and wrap them up for my extra presents (although I seem to be spending lots of money on curling ribbon so not sure this is actually a budget option..!)

  12. It's not about the money or the size, you know it, you just need to destroy that little voice which is making you feel guilty! It's not right!!

  13. I think I've already blogged about this - I get the exact same voice in my head! Getting a cheap/bargainous present for someone somehow makes me think that I need to then buy something else and I really, really don't! No-one looks at presents and mentally prices them, surely?


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