Christmas Crisis

Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
edited 6 October 2009 at 7:01PM in Debt-free wannabe
This will be my first Christmas since I had my LBM. I had saved up some money for Christmas presents but unfortunately we have had a few unexpected bills and there is very little left. I know the right thing to do is to sit down and work out what (if any!!) spare cash I will have over the next couple of months and do a budget but I wondered if anyone had any tips how to make this work in practice?

My kids are 9 and 11 and I have already said to them there wont be loads of cash for presents this year and the 9 year old said "thats OK, Santa will bring us some presents anyway".

Its soooo tempting to just put it on credit and I am scared of falling off the wagon.

I have also had a conversation with my sister (my family are big on Christmas) and told her money was a bit tight this year and suggested we scale down the present buying. Her reponse was "oh dont worry, I understand, you just buy us what you can afford". This wasnt really what I wanted, I dont want to buy her family really cheap presents and then receive something expensive in return.

I know Christmas should be about a lot more than presents but there is just so much pressure to spend. Wish I could fast forward to January and skip it altogether. Does anyone else feel the same?



  • Okay, my big tip is to join a local Freecycle list, if you haven't already. Don't ask all at once, but you could post requests for various things that your kids and general family might like. These lists are SO useful and full of generous people. While on the list, you can also keep your eyes open for items coming up that might suit as well.

    One word of warning, you have to be a bit obsessive to get in there first and claim the items up for grabs, as they can disappear very quickly.

    Oh, as a fab example of how this can work, I got hold of two very old sewing machines for my Mum's birthday this year. Free to a good home, needed a little bit of attention (my Mum is also very into DIY, so perfect for her that way too) and one of them even had the origianl bill of sale in a drawer, along with a piece of newspaper from 1920 something. They were the perfect present, I could never have afforded to buy anything that would have pleased her half so much!

    But I've also seen lots of kiddy stuff on there, from Wendy houses to games consoles. Highly recommended!

  • dancingfairy
    dancingfairy Posts: 9,069 Forumite
    Hi - maybe this thread will give you some help and encouragment:
    Best of Luck
    Making my money go further with MSE :j
    How much can I save in 2012 challenge
    75/1200 :eek:
  • pir
    pir Posts: 152 Forumite

    You aren't the only one. There is a Christmas thread in the special occasion section of the forum (sorry cannot link to it). There was also a thread on debt-free with a similar problem. Those threads have some great tips.

    Sit down and work out a budget do you know exactly what you have to spend. It's about the experience not the presents.

    I would concentrate on being able to have a good dinner (again this can be done on the cheap), and presents for the children. Your sister etc are not the priority.

    See if you can buy one of the items your children would like (one of the must have items even if it's the cheapest must have). Then buy lots of little things. Wrap everything up with cheap wrapping paper, even the stocking filler little things, as the unwrapping is the fun bit, not the presents.

    Buy a few family games (give them as presents even) as that means you have lots to do over the holiday period together. Family games can be picked up in supermarkets if you buy their version and not the original. Card games, quizzes are the best for these kinds of days.

    As for your sister, make a present. How about a picture of you two when you were young in a nice photo frame. A cheap photo frame with an actual photo is much better than an expensive one with no photo. It's the thought that counts. Don't worry if she buys you something more expensive, let her as you will be giving back a thoughtful present.
  • dancingfairy
    dancingfairy Posts: 9,069 Forumite
    Start shopping now - I know Boots have started selling off last years stock etc and I suspect other shops etc might start having the old sale to clear out for the new stuff - so there may be some good bargains to be had.
    Also you can go for the hamper style things - ie hot chocolate or pampering ones or gardening ones or kiddy ones etc - you can make them look really expensive and posh with some careful shopping and a bit of celephane/ribbon etc.
    Here is the special occassion board and there seems to be a couple of threads on there to look at:
    Making my money go further with MSE :j
    How much can I save in 2012 challenge
    75/1200 :eek:
  • robsmum_2
    robsmum_2 Posts: 1,753 Forumite
    Hi, Agree with other posters and their suggestions. But heres a few more ideas. Suggest to your sister that you only buy for the children (we've done it for years) once it was suggested it was "why didn't we think of it before". Also suggest you only buy for each others kids on a set price.
    Games etc are available on freecycle but also Ebay. I've sold almost new games for a couple of pounds on there.

    Do a meal plan from Christmas Eve until 2nd Jan as soon as possible, then split it into weeks and add bits to weekly shop. That works really well for me and means the last shop is only fresh stuff.

    Don't give into to pressure and put everything on CC.
    Good Luck
    Debt at start of DMP 1/6/09: £2942 - £1942
    Buffer Zone 1; £84 -
    £2 saving plan:-
  • Hi YorkshireLass

    My sister often gets new and nearly new gifts from carboots for kids and grown ups, for example a couple of weeks ago she got a brand new body shop gift set with tags for £2!

    she keeps telling me to go along with her - I should really! X
    :j6 debts cleared since joining MSE:j
    :eek: Remaining debts... Very / Halifax Loan/ A&L / Virgin cc / Lloyds / Sister :eek:
    :smileyheaGetting Married 04.12.10 - The MSE way :smileyhea
    :dance: Making this house a home :dance:
  • pir
    pir Posts: 152 Forumite
    Car boot sales as well, start going to pick up some cheap toys. Also consider clearing out your old junk by doing a car boot. Please note people seem to think they can generate lots from a carboot sale but in reality items are sold for pennies rather than pounds. I say anything from £40 up is good at a general carboot (selling smaller general stuff).

    If you have friends with slightly older children they may be doing a clearout and have some old toys/games for you.
  • misspoppy
    misspoppy Posts: 1,009
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker

    A few years ago we arranged to buy for the kids and do a secret santa for the adults so we got one decent present instead of 6 rubbish ones, its so much better and cheaper. Suggest this to your family and explain to them as you have to us that you don't want to buy rubbish.

    One year my sister spent £20 each on her two kids they were over the moon, ask grandparents to buy some of the more expensive gifts that the kids want that way you dont get stuck with the whole bill, I always try to buy good gifts for my nephews because I know their Mum can afford it. Get the kids to help make jams and chutney's or even truffles which are very easy to make and can be shared amongst several people.
  • pir
    pir Posts: 152 Forumite
    Is there the possibility that your children would share one big present, e.g. a wii which lots of people could chip in and help buy thus keeping the illusion of santa going?
  • dancingfairy
    dancingfairy Posts: 9,069 Forumite
    You could try the whole I'm really skint can I just buy for the kids thing and if your sister really really wants to buy you a present maybe suggest she gives some money to the tsunami/flood victims that need it at the moment or to your favourite chaity or buy some chickens/goats or whatever Oxfam etc are doing at the moment.
    Making my money go further with MSE :j
    How much can I save in 2012 challenge
    75/1200 :eek:
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