Christmas is typically a time of joy and love, giving and receiving, peace to all men and all the lovely things that we look forward to around this time of year, from tasty treats and delicious Christmas dinners to meeting up with immediate family and having a laugh.

There is a darker side of Christmas however, one that parents usually keep wrapped up in their own mind; financial stress. Too often do people believe they need to go over the top every year and have a bigger, better Christmas than years before. This can quickly lead to debt which casts a dark cloud over the New Year celebrations when you are more focused on saving the pennies to make it through the typically longer pay period between Christmas and January.

If you are concerned about the effect financial stress is having on your mental health and home environment, here are some tips to make your Christmas less about the cost and more about the sentiment.

Reduce Santa Presents

A modern trend that is causing more harm to children than good is the increase in cost and number of presents from Santa children get each year. While in your own home it might be wonderful to see the joy on your child’s face as they open their gifts from Father Christmas, however, this is often the greatest cause of financial stress for parents, who see no appreciation or gratitude for the presents they get from Santa.

Not only does this cause financial worry in the household (which your children can and will pick up on), but this can have a knock-on effect on less-fortunate children when they go back to school and see the disparity between what Santa brought one child when compared to them. Of course, while no family needs to curb their spending to protect somebody else’s feelings, your child won’t be worse off from one less gift.

Introduce Secret Santa Amongst the Adults

Secret Santa is typically a gift giving activity that takes place in offices and between large friend groups, however, with bills ever increasing and the cost of goods going up, buying decent gifts for the adults in your family can soon get expensive. Consider introducing the opportunity for Secret Santa in your family. Each person puts together a list of different things they would like to receive below a certain budget, choosing multiple items so the gift giver can offer a surprise rather than an expected gift. Names are then put into a hat and picked at random, just make sure nobody picks themselves out!

Sell Things Around the Home You Don’t Need or Use

Sometimes things pop up that are unexpected, and you may find that an expensive bill or expenditure is going to leave you short for the season. To make a quick bit of cash without taking up more of your precious time (like getting a second job would do), consider having a look around your home for bits you can sell, popular items that sell well second hand include; children’s toys, baby and toddler clothing, working homewares and unblemished furniture. If you are crafty, consider putting together some homemade Christmas cards or decorations, you can even work with your local shop to sell your creations or create an online store via Amazon, eBay or Etsy.

Other Small Areas to Make Savings

There are few things we typically do at Christmas that can be changed up in order to save money, for example, rather than sending out physical cards, put some effort into creating a digital card and email this around your friends and family. Rather than give gifts that don’t offer anything value, like gag gifts and silly presents, you could instead give the gift of a charity donation, adopt an animal or even sponsor an orphan. These sorts of gifts can make the receiver feel like they’ve helped a bigger cause and save getting something cheap and plastic that will be thrown out in the next house clearing.

 

If you are worried about funding Christmas this year, think about the places you can cut back and consider setting rules, a popular one going around at the moment is a “ban on unnecessary gifts” where you reduce the giving circle to immediate family only. This stops people thinking they need to give you a gift in return, just make sure to discuss with friends and colleagues before hand so you don’t receive a gift and feel obligated to give back.

Christmas shouldn’t be about the monetary aspect, so spend more time with the people you care about and let them know how special they are to you with your words and actions, rather than your wallet and if you do find yourself struggling from month to month, without the extra cost of holidays, consider talking to your employer about a pay review.