Over the last week or so I have become more and more enraged as the Christmas season has gradually crept up… a bit too prematurely for my liking, I mean is it just me or is ‘Christmas’ getting earlier each year?! Santa in November anyone?!
Now, I am all for celebrating. I am definitely all for the pretty lights, the cosy nights by the fire, the songs (I love the songs!) and that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you walk around a festive garden centre but what I am not feeling all happy and seasonal about is the ever-growing pressure to go bigger, better, more extravagant than previous years.
I have seen several posts from parents in Facebook groups panicking about not being able to keep up with the Jones’s, worrying about money, having anxiety about letting their kids down if they can’t afford the latest fad toy, I’ve even seen a poll asking how much people are spending on their kids… this needs to stop!! The world has gone crazy in my eyes. It isn’t a time for competition.
Christmas should be about being together as a family. It should be about cherishing every bloody moment and that’s whether you have a huge do and a fantastic time or even if you argue, burn the turkey, someone gets too drunk and spills a drink over the table or if you just spend it quietly and with a select few close people in your life. It is about coming together and spending quality time that you don’t get much of. It is NOT about money spending, buying OTT presents and just buying for the sake of buying.
I put a statement similar to this on my Instastories over the weekend and people were messaging me constantly over the 2 days telling me they completely agreed, saying well done for writing this, agreeing that the pressure gets to them, that it’s a bad time of year for their anxieties and mental health and I am so glad they did take the time to write back. At a time of year where we are meant to come together, it can actually have the opposite effect if there are hidden worries. This is where further problems stem from and can be why so many people become depressed, feel isolated and get themselves into unnecessary debt. And what for? For one bloody day, that’s what for!!
The day does not need to be like this. I wish we didn’t live in such a consumerist society but unfortunately, we really do and at this time of year more and more ‘stuff’ is dangled under our noses isn’t it?! I can just picture those greedy fat cats sitting in their office blocks loving watching you all squirm over the latest toy or computer game or whatever trend is circling the internet and rubbing their hands together as those tills kerching!
What if we didn’t succumb to all of this? What if we stopped thinking about what we should be buying and started to think about what we want to buy or give?
I certainly don’t want to be adding to the ever-growing plastic toy industry and I know I have bought things in the past because I thought my son truly wanted them. Guess what? He did think he wanted them but in all honesty? He played with them for a day or two and then always, always goes back to his trusty wooden train track which has been a firm favourite since he was around 2 years old. I have not only wasted my money, but I have also added to this plastic problem.
This year I am not succumbing to all the wants. This may sound harsh but I know full well that it won’t be loved, used or even appreciated after a few days so why should I bother? I would much rather get items that he will love, pay for season tickets to our favourite places, promise to take him to events/shows/days out and make memories we can all cherish. I also want to enjoy the day without that overwhelmed feeling children so often get.
Let’s also think of the rubbish we all produce each year. The cards, I really dislike Christmas cards. I wonder how many end up in the bin a few days later? That’s your money, people! Instead, I give the money I would spend to charity. So far over the years, I have donated to Cancer Research, done a food shop for a local food bank and made up care packages for the parents in NICU. I would much rather feel satisfied that my money has gone to a fantastic cause and helped somebody rather than on cards that last a few days/weeks.
The unwanted gifts. This is a biggie, isn’t it? How many gifts have you received and said thank you through gritted teeth? How much has sat under the bed, in your drawer until the following year when you’ve stumbled across it and either thrown it away or given it to a charity shop? We are all guilty of this!
Such a waste. A waste of that person’s money because they probably bought for the sake of buying, waste of a gift that could have gone to someone who would value it and more waste to the landfill.
The wrapping paper for the vast amount of gifts we all feel we have to give. It cannot be recycled. Enough said I think.
So, the solutions…
- Be honest with friends and family. If you cannot afford much please do just tell them. Remove that pressure and make your situation transparent. No one will be annoyed if you are not in the right position financially.
- Tell people exactly what you and your family need. That way you can get a gift that is wanted and will be used.
- Ask people what they need/want and stick to this.
- Set price limits on gifts amongst your friends and family.
- Get crafty and give homemade gifts. Maybe the children could make something for family members to cherish?
- Buy secondhand. I have seen some amazing wooden toys on Facebook marketplace which are in great condition. Secondhand doesn’t need to mean old and worn. You can find some treasures in your high street charity shops.
- Write out promises or favours. Perhaps that elderly relative could do with someone mowing their lawn every week? How about you help a neighbour with their shopping? You offer to babysit for x amount of Friday nights in the year to give those parents a night off? How about you promise to do this for them instead of giving a physical gift?
- Make ‘tokens’ for your children which state exciting things you are going to do with them in the new year. For instance, a trip to Chessington, a visit to the aquarium, a day at the zoo.
- Bake cakes, cookies, biscuits etc as gifts
- Make your own hamper up with homemade items and treats instead of forking out for a readymade shop one.
- Look on the internet for offers, discount codes, ask friends if they know of any and try emailing the companies to see if they can offer any discounts for a bulk order. Every little bit helps.
- Make an agreement in your family to only buy for the children. This works so well because it saves you money, it saves you time and stress of trying to find them a gift, it prevents unwanted gifts and it means the day can be far more enjoyable.
I hope this doesn’t make me sound like a complete negative Nancy, I hope you can see how the Christmas season can easily get out of hand and even though we all want to enjoy it, some people really can’t due to these pressures. I hope you can find some fab alternatives for gifts, some simple ways to save money and I really hope you can forget trying to impress or attempting to keep up with everybody else and can just enjoy this special time as a family.
Have a fantastic Christmas however you choose to spend it…
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