Peter BoastToday at 12:39pm

Christmas is a tough time of year with the push to spend spend spend. When money is tight it can lead to despair, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Christmas can be a special time even without money. Defeat the spirit of Scrooge with the six tips below.

Tip 1 – Step back from the madness

Give yourself a break. Avoid the shopping malls, the adverts, and all the messages that only expensive purchases make Christmas special. When you see the madness for what it is, you can face it with humour rather than getting sucked into the hype.

Tip 2 – Research, plan & list

It is tempting to hit the shops for gift ideas. Steer clear of this approach at all costs!  Do your research online and thinking in the cool calm of home. Let’s be realistic; there will be at least one trip to the shops over Christmas. If you hit the shops with no plan you’ll spend money on things you didn’t intend to buy. Combat temptations with a list, and stick to it.

Tip 3 – Focus on activities rather than gifts

Reflect on the meaning of Christmas. Change your emphasis from gifts to activities and replace commercialism with fun! There are plenty of free Christmas activities:

  • Google: “Free Christmas events near me”
  • Go for an evening walk round the Christmas light displays
  • Google local choirs and get into the christmas community spirit
  • Run a Christmas carol event

Tip 4 – Avoid the big spend at the family Christmas

  • Make gift giving an event, some top ideas we have tried at our family Christmases:

All family members go on a list with a gift buying $ cap, like $25. Each person buys for only one other person.  Or try a Secret Santa where everyone buys a $10 gift. If you set a low $ value people have to get a lot more creative and it can be quite funny the ideas people come up with.

  • Include op-shops such as Vinnies and Salvos in your Christmas shopping. Younger children don’t care if a toy is brand new, and grownups with taste will appreciate an antique or a quirky find that matches their tastes. Sometimes there are even brand new items donated by stores like Miller and Myer.
  • Have a BBQ in the park! Everyone brings less, and it helps spread the food buying around.
  • Make Christmas a pot luck affair and ensure everyone brings a plate, it won’t be an expensive affair for any one family.

Tip 5 – Its always the thought that counts

The difference between a gift that brings a smile and a nod, and one that moves the heart isn’t the price tag but the thought. Handmade gifts are incredibly powerful: Someone gave their precious time and turned it into a gift for you. And in this day and age, time is very precious indeed. Here are five ideas to get your Googling started:

Tip 6 – Look around and Reach out

The most rewarding form of happiness is giving. If you need an emotional boost, find ways to help others this Christmas. There are plenty of people doing it really tough, and choosing to channel the spirit of giving can make a real difference to them and yourself.

  • Build an advent calendar that is about random acts of kindness rather than treats
  • Volunteer…here are some organisations that help out at Christmas:

 www.vaks.com.au – Links people up to soup kitchens

www.volunteeringaustralia.org – Under Find a Volunteer Opportunity, enter Christmas (in keywords) and “Event Volunteering” (in Duration) then select your location and hit search.

www.thesmithfamily.com.au – delivers food hampers to families in need

www.mealsonwheels.org.au – delivers food to people who can’t leave their home, all you need is a car and a driver’s license.

Bring as much connection and meaning to those you love and those who need it this Christmas season! Happy Christmas from us, to you.