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simplify your Christmas this year

Christmas is nearly here!  The hunt for gifts has begun and you may be already decking out your house with sparkles and lights.  Perhaps you are already planning the food, the colour themes, and visualised how the gifts will be wrapped this year (or perhaps you're like me and these things are all last minute spur of the moment, what-ever-you-have-at-hand decisions). The shops have already begun playing carols and window displays are looking very festive indeed. We are encouraged by magazines, movies and malls to spend up big at Christmas on decorations, gifts, food and accessories. But how much do you really have to spend to make it a memorable day spent with loved ones?

Here are some tips to keep your spending down and reduce wastage this Christmas

  • Begin saving for your Christmas expenditure each January – setting aside money in advance so you have funds to draw on for gifts and holidays – a ‘christmas club’ account for example – or just put aside $25 a week into a sock for 10 months and by the end of October you’ll have $1000 to spend over the Christmas period.  Make setting up a Select Encompass Christmas Club Account one of your New Year's Resolutions! 
  • Set yourself a total budget for all of your Christmas expenditure.  Whether it is $250, $500 or $1000 make sure you include all the gifts you have to buy for and include any other Christmas expenses such as bottles of wine, food or decorations you plan to buy, as well as accommodation or other holiday expenses if going away.
  • Set a gift budget per person (before you shop) and stick to it. Don’t get caught up on the idea that spending more means you care more, it really doesn’t. There are other ways to show you care. Actions speak louder than presents!
  • Hand-make gifts – give jars of homemade jams, relish, muesli, bath salts; give pots of geraniums or succulents from your garden; make biscuits, candles, pillow covers or home brewed beer. These all make personal and unique gifts.
  • Give practical rather than decorative gifts.
  • Support local, handmade, or fair trade when looking for gifts. Try local markets, small boutiques or shops such as Oxfam for gifts that are unique and high quality.
  • Give experiences rather than physical gifts.  Make up vouchers for family and friends and offer to take them out for a meal, provide baby sitting services, cook for them for a night, give them a massage or take them to a gallery, movie or concert. The memories formed from an experience will be much richer than a dust collector sitting in the back of a cupboard.
  • Play ‘secret santa’ type games on Christmas day or among friends - this reduces the number of gifts you have to buy, plus adds an element of fun into the day
  • Let your loved ones know what you want for Chritsmas in plenty of time – to reduce the chances of receiving items you don’t need which is a waste of money for them and creates guilt for you. Don’t be afraid to ask your family to all contribute to one item you want. You will get something you want, their cost is reduced as they are all chipping in, and the hassle of each of them trying to find something is eliminated. Winning all round!

Your family and friends don’t want you getting into debt for the sake of a few extra gifts or big glitzy decorations. Spending quality time with each other and creating fun memories is worth so much, much more.