Winter 2022 issue
Est. Reading: 2 minutes

Asking for a Friend

The increasing price of everything is causing a real problem for me especially as the festive season approaches. I just can't afford to buy my family presents and deal with all the expense of social events. When I see a Christmas advert, I just want to crawl under my duvet and stay there till January. How can I handle this?

You are not alone in worrying about these impending costs. Sadly, many will get into debt trying to create a 'fairy tale' Christmas but these are uncertain times and every penny counts. The first thing is to have a straightforward conversation with your family and friends about not exchanging gifts this year. Lots of people are doing this. Agree just to give to children in the family or adopt a Secret Santa approach whereby you buy a gift for just one person for a fixed amount. The likelihood is they will be relieved that you have raised the issue. 

You could agree to gift skills, time or labour to each other. Provide a baby-sitting voucher, an IOU to weed someone's garden, offer your DIY handyperson skills to someone who would appreciate some fixing in their home, or a come-dine-with-me meal. Offer a skill – a music lesson, a cooking/sewing/knitting session. Or simply undertake to meet for a walk with a flask and some biscuits. We will have to be imaginative this year!

For people living alone or not able to be with their family, buying for one can be quite expensive. If this is you, look around and see if others are in a similar position to you and suggest coming together. Or spread the cost by buying an item each week or spotting bargains for your freezer. 

If you usually host guests over the festive season, share the costs. Give everyone an item to prepare, or buy and bring, or a job to do to contribute such as being the washer-upper! You may have to be upfront and ask for a financial contribution to the cost of the meal. It shouldn't all be on you. If you are going to be a guest in someone's home, quietly offer a financial contribution or ask what you can bring along. We can feel we have failed if we cannot provide these extras for our families. But giving each other time – playing board games, walking, watching tv together - is what will be remembered. (Do you remember what you got or bought others last year? Probably not!)

So you’re not alone in wanting to disappear under a duvet. But do come out to be with your loved ones and aim for a modest festive season. Think how good you will feel to have more money in your pocket in the new year (or at least no debt.) And as for those January sale bargains - don't get carried away. It's not a bargain if you don't really need it!

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