YOU can’t buy the perfect Christmas – that’s the message from a debt charity which today released its top tips of staying in the black over the festive season.
Christians Against Poverty, which has a centre in Rugby, sees people through the year who have reached a crisis point in their finances, most commonly through job loss, low income, illness or relationship breakdown.
“We love Christmas,” said Andrew Lewis, centre manager in Rugby.
“The problem is we are sold this line that the perfect Christmas is something we should be buying and that causes more stress than celebration.”
CAP’s advice for a debt free Christmas is:
1. Agree on a plan to stop overspending. Do a ‘secret Santa’, agree on a set amount each or a ‘just for the kids’ rule.
2. If children have their heart set on something out of your price range, club together with relatives.
3. Short of a new Christmas outfit? Get together with mates for a swapping party.
4. If you’re doing the meal, ask guests to each contribute something.
5. Aim to only buy the food you will actually eat and decide what you will do with leftovers.
6. Home-made goodies always go down well – cupcakes, chocolate truffles, shortbread, jam. All are cheap to make and, wrapped with cellophane and ribbon, make great presents.
7. Your time and thoughtfulness are every bit as valuable as your money. Instead of presents, offer vouchers for gardening, washing the car, a few hours cleaning, ironing or making someone’s favourite cake or snack.
8. So many people live alone – a cheery visit from you is worth more than any present.
9. Spend time focusing on what you can enjoy at no cost and make Christmas really special: watching your kids in the school nativity; watching the lights get switched on; enjoying Christmas carols in church; dressing the tree; playing games.
10. Never take out credit or be tempted by a Christmas loan – you don’t know what the New Year will bring.