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too late to have an expensive Christmas?

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Planning for Christmas is a lot like planning for retirement. The earlier you start saving, the more money you will have to work with. It’s also the case that the later you start saving, the more you will need to scale back your monetary plans.

If you haven’t got a stash of money hidden away for Christmas 2007, it’s already too late to have an expensive Christmas.

Fortunately, there is a solution.

You don’t need to have an expensive Christmas to have a great Christmas. There are lots of fun, frugal ways to make your Christmas money go further. But all the frugality in the world isn’t enough for you to have a great Christmas. But these four steps might be:

  1. Think about all the traditions and expectations that you and others close to you have
  2. Work out which traditions each member of your immediate family enjoys the most and work out how to do that (frugally).
  3. Work out which expectations mean the most to your immediate family, and add those in.
  4. Skip the rest.

The key is working out what is really important, only making those things a priority and sticking to your guns.

For me, traditions that are important, are:

  • attending a Christmas market
  • getting nice presents for the most important people to me
  • singing some Christmas carols
  • having a Christmas lunch with crackers and Christmas pudding
  • spending Christmas Day with all available siblings
  • catching up with friends during the Christmas season

That’s it. Nothing else gets done unless it’s free and I have the time.

Of course it helps that I’m single so I only have to answer to myself, but if you have a family of two or more, you just need to focus on what it is that each of you really want - if you need to compromise, remember that there’s always next year.

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12 comments for “too late to have an expensive Christmas?”

  1. My aunt decided we needed to start doing crackers as a Christmas tradition. We won’t be with her this year, but I’m tempted to go buy some anyway. After all, what’s better than looking back at family photos in which everyone’s wearing a silly paper hat?

    Posted by E.C. | December 10, 2007, 9:21 pm
  2. Every single family Christmas photo we have involves those hats. In both my parent’s houses they are compulsory at Christmas. And at New Year. And if we have any crackers left over, we’ll be doing them at Easter too.

    Posted by plonkee | December 10, 2007, 9:59 pm
  3. I like your answer. Seems sensible.

    Micah wants to know if “cracker” is some British word for something other than cracker. Otherwise he says “What kind of pudding is it?” I think he thinks crackers and pudding would be gross. Of course, most of our crackers are salty–which would be weird with a sweet pudding.

    Well, the Queen’s speech is free if you have a tv set already. :)

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | December 11, 2007, 12:43 am
  4. I agree, in the last couple of years I’ve limited my Christmas traditions to a carol concert, going to look at Christmas lights and the traditional dinner with crackers. This year courtesy of my parents and brother I am re-introducing the ballet tradition (sadly lacking in recent years). A bonus for me is that living away from my family means that I shop early and ship all my presents in October, so December is very relaxing.
    @ Micah, via Mrs Micah, in this case a cracker is a Christmas cracker- a bizarre paper and cardboard novelty that you pull to open with a bang, it should contain a very poor joke, a cheap plastic item (often a keyring) and a thin paper crown to be worn the rest of the day- I love them! They are hard to find in North America being a very British tradition you can look them up on wikipedia.

    Posted by Looby | December 11, 2007, 1:32 am
  5. Incidentally, pudding means dessert, not necessarily the gloppy stuff we Americans think of. I believe a Christmas pudding is generally steamed and somewhat cake-like (at least ours was).

    Posted by E.C. | December 11, 2007, 4:56 am
  6. Yes, pudding does indeed mean dessert, and Xmas pudding is like a steamed fruit cake. I think it’s delicious, but I did once serve it to a French exchange student (at her request) and she absolutely hated it.

    We have crackers as a food that goes with cheese as well - I imagine they are like the crackers you’re thinking of Mrs. Micah. And you remembered about the Queen’s speech :) .

    Posted by plonkee | December 11, 2007, 9:17 am
  7. I know what Christmas crackers are(you can buy them at The Bay) and Christmas puddings (though I’ve never tried one), but what’s a Christmas market?

    Posted by Monica | December 11, 2007, 5:01 pm
  8. In Germany they traditionally have special Christmas markets, with stalls that sell wooden toys, gluhwein, traditional sweets, crafts and so on. For the last few years, Germans have been coming to British cities and doing the same things.

    Posted by plonkee | December 11, 2007, 9:49 pm
  9. Hmm. I love cheese and crackers. Do you get cheese along with your pudding? That would rock!

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | December 11, 2007, 11:36 pm
  10. Actually I think in Yorkshire they serve cheese with Xmas pudding (probably Wensleydale). Otherwise the traditional Xmas cheese is Stilton. Which I hate, because it smells so strong.

    Posted by plonkee | December 11, 2007, 11:54 pm

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