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Don’t let ‘‘Big Re­tail’’ hi­jack Christ­mas

Keep gift-giv­ing mod­er­ate Fo­cus on max­imis­ing mer­ri­ness per dol­lar spent

again! Now, presents get bought early, and stored in the present cup­board.

Fo­cus on tra­di­tions you love, which you will find are ‘‘do­ing’’ tra­di­tions, not buy­ing tra­di­tions. For me, it’s mak­ing mince­meat, dress­ing the Christ­mas tree, and steam­ing and set­ting fire to a pud­ding.

Make Christ­mas a church day. I love church at Christ­mas. The wife and chil­dren go. I sit in the gar­den with a book and tea. Church re­minds us what Je­sus would have thought of com­mer­cial­is­ing his birth­day.

Be out­doors. Gar­dens, beaches, and parks are bet­ter places than the space di­rectly in front of the TV. Break­fast at the beach tastes bet­ter than break­fast at home, even if the food is the same. Out­doors chil­dren are happy chil­dren.

The qual­ity of a Christ­mas is not mea­sured by how much you spend. Chil­dren want happy, un­stressed par­ents more than ex­pen­sive presents. Dial back the gift-giv­ing. Peo­ple who never get gifts in­clude neigh­bours, work­mates, adult friends and your chil­dren’s friends.

Set a bud­get. Make it stretch. Join a su­per­mar­ket sav­ings scheme, use amassed re­wards points to buy gifts, etc. Fo­cus on get­ting max­i­mum mer­ri­ness for each dol­lar.

Go su­per-fru­gal the week be­fore Christ­mas to free up money. Eat from your cup­boards, or make it a ‘‘pota­toes and …’’ week. Booze costs, so ease up. My rule on Christ­mas day is no booze til sun­down.

Some money blogs ad­vise sell­ing un­wanted stuff on­line to make money to buy more stuff to give as gifts to peo­ple who al­ready have lots of stuff. No, no, no! A cy­cle of buy­ing and sell­ing stuff is stupid. Give only what is wanted. Re-gift stuff you don’t want. When in doubt, give food as gifts.

Avoid gift cards. They are im­per­sonal and peo­ple judge you on how much you have given. Each year brings ‘‘in­fla­tion’’ pres­sure.

Don’t try to make Christ­mas stretch for days and days. Christ­mas is Christ­mas Eve and Christ­mas Day. The rest are just days.

Re­mem­ber, the Christ­mas you give your kids sets the tone for all their fu­ture ex­pec­ta­tions. Don’t lum­ber them with fes­ti­val of re­tail ex­cess.


Don’t buy into re­tail­ers’ vi­sion of a good Christ­mas. Dream up your own.

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