Christ­mas about heart not money

South Waikato News - - Backyard Banter -

Christ­mas can be filled with love and not end up be­ing too ex­pen­sive, writes

Christ­mas has never been a cheap af­fair. Just ask the wise men. I can’t imag­ine gold, frank­in­cense and myrrh can be bought with spare change.

It’s easy to get caught up in the com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of Christ­mas. Don’t get me wrong, I like ex­pen­sive presents as much as the next per­son. But that’s not what the fes­tive sea­son should be about, and if you do some plan­ning Christ­mas doesn’t have to break the bank.

Bak­ers can turn piles of flour into culinary works of mouth­wa­ter­ing art. Pho­tog­ra­phers and artists can turn empty walls into vi­brant art gal­leries. Use your hands to make gifts filled with love, and don’t be afraid to look out­side the square. If you’re the lemon curd king, ask your com­mu­nity on Neigh­bourly if any­one has any lemons go­ing – and of­fer them a few jars of lemony good­ness as pay­ment. Ev­ery grand­par­ent loves framed art made by their mokop­una, so ask around for old photo and pic­ture frames that can be painted and re­pur­posed.

Potlucks are the new five­course ban­quets. If you’re host­ing Christ­mas lunch, ask ev­ery­one to bring a plate. Shar­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity of feed­ing a com­mune not only splits the cost, it gives un­der­cover chefs the chance to con­trib­ute too. If you want to avoid lunch con­sist­ing of 12 chick­ens and no salad, think about as­sign­ing dishes and pur­chases to ev­ery­one. And if you’re not a fan of dishes, go one step fur­ther and or­gan­ise a pic­nic.

Shop­ping the sales is a great way to make in­ex­pen­sive gifts look any­thing but. Mak­ing the most of the sales might in­volve a bit of for­ward think­ing but start­ing to shop in Septem­ber will mean you’ll be done by Novem­ber, so not only will you save money, you’ll also miss the crowds.

My family is tiny so this would never work for us, but Se­cret Santa is a great way for big fam­i­lies to still en­joy ex­chang­ing presents with­out giv­ing their wal­lets a heart at­tack. Set a de­cent limit (say, $100), choose a name out of a hat (after mak­ing sure ev­ery­one’s been in­cluded), then en­joy find­ing an awe­some present for just one per­son in­stead of try­ing to fig­ure out how you’re go­ing to af­ford buy­ing presents for all 32 of your im­me­di­ate family mem­bers.

If you’re a New Year’s res­o­lu­tions kind of per­son, add ‘‘save for next Christ­mas’’ to your 2017 list. Call me over-pre­pared but I’ve al­ready opened an ac­count la­belled ‘‘Yule­tide/ Sum­mer 2017’’. If I put away $20 ev­ery week, a grand will slowly but surely ac­cu­mu­late to cover my fes­tive and sum­mer ex­penses.

Christ­mas done wrong can be in­cred­i­bly stress­ful. But Christ­mas done right can be filled with love that wasn’t that ex­pen­sive. Don’t let the fi­nan­cial pressure of De­cem­ber get to you this year, be­cause do­ing things on the cheap doesn’t mean Christ­mas has to feel cheap.


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