Bad Santa – How to scale back Christmas without turning into the Grinch

With ever increasing commercialism and the pressure of social media it’s no surprise that parents are beginning to feel frazzled and stressed about Christmas like never before.

We’ve put together some ideas to scale back on the pressure and expectations so that everyone in the family will enjoy Christmas more.

Ban Presents?

Does the very thought of how much you’ll fork out on Christmas presents bring you out in a rash? The joy of giving is diluted if the amount we spend leaves us stressing or, even worse, in a debt that parents spend the first few months of the year trying to claw back. Martin Lewis has a radical solution. He thinks we should ban buying gifts for adults altogether. He wrote in a blog spot:

‘I think it’s time to launch a manifesto to ban many Christmas presents … Whether it’s a naff pair of socks from Aunty Joan or (novelty items) from our workmates, unused gifts are sent all the time to fulfil seasonal obligations. We’re spending money on unneeded, unwanted and unused goods; that’s not good for our finances, and doesn’t help the environment, as it just clogs up landfills’

If the thought of an outright ban is too much for you to bear then why not set up a family secret Santa and allocate one member for each to buy for (with an agreed limit)?

Limit children’s expectations

If your child’s wish list is as long as your arm and full of eye-wateringly expensive items then it’s wise to explain to them that they won’t get everything. Think back to your own childhood when you circled countless toys in the Argos catalogue. You didn’t expect to receive every last one of them and were thrilled to unwrap one or two from under the tree. The only difference today is the pressure parents feel to spend and give. There’s a growing trend on social media, which is the ‘four present rule’. It sets a clear expectation for both parents and children. Would you follow this rule this year?

Remind them how lucky they are

With the ever-increasing commercialism it’s the perfect time to talk to your child about those less fortunate. There are so many ways you can give back; whether it’s preparing a box full of essential items for a Shoebox Appeal or just baking cakes to give to elderly neighbours. As your child knows they will be unwrapping new toys and gifts on the big day you could also suggest they have a clear out and donate any they no longer play with to their local Barnardo’s store.

Write a list (with a budget)

This easier said than done, especially once you start browsing the plethora of shiny goods and get distracted by little extras. You can download really helpful apps (such as Santa’s Bag or The Christmas List), which keep an eye on what you’ve spent so far and tell you how much you’ve got left. They are really quick and easy to use as you shop and seeing the total on screen really helps you keep tabs on your spending.

Cards and wrap that give back

Christmas cards and giftwrap are on everyone’s festive shopping list. If you buy these items from charity shops (such as Barnardo’s) then each purchase will give a little back. While you are there why not have a look round the preloved clothes, toys, books and knick-knacks. You may find some really unique and special pieces that would make great gifts. It’s a great way to shop ethically and push back against the commercialism of Christmas.

Does the run up to Christmas make you feel stressed? Do you worry about how much money you spend? Join the chat over on our Facebook page.