If you can hear the cha-ching of the cash registers down Main Street and Christmas music jingles already, you know what that means – spending season is upon us. The joyous holiday is here, filling us with a generous nature of buying presents we know will make those around us beam with happiness. It is always fun to hunt for popular gifts. But there comes the eternal conundrum that accompanies this time of year: how much should we spend on Christmas gifts?

What happens in the weeks leading up to Christmas that causes you to spend too much? For starters, a barrage of advertisements sometimes entices you to spend more than you want. The value of online shopping has nearly doubled in just the past three years. And new events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday mean that we spend more in November too, particularly as many shops have moved from one-day to week-long events to tempt us to buy our gifts earlier.

Last year a survey was done on how much we shell out in Europe as the year ends. The results done by statista.com showed in 2017, UK, Spain and Germany came in the top three European countries for spending on Christmas gifts. The average spend last year was £279.43. Consumers in the UK spent the most on clothing and footwear gifts last Christmas, accounting for, accounting for £53.63. Toy purchases will amount to £50.21 on average per consumer.

You may also fall into the trap of comparing how much you spend to others in your inner and outer circles. You could even make a budget. One that is based on how much you’d actually like to spend. But then the big question is, how much should realistically leave your pocket for the family, friends and coworkers in your life? There’s the stocking fillers for your children, presents for nieces and nephews, siblings, even cousins, adding up to £30. And don’t forget you may be tempted to buy that piece of jewellery or an expensive watch for your partner that stretches anything from £100-£500. Then on top of that there’s the obligatory presents – either a bottle of wine, scented candle or donation to the collection for your children’s teachers or charities for the homeless. The list is growing and soon the bills start arriving, and you realise you’re burning through money like chestnuts left too long over an open fire.

The Christmas message of being generous tends to lend a false sense of security that it is ok to spend because, after all, ´tis the season of kindness. Gibraltar is known for its generous nature, but dealing with debt in the bleak months of January can turn the kindest soul into a bundle of nerves.

Gift giving is, and always will be, subjective. For each unique person, an original present is required, and depending on long you’ve known someone, that present can increase spending. As long as it’s motivated by the joy of giving rather than the pressure, and it doesn’t take a toll on your finance for the rest of the year, there’s no ‘wrong’ amount to spend on Christmas. Just remember, presents do not need to be expensive.

5 Ways to Budget for Christmas

  • Kelly Whalen, author of money-saving blog The Centsible Life, advises to sign up to an online tracking service such as Mint – a holiday-budget calculator. Depending on your gross annual income, the service will help you allocate your money.
  • Eliminate last-minute shopping splurges by putting your shopping dates on the calendar.
  • Ask the people around you what they would like to receive. No point spending £30 or £40 on something that will not be used or even recycled.
  • Make a list of who you need to buy for and whenever you see goods at decent prices, grab, wrap, and hide them away in the secret ‘Christmas cupboard’.
  • Bring cash so that you don’t exceed the spending limit on your credit card.

Whatever you do, aim to create experiences and not just give ‘stuff’. Items come and go, but experiences create emotional connections that stay with us for a lifetime. In the end not only will you be giving better gifts, but you might save some money in the long run. Below are 16 thrifty pocket-friendly gift ideas:

  • Pay for a babysitter session
  • Homemade soaps
  • Scented candles
  • Natural sugar scrubs
  • Handmade chocolates
  • Making your own jewellery
  • Homemade food hampers
  • Sweet jars
  • Photo collage or album
  • Knit a Christmas jumper
  • Gift cards and vouchers
  • Collecting treasured family recipes in a pretty box
  • Christmas decorations
  • DIY pocket hand warmers
  • Christmas lanterns
  • DIY advent calendars

 

BY RESHAM KHIANI