That Cheap Christmas Thing

Around this time last year I unleashed a fiendish plan on my unsuspecting family and friends. I told them that we weren't going to spend more than £2 ($3) on any adult at Christmas, and they were similarly limited in their gift budgets for us. We wanted people to make things, give service, or regift old items to us instead. And we would do the same for them. The idea was that rather than Christmas being a financial burden and a commercial exercise it would become a time we could focus more on the Saviour.

Well, Christmas came and went, and now people are asking me, "How did it go, that cheap Christmas thing?"

And the answer is that it went really, really well. I got some gifts which I was absolutely thrilled with. A friend knitted me a beautiful bag. My father-in-law gave me some delicious home-made marmalade. I got lots of elastics for my hair which is fantastic because I am forever losing them, and my husband's best friend used his DIY skills to build a bookcase in an alcove for us.

As for what I gave, I got some major bargains in charity shops including a new-in-the-box jewellery box and a complete Chinese meal set (crockery, chopsticks and bamboo mats in the unopened box) for £1 each. In the wonderful Poundland I found 2013 calendars then raided Facebook for pictures of the families I was giving them to and gave them personalised calendars. I found that Primark sells touch-screen gloves for £1.50, and my husband (an accountant) did some tax returns for free.

I have one particular friend for whom I buy a funny t-shirt every single year (it's what he asks for). I agonised over how to do it for under £2. Then I entered a competition to win a t-shirt, and won. Job done.

So all in all it was a successful and fun experiment. But probably not one I'll be repeating. It did rather tax my little brain to the limit trying to come up with great presents for less than the cost of a Happy Meal, and I saw lots of lovely things I would have bought in a normal year. We ended the year safely in credit and with December having been no more expensive than any other month (especially since we had been collecting Morrison's Savings Stamps all year for our Christmas groceries).

We didn't do it just because we wanted to save money, however, and it did serve to show me what gift giving is all about. We give gifts to people not to show off how rich we are, but as an expression of our love for them. I may have spent less than £2 on the materials for the cross-stitched family tree I made for my brother and sister-in-law, but I spent about 100 hours of my time, and spent much of that time thinking about them, and about what great people they are and how happy I am to be related to them, and remembering time spent together.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what Christmas is all about.


  1. How wonderful!! Don't know if I could do it though, sounds hard lol!!!!


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