Christmas is just four weeks away. TV advertising is in full swing and the festive spirit is bubbling. Christmas is a great time for families and friends to get together. The telly and the shops are full of ideas how to make this time of year ‘even better’. Flashy presents, glitzy decorations, fancy foods, top brand drinks and even new furniture for the family to sit on.

It’s hard not to get carried away.

Per last year’s survey by the Money Advice Trust more than a third of people borrowed money specifically for Christmas. This can be a double whammy. Firstly, there’s the increased spend. If you’re borrowing money to spend on Christmas, it’s money you wouldn’t normally have in your budget. Secondly, there’s the interest that you’ll have to pay on the additional money.

On average a family will spend between £800 and £1000 on Christmas and that can result in a hefty bill that can take the whole of the next year to pay off. Just in time to start it all over again.
So, before you rush into signing up for that new credit card or applying for that loan just sit back and have a think about what you’re doing it for.

Hosting

If it’s your turn to host the family, don’t get dragged into one-upmanship with other hosts. Their circumstances may be entirely different, or they may have borrowed money to do it. Christmas really is all about being together and having fun. You don’t need to spend a fortune on food and drink to do that.

A traditional roast will be appreciated by those lucky enough to be at your table. You don’t need to buy all those extras people only eat at Christmas.

Why not ask your guests to help? Perhaps cook the dinner and ask your guests to bring the starter or the dessert. (Most) People love chipping in on family occasions and it makes it feel much more like a family affair.

Presents

Presents can also be a big headache at Christmas, with technology becoming ever-more disposable, and things like TVs setting expectations higher and higher each year. The trick here is to manage expectations right at the outset.
Maybe you could sit down as a family and talk through how much Christmas costs, and how much more that is than a normal month. Your income doesn’t go up just because it’s Christmas!

Agree as a family to make a short list of things that they would really appreciate and understand they won’t be getting everything on that list. A smaller present will mean a lot more when they understand the true value of it.

Christmas is over all too quickly, followed by a sinking feeling as you wake up on Boxing Day. The realisation that it’s all over for another year… and now you’ve got to pay for it. That’s when you start thinking about all those ‘extra’ presents you bought. Wondering whether they were really appreciated. When you look at the mountains of food left over and the expensive drinks that went untouched.

Concentrate on the things that really make Christmas fun – relaxing with friends and family, playing silly games and, yes, eating and drinking too much. That way your only headache in the morning can be dealt with by an Aspirin!