Money and Life
(Financial Planning Association of Australia)
Christmas is a wonderful time of year in Australia, filled with summer foods, decorations and of course, gift giving. This year will feel even sweeter for many, as friends and family reunite for the first time in months, if not years. Here are a few ideas to help you stretch your Christmas gift budget further, so you can enjoy more family time, without the financial hangover.
For many people this Christmas will be one to remember, as they reunite with loved ones after months of lockdowns, and nearly two years of closed international borders.
It’s no surprise then that we could be headed for another mammoth year of Christmas shopping. The Australian Retail Association (ARA) is forecasting a spending surge to match 2020, which was officially the biggest on record. Consumers splashed out more than $55 billion last Christmas, after enduring a harrowing 12 months of COVID-19.
Yet, after a year when both the pandemic, and environmental issues, have taken centre stage, is all this spending in our best interest?
Overspending at Christmas time is commonplace in Australia, with many people taking on debt that they have no way to repay.
Add to that, global supply issues have worsened in recent months, which means we’re likely to face shipping delays and product shortages this Christmas. The ARA says that could lead to higher prices at the register.
So if you’d like to avoid a budget blowout and have a more ‘conscious’ Christmas this year, here a few alternative ideas to help you celebrate.
1. Buy local
If you want to avoid price rises and shipping delays this silly season (not to mention helping the planet) one of the best things you can do is buy locally. By purchasing from small businesses, artisans and producers in your local area, you’ll help to create jobs and keep more of the money in your community.
Local suppliers often also have different and unique products for sale that aren’t available from national chains. So look out for your local Christmas market, craft fair or farmers market, or choose gifts from a small businesses nearby.
2. Get creative
If you enjoy making things, this is for you. What could embody the spirit of giving more than creating your own beautiful handmade gifts? This is the perfect activity to do with kids (or without!).
Baked goods, scrapbooks, drawings, paintings, jewellery, soaps, candles, even face masks can all be made. Not only will you save money, giving will feel more meaningful when you’ve put your own time into it.
3. Give an experience
Even better than material goods, why not give the gift of an experience? Experiences are more memorable, offering the recipients a chance to connect and enjoy themselves. The possibilities are endless, so you’re sure to find something that suits. You could go traditional with restaurant vouchers, movie tickets, zoo or aquarium passes, or more unusual, like hot air ballooning, art or cooking classes or even a weekend away.
4. Give your time
If you can’t afford an elaborate gift, you still have something everyone needs – time! Giving your time without expecting anything in return is the perfect way to embrace the spirit of the holidays. Perhaps you could gift an elderly relative with some help around the house, offer to babysit your sister’s kids for a night, finish a DIY project for your mum, or stock someone’s freezer with enough meals for a week. There are lots of thoughtful and creative options that will keep your budget intact.
5. Make a donation
If the people you love truly don’t need anything, perhaps they’d appreciate you donating a gift on their behalf. Here are a few options:
Give the gift of learning to a child in need through The Smith Family’s charity gift range.
Help end global poverty with a gift from Oxfam’s charity gift shop.
Support equality for girls around the world through Plan International’s Christmas Appeal.
Remember, less is more
Aussies are a generous lot, and we’re each planning to spend $726 on gifts alone this Christmas! Now we all want to give people the world, but perhaps it’s worth taking that more literally this year. In most cases, one simple gift is enough and can even be more appreciated. You’ll be doing them, the environment, and your budget a big favour.
Of course, if you’d prefer to focus on spending time together rather than doing the Christmas shopping, that’s ok too! Discuss how you feel with those closest to you and let them know you’ll be prioritising time together over physical gifts. It could help you start the new year in a better financial position than ever.