Consumerism and Xmas

Despite the current credit crunch, a visit to my local supermarket last Sunday, was a nightmare. People were piling their trolleys high with the usual festive food and drink. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people enjoying Christmas, but how much of this really necessary. How much will go in the bin on January the 2nd when we all decide that our waist lines need to shrink. The cost to our bank balances is one thing, but the cost to the environment in the long term will be much higher.

For several years I have tried to do my bit for the environment, recyling as much as possible. Only using the car for necessary trips and buying compost that wasn't peat based etc. Recently our household income decreased and I have been forced to live on a much stricter budget. Intially I thought it was going to be dreadful, but after living this way for the past six months, I have now realised that despite doing my bit for the environment for several years I was very consumer led and wasteful.

A typical example of my wastefulness was my weekly food shop, every week I would fill my freezer and fridge with loads of stuff and every week stuff would be thrown, because it was past its sell by date or had gone off. My fridge was so full that I just simply didn't realise what I had. Several months of ago freezer died and fridge was on its way out. Now having a limited income couldn't afford to purchase both together, so plumped for a new fridge with a large ice box, thinking oh well I manage, I get a freezer in a few months time. Currently, I still have just a fridge with a large ice box, and do I miss a freezer. Well the answer is no, we purchase only what we need, and now never waste anything.

In the last six months I have become a bargain hunter and a whole lot happier. I have everything I can possibly need, I have a lovely hubby, a great dog and a roof over my head. This xmas will be a simply one, spent in part on our own and in part with family. I like many others will enjoy the usual xmas goodies, but have not gone overboard. The children have all been looked after as have all my doggy friends.

To those of you on this message board like me who are on a limited budget, I hope like me you are managing too. I never thought I could be happy on less income, but I am. It has just made me realise how previously I was so wasteful, and thoughtless about how I treated money.

Best of all, I won't be looking at the bills in January and worrying about how I am going to pay them.

To those of you on here who might be feeling the pressure of Xmas, try not too, I understand it is particularly difficult to those of you with Children. But stick to your budget and stick to your guns, and don't go overboard. Xmas is about spending time with family and friends, that otherwise you might not get to see. True friends and family will appreciate the thought that goes into a gift and not the amount you spend.

Last of all call on an elderly or lone person this xmas, say hello, if you can invite them round for a cup of tea and a chat. Many people face a lonely xmas because their loved one has passed away and they have no family. This could be the best xmas gift to give, and the best thing you could receive is a smile and thank you.

10 Replies

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  • Thoughtful post Katrina.

    I am feeling the credit crunch too this year. The kids only want me at home for christmas I have not taken them at their word but I have cut by 50% the amount I spend on them.

    I am experimenting with different presents this year: the core will be the breakfast hampers

    For my mum and stepdad I am puttng together a french breakfast hamper, with a small jar of nice coffee, and small cafeteire (bought on ebay) some bake yourself croissants, a couple of small jams, some cooked ham and some cheese and a half bottle of bucksfizz. My grandad and aunty Mary are having the posh english one with some nice tea in theirs, with some finest porridge oats, some smoked salmon and some eggs (for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs) and small homemade loaf. My sister gets the American breakfast with bucks fizz, muffins, bagals, salmon and eggs and I am going to make some hollandase souce so she can have eggs benidict and some posh hot chocolate. And finally my children with partners are having an english breakfast one with a bottle of bucks fizz, some bacon, eggs, sausages, tomato etc and I bought a ""fried egg shaper"" in a heart shape to put in their hampers.

    As a varient my dad is getting the a cream tea hamper, I have brought 2 nice cups, saucers and side plates, and he will have some homemade scones, and shortbread with some tea clotted cream and home made jam.

    Not the traditonal present but one that will be put together by me and have some homemade bits in them as well.

    Anyone else got good present ideas they could share here.

    Bex

  • We too are managing our much reduced budget but am just grateful that matt is around for it after his motorbike accident in june! We are going down the hamper route this year simply because they are cheap but personal! I am making loads of different cookies and muffins and mince pies to go in them so each is different. I found some really nice really cheap cake bags and boxes in sainsburys the other day to wrap them up in too. We are making the xmas cards this year making reindeer and angel designs with Alys' handprints.

    Love xmas can't believe its come around again so quick! Hope u do manage to escape Bex and anyone else stuck

    x

  • Hello Katina,

    I have been living like that for years and I am bewildered by the trolley loads of complete junk, in some cases that I see going round the supermarkets.

    I eat virtually all the food I buy, stale bread, if any left goes to the birds. Use the car only when needed,but do combine journeys - I fling out the glass for recycling on the way to work. I got a smaller black wheelie bin from the council as I only produce 2 carrier size bags if that of rubbish in two weeks, the rest is recycled.

    This year I have really stuck to what people have requested for christmas with not extras.

    I too have a limited budget but am no way struggling to meet costs, though I will probably gawp at the gas bill when it arrives! I wonder at the electricity bills of all the people who have light up their houses like blackpool Tower ( appologies to anyone here who has a lit up house!)

    I feel Christmas has got so comercial! I celebrate christmas for the real reason - The birth of Christ but I understand that some peole here celebrate it as a winter / pagan festival........... have we lost the true meaning of these festivals?

    Anyway, will climb off my high horse!

    Kate

    xxx

  • I too am on a limited budget and this year for christmas I have made several of my christmas presents, friends are getting hand knitted scarves and pieces of jewelry I have made. I am also experimenting with cork coasters - paining designs on them and then varnishing. I didn't get myself organised in time this year craft wise, but I am going to be making lavender bags, hair ties, and other bits and pieces.

    I am going to try and expand my knitting repetoire to include hats, mittens, maybe even gloves and socks.

    I am hoping to make quite a few items through Jan to Sept next year and I would like then to sell some items, but have to check out the benefits and what i am and am not allowed to do.

    Another good idea is get cheap wood picture frames and decorate them yourself. Gift bags can be made out of offcuts of vinyl wallpaper - haven't experimented with this yet.

    It is possible to give nice presents on a limited budget, I have 20 people on my present list and each person has 2 presents and I have spent in total, including, wrapping paper, cards, stamps, p&p, only £17 over my original budget as I hadn't factored p&p into my costs. I have shopped around on ebay as well as other discount internet sites. Many of my craft materials are included in this final total but will be used for other presents so if I removed those from the equation I would be £25 under budget.

    As to supermarket shopping, I have two deliveries a week - I''m not able to get out to the shops at this time of year - and I don't throw any food out because it is out of date. I plan my meals on a Sunday night so never buy more than I need. I make use of lots of the special offers - I haven't had to buy washing up liquid for months, or baked beans. Because I live on my own I find having a freezer essential as I often bulk buy and then separate out into individual portions. I check the freezer every Sunday when I do my menu planning.

    I used to make batches of spag bol, chilli con carne, stews etc and then split them into portions - using plastic containers. I used to use those tim foil dishes but realised that plastic containers were better as re-useable, washable etc etc.

    I am hoping to get back to this but at the moment I can't really manage to cook food from scratch so am relying on ready meals.

    I go to my parents for christmas and we don't go mad with food buying, we have a wonderful meal but the table is not groaning under the weight of food, we treat it as a sunday roast. We split the three big things - christmas cake, mince pies and christmas pud between myself, my mum and my aunt - we take turns in making each one, this year I am on mince pies, my aunt is making the christmas cake and mum is making the christmas pud.

    For us christmas is about being with family as it is a time tinged with sadness as my grandpa died on 12 december 2006. We rejoice the fact that we are warm and safe and together.

    Merry Christmas to you all, I hope that you have a wonderfully happy day with your family and friends. But I also ask that you spare a thought for our soldiers away from their families this year.

    love and hugs to all

    Rusty

  • Thank you all for replying to this thread, I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who is being sensible. I will look forward to reading your posts, and any little hints or ideas in making up little gifts at little cost will be appreciated by many.

    For those of you into crafty type stuff, the following website is quite good for ideas. Ask.com. Have had some lovely jewerlly making ideas from there, other crafts are also included.

  • It seems there is a wealth of talent out there in AUK land. I wonder if we could somehow arrange craft days or weekends even where we all get together and swap ideas and teach each other new skills. I have just booked travel lodge hotel rooms in their sale for £12 per room per night, and an extra £15 for evening meal and breakfast. If they do something similar later in the year perhaps I could let you know and we could have a craft get together most of these hotels have meeting rooms you can hire I am sure we could sweet talk them into letting us having a room at a resonalble price or there is always the lounge/bar/receptionm area. I know it is extra pennies to shell out but treat it like a little holiday I have long thought there should be a KA for adults. Of course you could also think how much you will save by making presents.

    Bex

    mind full of random ideas

  • i think kate is right. People have lost the true meaning of christmas. It is after all a celebration of christs birth and a time to remember family matters. Its always been an important thing in my family that christmas was always spent all together the presents are fab but we dont mind what we get really if anything. Obviously as kid's this was different but as young adults my cousins and brother and i are all just pleased to be spending christmas together. This year however is tinged with sadness as my grandma died in feb this year. It will be the first christmas without her. We as a family learnt this year more than any other that family moments are so precious and everyone should be cherished. Id eat anything for my christmas dinner if it meant i could spend the day wit my grandma and the rest of my family... Its been a very financially strained year aswel so its a skinny christmas on the presents front i too make things but have always made cards and stuff for people each year. Make the most of your family moments thats what christmas is all about! Xxxx

  • Horray sensible people about!!!

    Having taken a trip to Tescos with a friend earlier today(car share plus she helps me out) i was shocked at the shopping trolleys i saw with boxes of extravagance.

    Food wise , i get quite bit bit of my fresh veg from a local farm shop which a)is better cos its organic and b)it actually lasts longer!!! I get alot of non perishable on specials and i never buy more than we need for each week. Christmas is the same , we dont buy any extra 'treats' for 3 days we are at Mum and Dads but xmas eve we got to mass the all the family are back to ours for dips, pizza and mice pies(all home made).

    The kids were shocked this year when i gave them their advent calenders they were all hand made using last yrs cards and net bags of Chocolate split up but they have been singing their praises to friends which made me chuffed!!

    Present wise each child will get exactly the same amount spent on them and some of the pressie is practical as is Hubby's, this has reduced but we never had the money to OTT like some of their friends.

    I make all my own cards and have been much more careful on how much i spend, instead using cheaper techniques such as dry embossing , instead of sending the family newsletter i have e mailed as many as i can and most of my friends h

    at church have all agreed not to send cards but instead to donate to a church based charity so for me HCPT.

    I emphasise to my kids what Christmas is really about and Rosie had to write a piece at school about the true meaning of Christmas v todays Christmas and got top mark thanks to our approach at home. We have a Nativity scene in both our downstairs rooms and the kids each have their own miniature one ones, an advent candle and we try to go to Mass as a family , sadly on Christmas day Andy is working but i will take the kids.

    It really doesn't have to be commercial to be special

  • Love the idea of crafty weekends Bex. I would be interested in doing something like this. KA for adults - would be such fun! and I don't see why it would have to be expensive. I really would love some help with card making, mine look too home made - ie rubbish.

    rusty

  • Wow we are a resourceful Lot!

    I made some cards this year.

    Embossed cards by drawing on the printed side with a ball point pen of Ventolin foils! Fold the edges in and stick on to plain card or insert in window cards!

    Oh, and I printed off lots of photos, small, of three King penguins & stuck them to card too!

    Will do the hamper thing next year me thinks, sound very nice!

    Kate

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