"It's good to have money and the things money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things money can't buy". George Horace Lorimier – editor-in-chief editor, Saturday Evening Post. USA
Christmas is a wonderful time of year…family, friends, gifts, wine and laughter…At least, that’s the idea, isn’t it? Why is it, then, that so many people feel financially stretched and time-poor throughout the festive season?
There is so much focus on buying presents for everyone that somehow the concept of giving a gift in the pure sense seems to have been lost.
Pressure from retailers and advertising hype, desire for the latest and greatest must-have, and the fear of forgetting a distant friend or relative drives us all towards a spending frenzy which leaves us exhausted and somewhat glad when it’s all over! Sound like anyone you know?
At Get Organised, we are always looking for ways to simplify our lives, and from our experiences, we know that many of you feel the same way. This doesn’t mean stripping away all of the wonderful things that we are lucky enough to enjoy in this country, but learning how to be more selective with what we do choose to have around us.
Buying quality rather than quantity, enjoying experiences as much as ‘things’ and identifying with a lifestyle which supports us, rather than one which we have to work hard to support.
Christmas is a tricky time, where many people feel reluctant or even embarrassed by their lack of enthusiasm or even disdain for the entire concept. It’s sad, isn’t it, that what began as a loving celebration and exchange of genuine thanks has, for many, become an expensive chore. Even the family get-together comes fraught with hard work and stress.
Consider for a moment the gift-giving. If we had the time to really evaluate the sorts of things that a treasured friend may truly want, could we even afford it? So instead, many of us buy something – a gesture, no less, of love, but it is possible that the item may just become something to store, to dust, or (oops!) to return?
Deciding what to give someone is hard work so we’ve put together a few ideas to help you along…
· Listen carefully when a beloved person says the words ‘I’d love……(whatever it is)’. Make a note, if you can, at the time – you may forget later – like forgetting the name of that movie your friend recommended, whilst staring at the rows of DVD’s at the local Video shop! Create a list, or a file, and write it down…soon.
· Consider an ‘experience’ as a gift: a facial, manicure, restaurant gift voucher or a joy flight! Most people treat themselves last (if ever) and rarely get that massage, even when their health insurance has savings covered by it! There are real benefits for treating your loved ones to an experience, like no dusting or storing, and they can be unforgettable times – however, if it’s that joy flight, make sure that they like the idea of flying, to start with!
· What about getting together with relatives or friends and buying the thing that your friend really wants (like a bridge climb!) when you can’t muster all that cash at this time of year. A piece of outdoor furniture – that chaise longue for relaxing that your mum never quite gets around to buying. Try to buy quality and choose for their tastes, not your own.
· The old fashioned Kris Kringle works really well for many people – you know, put your names into a hat, pull one out and that’s the person you’ll be buying for – put a reasonable dollar limit on everyone’s purchase, and stick to it. Many people are relieved when this idea is raised – Wow! A $40 pressie for one person instead of 10! That sounds easy (unless you pull out dear old grandpa’s name, or…he pulls out yours!).
· Delicious food can be a wonderful treat, especially for people who rarely treat themselves, or an elderly relative who has all the things they could want or need. One of our consultants buys her father delicious cheeses, pate, dips, biscuits and chocolates each year – he loves it! Being a pensioner, he would never dream of paying $39.00 a kilo for Jarlsberg or hand-stuffed olives! Yum!
· Magazine subscriptions can be wonderful gifts – the present keeps coming, month after month – delightful! Make sure that you don’t give this to someone who already needs a truck to deal with their outdated interior design magazines from 1982…
· A delicious recipe, hand-written, and presented with the meal. Homemade chocolates or biscuits – make them with the kids! – these are always great to have pre-packaged for that last minute guest or friend who arrives from out of town. Make sure that you have a gift tag tied on, ready to write their name on. I use cut-outs from last year’s Christmas cards, with a hole punched into them.
· One idea I read about was called ‘passing the white elephant’! each year, make it a game to pass on one gift that you have received but, for whatever reason, didn’t need (want, sssh – like?) onto another family member, and make a game out of it…giving a reason, a joke even, about why the next person to receive it has the dubious honour! Takes a bit of courage, but most people prefer the idea of the gift being well received by someone!
Encourage your family to take the wrapping carefully off the gifts, cut or turn over the sticky tape that is on it (so that it doesn’t stick to the paper), fold, and keep for next year – do you really know how much money you spend on paper and cards each year? Or how much energy and toxins go into producing that paper?
At least try to recycle…that will feel good, and save money! Keep a large paper shopping bag to store the paper in, and a basket for all the ribbon. Make sure the bag is in an easy place to reach (don’t make it too hard, or you’ll never do it!). I have some beautiful papers and ribbons in my collection that others have given me.
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