Christmas is looming and what is meant to be a time of joy and festivity can be overshadowed by a sense of dread on how earth we’re all going to be able to afford it. According to research conducted for the Commonwealth Bank, the average Queensland adult spends more than $500 on Christmas presents alone. Add on the money spent on extra food and drink and the sum grows on average to around $1,000 every Queenslander spends each Christmas.
Many Queensland families feel the pinch on any average day, even without the pressures of a modern Christmas. Our own research in 2015 found that at some point in the past 12 months, 30% of parents in Queensland were not able to pay utility bills on time and 23% had pawned or sold something to make money.
But don’t worry – you don’t need to cancel Christmas in order to save money. You can still give at Christmas without having to spend a lot. Here are a few ideas about meaningful gifts you can give to the people in your life, without breaking the bank.
Time and attention
This is especially valuable for children. Kids enjoy playing with dolls or a soccer ball or with fun costumes. But when Mum or Dad show an interest, join in and play by the kids’ rules, it’s so much better. A game of make-believe becomes magical; kicking a ball turns into the World Cup; and dress-up turns into a comedy production. So this year, don’t forget the power of time, attention and play.
A great alternative to buying gifts for your loved ones is helping out with something that is difficult for them. Could you babysit, so that a friend can get some much needed ‘me’ time? Prepare some simple treats for a family faced with illness? Or pass on no-longer-used toys or clothes for a family struggling to make ends meet? Or perhaps an elderly relative needs help pruning the hedges or painting the fence? Practical assistance is a thoughtful way to show you care and to make a real difference in someone’s life.
Spending time with loved ones can be even more enjoyable than giving and receiving presents. So talk with your friends and family about doing something fun together instead of buying gifts. Maybe you could plan an afternoon with mates, watching funny videos on the couch and eating cheap (but healthy-ish!) snacks? And a trip to the beach or a picnic in the park can be a great way of celebrating Christmas with the family, instead of buying presents. Company can also be really helpful for people who are alone, unwell or struggling. So instead of expensive flowers, consider giving the gift of a caring attitude, a good chat and an un-rushed visit.
For support with budgeting or financial stress – not just at Christmas – check out the range of services listed on the oneplace community services directory. And don’t forget to join the Talking Families community by following the Talking Families Facebook page.