Friday, 16 September 2011

Dematerialising Christmas

Money saving Martin reminds us today that it's only 100 days to Christmas, and has published tips on avoiding overspending during the festive season. Here are mine, approached from the angle of reducing the level of consumerism.

Why not agree a gift anmesty with your family and friends? Mutually decide that you won't buy for them and they won't buy for you. Perhaps you could exchange something else instead - a card with an extended personal message, perhaps? Or you could agree to spend a minimal amount, or buy gifts only from charity shops, or re-gift something you own and they have admired.

If you don't want to cut down on what you spend, consider buying activities rather than goods - tickets to concerts, pamper days, meals out - either for your friend and you, or given as a voucher for your friend to share with whoever they choose? Or choose an antique or vintage item you know they would like.

Leading on from the Unicef report that says children are stuck in a "materialistic trap" in which they are unable to spend enough time with their families and instead are bought off with "branded goods" by their parents - could you buy your kids a little less and instead spend a little more time with them? Or invest in a shared experience like a trip to a theme park, theatre or activity centre?

We all tend to buy a little too much food at Christmas, so invest a little time planning menus and making a shopping list of the quantities you actually need - including some ideas for cooking your leftovers, too. Try to source ethical and local ingredients; they may cost a little more but if you also cut out the waste you probably won't spend any more.

Last year I left it too late, and by the time I spoke to my family about cutting down on the consumer goods, they had already started their shopping. So with 100 days to go, I'm starting now.

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