Our regular Gosport contributor looks at an alternative to lavish present-buying
IT is a question you try to avoid at this time of year, because you do not know what answer you are going to get.
People either love it or loathe it
The question is, are you looking forward to Christmas?
Most people are probably looking forward to the day itself, the challenge is dealing with the run up to Christmas and facing up to the challenge and stress of the Christmas spend on gifts and food.
It is estimated that the UK’s shopping bill is going to be around £3bn.
Furthermore, it is estimated that 49 per cent of the shopping will be done on line and GoCompare show that 31 per cent of households browsed in the Black Friday sales which signalled the start to the UK’s biggest shopping period.
The finance website Bobatoo notes that 45 per cent of us don’t set a budget for Christmas and 21 per cent said they will go over their budget.
What makes a good Christmas?
If you purely looked at statistics, you might understandably come to the conclusion that our satisfaction is linked to spending.
In other words, the more you spend, the better your Christmas will be.
Sometimes we can gain a sense of control over a Christmas budget by simply giving out cash to our families, friends and work colleagues in line with our budget.
But, generally, gifts are expected.
However, unless giving is specific, there will be a sense of dissatisfaction because many people, of all ages, will receive gifts they did not ask for, did not want and will be discarded at the first opportunity.
I have a number of ideas to get around that.
Firstly, check to see whether the gift-receiver would like to receive a personal gift or would prefer to see their gift given as a cash gift to their chosen charity.
Charity gifts can change lives and can do such things as giving a child an education, buying farm animals for a community, or giving more resources to beat diseases like cancer or muscular sclerosis.
Secondly, ask them for a Christmas gift list.
Your gift receiver could do this directly by telling you what they want and then giving you the freedom to decide what you are going to get them.
Alternatively, you could go online to a website such as Amazon, which gives you the ability to put a gift list together.
Thirdly, find out the kind of gift they want, whether it is a book, CD, DVD, food or drink, and get a gift card related to the particular product.
What we want to avoid is the scenario where gifts disappoint or are discarded – or delivered to the person who gave the gift in the previous year!
Last year a friend of mine opened a gift from a family member and realised it was the one he had given to them in the previous year.
No-one wants to be thought of as a Scrooge at Christmas, but we can learn from Scrooge, and make our money count, work more effectively, and perhaps put a few more smiles on faces as a result.