Woman saving money at christmas

Debt Solutions for the most Festive Times

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 at 4:10 pm in New Leaf - Gift Archives by Ben Paris.

It’s hard not to wonder if Christmas was invented by the card companies and retail giants to trick us into buying each other rubbish we don’t need.

All right, so it’s also quite pretty when people put lights all over the houses and Christmas windows are in full bloom in every major shopping centre — but if you’ve committed to getting out of debt and want to bid adieu to financial hardship, Christmas can be a bit of a bummer.

However, just because it’s a holiday celebrating rampant consumerism and overspending, that doesn’t mean you have to join the herd. Especially when it comes to your significant other.
While you may feel confident that they love you enough to warrant you not getting them a present, trust me when I say, they don’t. I only say this recalling that one Christmas a few years ago when my partner and my child both “forgot” to put any presents for me under the tree. You try not to weep like a big fat baby half drunk on eggnog at 8am on Christmas morning. But back to the point: which is: You don’t have to blow your budget in order to give your partner a thoughtful, and at the risk of sounding crass, cheap present.

Make affordable Christmas presents, because it’s the thought that counts, not how much you spend.

But before you whip out the Clag and start collaging all over the dining room table, unless your partner is into religious art clustered into a collage, other ideas include:

  • Make them a mixtape (or CD or audio file) with all of their favourite songs or songs that remind you of them or, a personal favourite, songs that were popular when you were first courtin’.
  • Write them a poem on a serviette from the pub or restaurant or nightclub where you first met. Granted, some nightclubs don’t offer serviettes so maybe a coaster? Just make sure it’s not laden with beer.
  • Not a wordsmith? Consider heading to a discount art store (like Riot Art & Craft) to purchase a mug and paints to write something funny or ironic your partner said lest either of you forget how witty (or silly) your partner is.
  • Make them a “Get out of Jail free” card.
  • You can decide what that means; whether you forgive them for a day for never turning off every single light they flip on; or maybe you don’t scream at them when they stumble in at 5am after a night on a the town — it’s really up to you.
  • Coupons — we’re not talking about the kind of you cut out of the Aldi catalogue for a set of hockey sticks, we’re talking about the kind where the receiver actually gets something good out of it. Coupons can include but are not limited to:
  • A one-hour back rub complete with essentials oils and Sade in the background;
  • Cooking dinner for a week or doing the dishes if you’re the one who usually cooks;
  • Three ice cream dates redeemable for a double scoop for the coupon bearer;
  • A surprise date where the coupon giver will take their partner on a date filled with adventure and fun (cheap options include a nighttime picnic or a day at the beach);
  • Teaching a skill you have but they don’t so, for example, if you play the guitar, offer them a lesson; if you know how to sew, teach them how to make some curtains; if they can’t cook, teach them how to make an omelette or, if they don’t know how to relax because of their high pressure job, teach them about Netflix and Chill.

If you just read this and are thinking: “I have more of a material girl (or guy) than a crafty creative on my hands” — fear not as there are ways around this.

While you may not be able to afford the Hope Diamond, there are plenty of other inexpensive gifts you can give come Christmas morning including but not limited to:

  • Cooking school: believe it or not, Harvard actually offers a free online cooking course that’s taught twice a week and teaches you all about the science of cooking. With some lessons taught by David Chang of Momofuku, you’ll be thanking yourself later for giving a gift that keeps on giving. Visit online-learning.harvard.edu/course/science-and-cooking
  • A second hand copy of a first edition book: maybe you’re thinking, “Who wants an old book?” If your loved one is a lover of literature, they will! It’ll mean even more if you can find a copy of their favourite book or yours (dog-ear the pages of your favourite passages which you can then discuss later, like real adults).
  • Scour eBay or Gumtree for that perfect chair or end tables they’ve been looking for. Great deals can be found on both sites and if you search “Free” on Gumtree prepare to have your mind blown.
  • Sign up to online newsletters via email for major retailers or speciality shops. By doing this, you’ll learn about sales before they happen and can be at the ready when something you know your significant other has had their eye on, becomes available at a cheaper price.


Good luck, but remember, it’s the thought that counts (at least, that’s what mum always said).



Ben Paris

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