How to Keep Christmas Gifts Under Control

A few years ago we did the no Christmas cards, no Christmas presents thing.  That’s been a funny old journey.  Some friends were upset at the lack of card, others were supportive and some decided to do the same.  But as time has marched on we have become less strict about this as we acknowledge not everything deserves such a rigid response so now we do send some cards and we do exchange small presents.

However, even with small presents the stress is here already.  How can I find something decent within budget?  Even worse, what un-wanted gift will I get in return?!

So here are some tips to help keep the whole Christmas thing under control

1.    Give the gift that keeps on giving…….send a nice little email to your chosen ones that says …….I won’t buy a gift if you won’t!  Can’t you just hear the sighs of relief all round?

2.    If it’s all too much to do this year tell your friends that as of next year you’re going to make a I won’t buy a gift if you won’t! pact with them and put a note in your diary for early November to remind you to send an email to them restating the pact.  That way you won’t get caught out with a red face when your best mate hands you an expensive gift and all you have to return is a sheepish smile.

3.    Can’t do the whole ‘no presents’ thing?  Ok, think about limiting presents to children only.

4.    Love giving presents but it’s getting way too expensive?  Do something similar to the work scenario and have a Secret Santa for friends and/or family.  And set a limit.  That way you should just have one gift to buy and your recipient is selected for you.

5.    Be creative, give a Promisary Note!  I love these.  So for example you could promise to massage your loved one’s shoulders once a month until next Christmas, or you could offer to babysit for a friend at their birthday or wedding anniversary, or bake a cake for a special event or a batch of muffins for a day they choose, paint their fence, teach them how to use excel………there are a whole heap of things once you start thinking about it.

6.  Give your partner 12 Promises….one for each of the next twelve months of 2016.

Write them on card and wrap them beautifully. They might look something like this;

January: I know you hate if the bed isn’t made so I’ll make it every day.Romantic coupons

February: It’s Picnic Time at the Zoo!

March: We’re going on an Easter Egg Hunt.

April: We’re borrowing our friend’s yacht and I’m taking you sailing for the day.

May: No supermarket shopping for you this month, it’s mine, all mine!

June: I’ll do the weekend morning dog walks so you can sleep late.

July:  I’ll be making you ‘Christmas Lunch’.  As this involves a whole turkey you can invite 4 guests.

August:  I’ll look after the kids for the weekend so you can do anything you like!

September:  I’m going to bake you a cake.  Choose which day you’d like to eat this culinary delight!My turn to clean the patio!

October:  You can choose all the films we watch this month.

November:  No need to nag me this month as I’m going to gurney the patio without you having to ask me, again and again and again…….

December:  Yes, I’ll do that 20k walk with you.

A few other useful tips from the team at this time of year


  • Don’t forget to book tickets for the Sydney festival.  Fiona says there’s nothing more irritating than realising the open air cinema has sold out before you had a chance to check out the options! Sydney Festival 7-26th January, 2016
  • According to Viv, Christmas shopping can be stressful enough, without having to stand in a cashier queue that rivals the lead-up to a new iPhone launch. If you’re shopping in a department store, suss out the levels that generally have shorter lines to pay (e.g. home appliances) and avoid the fashion, kids and toys levels altogether!
  • One for post-Christmas: As tempting as it may be to rip down the decorations and throw them haphazardly into the garage come January, make sure to clearly label and tidily store away the tree, fairy lights, decorations etc. for a stress-free unpacking the next year round. Emma Lawson assures us you will thank yourself in 11 months time!
  • Emma Vickers has a Christmas card list she keeps in a safe place so that she can refer to it (and add or delete names) year after year.
  • Tim’s family have a nice idea for gifts for the children’s teachers. They give them a decorated Christmas tree bauble as a present. It’s more personal than just giving chocolates and the teacher or carer will remember your child each year when they put up their decorations.

Whatever you do, have a great Christmas!