It’s time to get back to basics

Christmas shopping
Christmas shopping
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THOUGHTS OF A FRUITCAKE: By Carolyn Aldis

So, the days are beginning to slip by as we approach what some consider to be the most wonderful time of the year.

I have recently been thinking about my finances and how much I should be spending on presents.

I know of people who are in debt most of the year and end up further in debt over Christmas because they don’t want their children to miss out.

Toys take the place of security in their lives and I am not sure it’s a fair exchange.

The way we live now is very different from the way we apparently lived years ago, when a special treat in a child’s stocking was a satsuma.

Admittedly there is always an orange in my children’s stockings, but of the Terry’s variety.

Nowadays, companies provide food on demand all through the year.

And if a person needs something new (books, clothes or mobile phones), instead of waiting for their birthday or Christmas, they just buy it.

I have to admit that I’m not particularly organised and in the past have resorted to cramming my shopping time into too tight a time frame, meaning I’ve often ended up with some gifts that were over-priced or some that I couldn’t use at all because I had seen a “bargain” and bought five of them, when I only needed two. Oops.

The thought of being part of a huge crowd of people in large shops, all trying to get the perfect gift, fills me with dread.

It seems to bring out the worst in people, pushed against each other, getting stressed and becoming unreasonable … Black Friday is a prime example.

I keep getting a sense of wanting to get back to basics this year and simplify my life – and the lives of the people I am buying presents for.

What do you get for the older man who has everything? Some companies have bought into this problem and provided their own response …generally overpriced, supposedly unique gifts. How long will it be before the novelty feeling wears off from that gift?

In this time of economic difficulty, I want to make sure the gift I choose is worth it and will be of some use to somebody else and not end up in a charity shop in January. So I ask myself: “Do they really need this? Would I want this?”

My plan this year is to set myself a budget and to ask for an idea of what they would like and then choose something based on this information.

I always bake gingerbread men, cinnamon biscuits and stacks of chocolate chip cookies to be given away to friends; packaged in a cellophane bag, finished off with some ribbon. It makes a simple, fairly cheap gift enjoyed by those that receive them.

I want to make sure I buy something of quality, even if it is only small …going online and finding the goods and then going shopping with a list of presents and the people they are for should stop the impulse buys that I have been guilty of in the past.

Maybe I should try telling my girls that Jesus only had three presents …