Helen Nugent

How to have the most wonderful Christmas time: rein in your spending

There’s always one. One colleague, friend or family member who starts banging on about Christmas months in advance. One smug person who risks a punch in the face for boasting ‘I’ve done all my Xmas shopping’ before the clocks have gone back.

Thanks all the same but I don’t want to know how many days it is until December 25. I have no interest in seeing the M&S festive range. And I have zero appetite for a sneak preview of the John Lewis Christmas ad.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and all that it entails. The bulging stocking (yes, my mum still does this), the tin of Quality Street, the massive over-eating. And it’s particularly special now my niece is old enough to enjoy it.

But surely there should be some kind of law that prevents any mention of Christmas until, oh, Christmas Eve? If there was, it might prevent my inbox being flooded by festive press releases. I’m averaging at least two a day now. It’s only Monday and already I’ve received a helpful missive entitled ‘Essential November Jobs to Prepare Your Home for Christmas’. I’m screaming on the inside.

Despite all my moaning and groaning, I’ll admit there is a serious side to Christmas: money. It’s expensive and many of us end up paying for it well into the New Year.

According to the latest data from Halifax, people spent an average £506 on Christmas 2015, including lavishing cash on gifts, food, drink and socialising – an 8 per cent rise on 2014. Almost a third admitted to spending more than they did in the previous year, and of those who did increase their Christmas outlay, nearly one in five spent over £200 more.

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