Christmas time can be a stressful time of year for Kiwi families. We’ve all been there; Christmas shopping in the madness of Christmas Eve, blowing the budget and buying for everyone. The financial pressure can turn any jolly Chris Kringle into a Grinch.

Planning ahead with these seasonal survival tips can ease some of your Christmas woes this year.

Last year was our first Christmas with our now-almost 2 year old. To say it was a monumental blow-out on the present buying scale would be an understatement.

We just wanted to spoil our baby – who doesn’t right? But we made the mistake of buying a lot of cheaper ‘crap’.

Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping at some of the large affordable retailers and I’m sure a lot of people can relate. But the majority of these toys haven’t lasted the distance and just cluttered our house. This year we are going to follow a trend that a lot of families are getting on board with.

Budget-friendly Christmas shopping for kids isn’t about buying budget gifts, far from it. It’s about buying quality, affordable gifts your family will enjoy, without gutting the retirement nest-egg to do it.

Budget Friendly Christmas Shopping for Kids

1. Want, Need, Wear and Read

Want, need, wear and read. And of course a Santa Sack. Santa’s not getting all the credit this year!

Want: Something that your child has been pining after – a toy, dress-ups, a game. I’m sure they would have dropped a few hints by this time of year.

Need: Something that your child is in desperate need of. This could be something as simple as some summer sandals, togs or a new school bag. This way you are killing two birds with one stone.

Wear: Again you can get them something they need, you can tie it in with the need gift like a hat to go with the togs. Or it could be a Christmas day outfit, or a special dress-up outfit for pretend play.

Read: Nothing like a new book! You could get them a special Christmas-themed book and have it as a tradition to add to a growing collection. There’s also some pretty cool New Zealand books out there too.

These are ‘guidelines’ for parents to follow. It’s up to you on how much you decide to spend. I would always recommend buying locally-made to support New Zealand businesses.

Do your research on what you’re considering getting and choose quality over quantity.

to be or not to be Merry this christmas pintreset photo
Image via pinterest

2. A Sensible, but Memorable Santa Sack

Keep your Santa sack simple. In most cases it’s usually just the thrill of good ol Mr. Claus paying a visit.

Ideas for your child’s Santa sack:

● hair ties or hair clips
● toothbrush
● Hot Wheel cars
● seeds
● slime
● nail polish
● socks
● treat food
● bubbles
● water play toys
● Playdoh

Keep the gifts small to keep the Santa sack modest. Even some of the ideas listed above can be made yourself – which makes them even more of a special gift from ‘Santa,’ – handmade by his elf helpers!

When it comes to presents for family and friends, it can often feel endless. Where do you stop at the gift buying? How much do you spend? Christmas shopping can often become overwhelming just by the thought of it. Keep it simple, because who wants to make Christmas more complicated than it needs to be!

Create a group chat – this way you can toss ideas around without having to play messenger to everyone. Everyone is on one platform. Simple.

Set gift rules and price limits! Whether it’s; only buying for the kids, or secret Santa for the adults. Be open about the gift buying!

3. Christmas Games

Games are a great idea.

Christmas is all about fun and family with your loved ones. Playing games like White Elephant Gift Exchange or Dirty Santa, is a fun way of getting the family together for a laugh. Players beware! Some will get quite competitive for a gift they want!

4. Make Your Own Christmas Presents

A made present is even more special than a bought one. There’s nothing like receiving a gift that somebody has put their love and time into.

It could be anything from an upcycled herb planter, to a soothing bath bomb. Or you can even ‘pre make’ cookie dough. Put the dry ingredients (layer them for effect) into a jar and presto!

Layered chocolate brownie

There are heaps of ideas on Pinterest for inspiration. I’ve recently become a little obsessed with indoor plants. I’ve found some funky cup-like looking vases and potted a String of Pearls Succulent into it. Cost me $15 all up! AND you only need one plant!

Yes, you can take trimmings and replant. All you need is another pretty plant holder, which you can, pick up for $5 – $10. Succulents make great gifts as well, as they don’t need much attention.

plants christmas


5. Sustainable Christmas Wrapping

Instead of using lots of bows and ribbons, add some dried flowers or foliage to the gift wrapping process. There is always so much rubbish that comes along with Christmas time. We really need to be conscious of what we are wrapping with.

Use biodegradable – or better reusable – wrapping materials. Head scarfs are very much ‘in’ at the moment. Pick up some fabric, cut into a square so that it can be used to fold into a head scarf and wrap the gift with that! I’ve tried and tested this and I can confirm it is a winner!

6. Buying presents for your partner

Now buying for that significant other can be quite stressful too. Are they keeping to the limit? Are we ‘not doing gifts’ this year, but they’re secretly buying a present for you anyway?

Instead of buying an individual gift for each other, get a combined gift for the house that you need. That way you can both enjoy it. Whether it’s a PS4 or a lawnmower!

7. Remember what Christmas is All About

Christmas time is supposed to be a time of togetherness, and a special time of year for carrying on old family traditions and creating some new ones of your own.

It really is the one time of year where everybody can spend some time together, so we should be enjoying it – not getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas rush.

I hope with this, ‘Seasonal Survival Kit’ your Christmas will be merry and full of cheer!

For more expert financial advice, check out our Grown ups: Family finances section.

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Sara Boult is a Beauty Therapist living in Wellington, New Zealand. She's also a first time Mum. Sara has a passion for creative writing and writes her own blog The Life that Chose Us. Realising how hard it was being a young mother and still being able to ‘look good’, she now freelances beauty services for mums and bubs.

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