Celebrating Christmas on a budget is about embracing simplicity and focusing on the true spirit of the season
Despite the financial constraints faced by the Adesanya family in Lagos, they embraced the challenge and decided to make Christmas memorable in their own unique way.
Adebiyi Adesanya, a shop owner, who deals in electrical appliances, experiencing a slowdown in sales, knew that the joy of the season went beyond material wealth.
His wife, Funmi Adesanya, known for her creativity, transformed their home into a festive wonderland with a distinct Nigerian touch. She repurposed old fabrics, turning them into vibrant decorations that adorned their living room. The ambience was further enhanced by carefully crafted paper lanterns and intricate beadwork, giving the space a cosy and distinctly Nigerian atmosphere.
On the eve of Christmas, the family gathered in their backyard, illuminated by the soft glow of twinkling lights. They decided to embrace the cultural richness of Nigeria by immersing themselves in traditional music and dance. The rhythmic beats and lively melodies resonated with the spirit of the season, creating an atmosphere of joy and unity.
Gift-giving took on a more personal and meaningful tone for the Ade family. Instead of store-bought presents, they exchanged handcrafted items and homemade treats. Each family member poured their creativity into their gifts, showcasing the importance of thoughtfulness over extravagance. The exchange of these heartfelt tokens strengthened the bonds within the family and added a special touch to the celebration.
As they sat around a modest but warm fire, the Adesanya family reflected on the true essence of Christmas, which was the spirit of love, togetherness, and resilience.
Their unique and resourceful celebration became a testament to the fact that the joy of the season could be found in the intangible moments shared with loved ones, transcending financial limitations.
Plan your finance
The Chief Executive Officer, The Kitchen Warriors, Motunrayo Adisa, said by adhering to a financial plan throughout the year, making prudent choices in purchasing, and reevaluating the necessity of certain expenses, individuals can enjoy the festive season without succumbing to undue financial stress.
She said, “Celebrating Christmas on a budget requires a combination of thoughtful planning, disciplined saving, and smart spending. By adhering to a financial plan throughout the year, making prudent choices in purchasing, and reevaluating the necessity of certain expenses, individuals can enjoy the festive season without succumbing to undue financial stress. Embracing a frugal mindset can make the holiday season not only joyful but also financially sustainable.
“December, a month synonymous with joy and festivities, often brings along a surge in expenses due to the elaborate celebrations of Christmas and the New Year. The financial strain of travelling, preparing special meals, and socialising with friends can be overwhelming. However, implementing a strategic approach to budgeting throughout the year can significantly alleviate the burden during the festive season. One prudent strategy is to allocate a portion of one’s income specifically for Christmas celebrations right from the beginning of the year. This disciplined saving allows individuals to accumulate funds gradually, ensuring that the financial impact of the holidays is more manageable. By planning, individuals can avoid resorting to borrowing money for celebrations, a practice that could lead to financial strain in the long run.”
Adisa asserted that it was essential for people to adopt a mindset of “cutting their cloth according to the material available.”
She advised, “Recognising that Christmas is just a single day, individuals should exercise caution not to overspend, especially in the current economic climate. Hence, opting for thrift stores when purchasing festive clothing can be a practical solution for those on a tight budget, and is essential to offering affordable options without compromising on style.
“In addition, those unable to afford a whole live chicken can explore alternatives such as frozen poultry or more budget-friendly protein sources like beef or fish. Additionally, during grocery shopping for Christmas, considering lesser-known or unpopular brands can be a savvy financial move. Many of these brands offer high-quality products at more affordable prices, allowing individuals to maximize their savings without sacrificing quality. “
It is however advisable that for those accustomed to travelling during the festive season, evaluating the necessity of such journeys becomes paramount.
While transportation costs tend to soar during Christmas, individuals can explore alternatives or, if possible, opt to stay at home. This decision can significantly contribute to saving on expenses, especially for those whose presence at a specific location is not imperative.
A data analyst, Adedamola Adedoyin, said efficiently capitalising on discounts is essential, especially for cost-effective outings like family picnics or beach hangouts.
According to Adedoyin, group participation and shared expenses not only contribute to a more economical experience but also facilitate obtaining subsidised rates for everyone involved.
He said, “During the festive season of Christmas, optimising financial resources becomes imperative as individuals navigate the myriad expenses associated with holiday celebrations. Applying the principle of maximising discounts and adopting judicious spending strategies takes on added significance in this context. Much like the cost-sharing approach recommended for group outings, Christmas festivities often involve collective endeavours, such as group dinners or collaborative gift-giving. These collaborative efforts not only foster a sense of community but also effectively distribute financial obligations among participants.
“Drawing parallels with the concept of package deals and memberships, individuals can seek out bundled holiday packages or leverage exclusive discounts offered through loyalty programmes. These strategic financial manoeuvres can encompass everything from festive decorations to special event admissions, ensuring a more economically viable yuletide experience. Furthermore, staying attuned to seasonal promotions and utilising coupon codes can yield substantial savings on gifts and other seasonal purchases.
“In essence, the spirit of intelligent financial planning aligns seamlessly with the spirit of Christmas. By strategically navigating discounts and applying savvy spending practices, individuals can not only ensure a financially sustainable holiday season but also enhance the joy and meaningfulness of their celebrations. Intelligent financial decisions during Christmas contribute to a more enriched and stress-free experience, allowing for a focus on the true essence of the season – generosity, togetherness, and creating lasting memories.”
A financial expert, Olufemi Ososan, said avoiding the temptation to borrow for Christmas celebrations is a crucial aspect of fostering a mindful and enjoyable holiday experience.
He said, “Borrowing often leads to lingering financial stress as individuals grapple with repayment obligations and interest burdens long after the festivities have concluded. This financial strain can detract from the joy of the season, so prioritise financial well-being and avoid unnecessary debt.
“Choosing not to borrow for Christmas celebrations also promotes a shift towards mindful spending and realistic expectations. This approach encourages individuals to prioritise meaningful experiences over materialism and to align their holiday expenses with personal values. Hence, being free from the pressures of excessive spending and the long-term financial consequences associated with holiday-related debt. In essence, the recommendation to avoid borrowing reflects a commitment to financial discipline, responsible decision-making, and the creation of a holiday experience that resonates with one’s values and long-term financial health.”
According to Ososan, here are several reasons why it’s wise to refrain from borrowing during the Christmas season:
Financial Well-Being: Borrowing money to fund Christmas festivities may lead to financial strain in the future. Taking on debt can result in high-interest payments, potentially creating a cycle of debt that extends beyond the holiday season. Maintaining financial well-being contributes to long-term stability and peace of mind.
Reduced Stress: Accumulating debt can be stressful, especially when the bills start arriving in the following months. By avoiding unnecessary borrowing, individuals can enjoy the holiday season without the burden of looming financial obligations. This stress reduction allows for a more relaxed and joyful celebration.
Create Meaningful Experiences: Christmas is about creating cherished memories with loved ones, not about the monetary value of gifts or the grandiosity of celebrations. By refraining from borrowing, individuals are encouraged to focus on the true essence of the holiday – spending quality time with family and friends, engaging in meaningful activities, and appreciating the joy of the season.
Financial Planning: A mindful approach to Christmas involves considering the long-term financial implications of spending decisions. Instead of succumbing to immediate desires, individuals can plan and save for the holiday season throughout the year, ensuring that they can celebrate without compromising their financial goals or jeopardizing their future financial security.
Be a Model: Demonstrating responsible financial behaviour during the holidays sets a positive example for family members, especially children. Teaching the importance of budgeting and saving reinforces the idea that celebrations can be joyful without relying on borrowed funds.
Financial Freedom: By avoiding the burden of debt during Christmas, individuals retain the financial freedom to enjoy other important occasions throughout the year. This includes birthdays, anniversaries, and unexpected life events. A debt-free approach allows for greater flexibility in allocating resources to various aspects of life.
He added, “In conclusion, embracing a mindset of financial responsibility during the Christmas season contributes to a more fulfilling and sustainable celebration. By focusing on the joy of simple pleasures and avoiding the temptation to borrow, individuals can create lasting memories without compromising their financial well-being. This approach reinforces the idea that Christmas is not a one-time event but a recurring celebration to be enjoyed for many years to come.
“The essence of Christmas lies in reflection on the person of Christ, emphasising the spiritual and religious significance of the holiday. It serves as a time for gratitude and values associated with the birth of Christ, fostering a deeper connection to the true meaning of Christmas.”
Meanwhile, a legal practitioner, Tosin Jacobs, said focusing on food and, for those with toddlers, a change of clothes, emphasises the essence of the holiday without unnecessary stress or expense.
She said, “Many people appreciate the simplicity of spending time with loved ones and enjoying good food during the holiday season. It is important to remember that the true spirit of Christmas lies in the joy of giving, spending time with family and friends, and expressing gratitude. Materialistic aspects of the holiday can sometimes overshadow these meaningful moments. Your perspective highlights the importance of keeping celebrations within one’s means and not letting them become a source of stress.
“Ultimately, everyone has their preferences and traditions when it comes to celebrating holidays. It’s essential to find a balance that brings joy and meaning to your celebrations without putting unnecessary pressure on yourself or others.”