I’ve never really given anyone any illusion that I’m anything but the BIGGEST Christmas fan – for me, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, I bladddddy love it. The lights, the food, the food… the food… and even the shopping.
One of the things that I have always done is shop throughout the year for Christmas, it’s an old habit that dies hard from a time when Adam and I simply couldn’t afford the reality of Christmas, as much as we loved it. My mum would pay for food for Christmas day and in the run up, we would contribute what we could but it was minimal and then come Boxing day, it would be my in laws that would shell out for the buffet we would enjoy there. If we (and by this I mean me) hadn’t spent the year shopping and buying the odd bit here and there, we wouldn’t have been able to give the children lots of prezzies or do things the way that we wanted.
I know it isn’t about the presents but, let’s all be honest, consumerism is well and kicking and we’re all a part of the turning wheel – I LOVE shopping, love it. Especially online shopping and I get a real kick out of gifting, its’ just something that I enjoy. One thing that I refused to do, even when we were extremely strapped for cash, was get myself into debt for that one day of the year. I didn’t do it for my wedding and I would be damned if I would spend the year stressing and trying to pay off every increasing interest rates on cards. No. Thank You.
That’s the reality for a lot of us though isn’t it? Putting everything on credit cards – and with each passing year I can understand why so many people opt to have a big blow out a few weeks before instead of doing it bit by bit. I still buy through the year for everyone but I have found that as my children get older this becomes harder. For example: at the beginning of 2018 Reuben was ALL about Transformers, he liked marvel and lego but it wasn’t everything. Then he started to lean more and more towards Marvel, more into the characters and especially the Lego sets, he saw Avengers: Infinity Wars and that was it. The Transformers were relegated to the “I will play with you when I’m really bored or I need a prop for Iron Man” box, and the three £40 ones we had already bought by mid year were suddenly looking rather bleak as his “wish list” changed over time. Children change their minds about what they want, constantly, they will tell you on Christmas Eve that their most desired toy is something you have never heard of, and it’s so frustrating. What they love now, they almost certainly will have lost interest by December, so I get it, but not many people have a big lump sum to spend on their children the month before Christmas… unless they have saved money instead of bought through the year.
Now I hear you, I don’t save money very well. I’m getting better as I’m getting older (and let’s be blunt, as I’m becoming more privileged with a secure disposable income – that wasn’t even a thing when I was in my early twenties, so of course I’m getting better) but I still have this thing where I see my savings, knowing fine well they are for Xmas and tell myself “well, the boiler/car/garden decking/insert usual household horror here needs sorting, and I’ve got plenty of time” and then before I know it, bosh, no extra money set aside for what is undeniably the most extra time of year.
If it’s not toys or gifts that are an important part of Christmas to you (to each their own) then there is no shying away from the extra pressure of food. I saw a Turkey in one of the main supermarkets that was aimed at feeding a family of 15-20 (big, but not uncommon) and it was £90. £90! For part of ONE meal, add in the trimmings, the nibbles and the booze and WHAMMY you’re already talking hundreds.
I mentioned this cycle on Instagram, the cycle of trying to buy through the year, but then finding what I’ve bought is somewhat obsolete vs trying to save through the year and dipping into the fund when emergencies happen and Park got in touch to offer me a suggestion I could share with you. You can pick from a range of vouchers, hampers and gifts, so if you want to do that big shop at the end of the year in a variety of high street shops, you can using Love2shop vouchers or even gift vouchers specifically for a certain shop.
Whether you choose to buy specific items from the Park catalogue or in the form of vouchers, they are delivered from September, giving you plenty of time to get out and do the big shop if you choose. The best part for me is the flexibility of the scheme, you can cancel any item if you change your mind or Little Timmy decides he doesn’t like Paw Patrol now but he’s a huge Shimmer and Shine fan, you don’t have to worry. In addition to the option to cancel, you can also amend your order easily which means you can decrease it if things get tight, so you are never stuck to making payments that you can’t commit to and if you come into some cash, you can pop a bit more on your order – all managed easily via your online account which you can even access via the Park app.
Something that I didn’t realise Park offered and I’m really impressed with is that you can order specific packages of food and drink, be that all the meat that you want for Christmas or snacks and nibbles. From huge packages like Empire that will fill your entire freezer, pantry and fridge with everything including the booze and choccies for a payment of £12.70 over 45 weeks to smaller packages like Holly that would take care of the meat and treat element for £5 a week. If it’s just the booze you’re wanting to spread the cost of, or the meat, there are packages for those from as little as £1-2 per week. You can even set up a direct debit so you don’t have to give it a second thought.
Ultimately, Christmas shouldn’t be a stress for anyone, it shouldn’t be something that comes hand in hand with an overdraft and a bundle of stress in Jan and it’s just not worth the strain, no matter how much you enjoy gifting or big events. If you want to find out more about planning for Christmas 2019 with Park, you can do so here.
This post is written in paid collaboration with Park Christmas Savings (which is pretty obvious.)