Holiday Spending Run Amuck

Every year there are stories about holiday spending but there are many more stories this season about having a frugal but meaningful holiday in these economic climes. Even Oprah’s big holiday orgy of her favourite things was scaled down, WAY down this year.


My friend forwarded the GOOP Get newsletter about a week ago. I was ready to mock the $1350 USD Mulberry weekend bag, $1850 USD Hermes Cape Cod Watch and the $24.74 Recycled Bamboo utensil set (“Eco-friendly and great for picnics.”) but then I saw a news story on The National the other night about how “ordinary” Canadians are coping with the holidays in uncertain times where one family was hoping to lower their budget to $1500 from $6000.




Am I Scrooge or does this seem a little outrageous? Even $1500 seems crazy to me!


This was obviously an upper middle-class family and I come from a more humble background but REALLY?


Another family received a lot of gifts for their young child’s birthday so they decided to save some of the gifts for Christmas. This was a brilliant idea! A child that young wouldn’t know anyway. Besides, kids get bored of toys so it is often recommended to take some out of circulation and cycling them in later as a great way to keep them engaged without having to buy new toys (all the time). The bonus is that you may be able to prevent the toys from overrunning your house (‘may’ being the operative word).


Our parents wisely got out of the habit of buying us gifts (saving us both a lot of grief and stress) and now give us money to spend as we wish. I usually end up saving the money but this year I will spend it on stocks! Hopefully it will be the gift that keeps on giving.


With my siblings, we cap it at $50 per person, pooling of money is allowed. We really do this to give everyone a chance to rip open some wrapping paper- the gift is almost (almost) incidental. My boyfriend and I have never been explicit about it but I would say $200 is the absolute limit. He knows I get upset with him if he pays full price or goes overboard- I just wouldn’t enjoy it if I knew he overextended himself.


I was having this conversation with my boyfriend and he mentioned hearing a surprising (not so surprising?) statistic about holiday gift-giving. On average, it takes about six months for the average gift-giver to pay off holiday purchases. We both try to pay off our respective bills in full by the due date so we were both quite stunned.


And six months is only the average!!! I would hazard to guess that there are a lot of people who are buying gifts this year who haven’t paid off the gifts from last year. That’s an “Ouch!”


Maybe I’m just lucky that my friends do not feel obligated to buy gifts but elect, instead, to spend a few hours over dinner or drinks to catch up, relax and just take a general breather from this hectic time of year.


Our gift to each other is the time we spend together and you can’t put a dollar value on that.


(Okay, that was gag worthy but you know it’s true.)


~ by angryegg on December 15, 2008.

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