Bad Budgeting or Bad Santa?

The tribe and I have just returned from Mothercare (impromptu feet measuring and welly purchasing) and things were going relatively peacefully until the Boy spotted his dream item – a Buzz Lightyear costume.  Cue “spooky face” and “I want it now”. Cue immediate removal of the Boy back to the car to reduce our embarrassment levels and to avoid sympathetic and/or judgemental looks from other parents.

On the way back, stunned into silence by the melodious tones of Killswitch Engage and the loud sucking of Wether’s Originals from the back of the car, I found myself wondering how other parents approach buying Christmas presents for their brood. What is the best approach? Do you set a budget per child, which means they simply will not receive some of the toys they have on their Christmas list, or buy them one big present supplemented by smaller stocking fillers, which is what my parents did.

I know I should be disciplined and start putting away a few bits and pieces now to avoid the nightmare that is Christmas shopping with children and the painful January credit card statement. I say every year I will have all the shopping done by 1st December. I’ve never managed it yet!  You can see why online shopping has grown so rapidly – at the very least you avoid ‘pester power’.

Wanted: for incomplete Christmas list fulfillment


Christmas has become a time for conspicuous consumerism. I remember my mum reading Louisa May Allcot’s wonderful novel Little Women (download a free copy) to me when I was very young and I’ve never forgotten the bit where, on Christmas morning, the four March girls agree to give up their breakfast for a poor mother with a new baby and six other children to feed. Even at a young age, I could appreciate that the feeling of contribution and doing some good could outweigh the pleasure of receiving a gift. The value of charity and community is certainly something I will be teaching my kids.

In the meantime, it’s time for parents everywhere to gird their loins in preparation for the annual marketing onslaught that begins any day now on every single medium you can think of – TV, radio, press, internet, billboards, trains, buses, taxis – there truly is no escape.



And I’ll be sitting down with a calculator to work out a sensible budget.


  1. Denise walton
    3 November, 2019 / 10:38 pm

    I have 11 grandchildren ,I try my best to stick to a budget for each one ,I’m always on the lookout for bargains vouchers etc

  2. Sarah+Carter
    27 February, 2018 / 2:17 pm

    I love this x

  3. 14 September, 2013 / 8:51 pm

    I start my Christmas shopping early, we don't have a credit card or similar so everything needs to be paid for. I save for the Park vouchers, which arrive in early November but they won't cover everything so I buy/stock up when things are on offer and when I see a bargain. In lucky years, such as this one (yay), I supplement the santa box (i.e the spare bedroom) with competition wins, but they're not to be relied on as they're not guaranteed every year! It's only September, so don't panic yet but if I were you I'd be starting my shopping now, simply because I hate the December crowds! x

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