This is a guest post written by Financielle, for content pitches please email [email protected].

As the dark nights draw in, many are turning their minds to a much lighter topic: Christmas. A time for festivals, family, food and gifts. Lots and lots of gifts.

Christmas is a time that many look forward to but it can actually provoke fear, guilt and overwhelm in many too. The pressure to conform to the Christmas ideology of buying in abundance is very real, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you look more closely how much of this pressure comes from within yourself? How much is tied to what you think you should be doing? Certain times of the year can trigger habits to please others and Christmas is a prime example of this.

Many of us have been fortunate enough to have received some unforgettable Christmas gifts over the years, millennial highlights being gifts such as a Post Office, a Sega Mega Drive and a Girls World – but think about this, it is usually one meaningful gift as opposed to mountains of things to wrap that get lost in the moment.

With the last couple of years being a relatively quiet year for most, this year we can predict that “The Joneses” will go bigger and harder than ever before. Christmas tends to bring out all of the things we feel particularly guilty about, not seeing a friend or relative, not being able to take our children on holiday or not knowing what this year’s trendy gifts are. Let’s just take a pause and use this as an opportunity to have the kind of Christmas done on your own terms.

So how do we prepare ourselves to have a loving, enjoyable, affordable and stress-free Christmas?

1. Create a budget and stick to it

Create a set amount that will be safely ring-fenced allowing you to create a realistic budget to stick to.

Easier said than done? If you don’t know where to start with budgeting you can create one now in The Financielle App.

If you have no money set aside for Christmas yet, then perhaps you have one pay day to go where you can create one?

2. Focus on mindful spending

Create a specific Christmas gift list and stick to it, where you are mindfully searching for a gift that your loved one will appreciate. This is where gift-giving can truly come into its own!

Retailers will bombard you with emails, prompt you with “too good to miss” offers and as we all know, we are likely to face massive influencer persuasion on social media this Christmas shopping period. Be prepared for this and be mindful!

3. Try to focus on supporting Independents

Large retailers generally dominate during the Christmas period, specifically online retailers like Amazon. Why not research local or independent retailers that expertly make amazing Christmas gifts?

The feel-good factor will support your mental well-being as well as support a small business!

Golden chocolate coins

4. Be honest and create boundaries

We’ve all been there when you look at the ever-growing list of people you buy presents for at Christmas. Second aunties, third cousins, old neighbors, teachers – the list is endless.

Take a good long look at your list, are you buying presents because you really want to or because you feel like you have to? Are you ready to swallow your pride and start the conversation about gift giving? Find our helpful guide on how to say “We’re not doing gifts this year.” here.

Some families decide that Christmas should be about children and only buy for children – adults, then they are relieved not to have to buy presents for each other any more. People could have spent years tearing their hair out wondering what to buy each other when all that time people were feeling resentful of the situation wishing somebody would speak up and call out the madness that buying Christmas gifts brings.

Many also get around this with a Secret Santa concept too – a creative way to put focus and energy into gift giving without it being about the value, but the thought!

Whether you have a Christmas strategy or not – the buying season is well upon us, so be prepared and remember what the festive period is all about.

5. Get ahead for next year

If you’d like to get a head start on next year’s festive period, January is the perfect time to set up a Christmas sinking fund.

Sinking funds are pots of money set aside for an expected expense for example if you plan to spend £1200 next Christmas (gifts, food and activities) from the 1st of January you would put aside £100 each month.

If you want to learn more about the power of sinking funds head to The Financielle App now.

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