What's your Christmas story?

How we took the stress out of our family Christmas

Posted anonymously on November 15 2016 at 11:03

A number of years ago I decided that as my children were now adults, our Christmas celebrations should change. We always spent so much money and while everyone was happy, it was quite a fleeting happiness. My mum also stressed out massively and that was becoming worse every year. In October, she would start thinking about what to buy everyone and would then spend the next 8 or 9 weeks running around trying to get the best of everything for everyone. Every year the budget would be decimated.
Once she had bought the gifts, she would worry that the person receiving the gift would not like it. Then, once Christmas was over, mum would spend the next few weeks telling everyone - "are you sure you liked that?" "If you don't, I can give you the receipt" and it was not just once, it was several times.
I realised that the change had to be made across the whole family so I suggested that we do a family "Secret Santa" There would only be a couple of rules - you could only spend £10 on each gift, and you must bring the gift (wrapped up) to dinner on Christmas day. This took a LOT of persuasion and I only managed to get it agreed when I said we could try it for one year and see how we liked it. If we did not think it worked, we could go back to "normal" the next year.
Well - it was amazing!!! Christmas was entirely stress free and with the money we each saved, we were able to buy ourselves something that we really liked (and actually wanted)
My mum thought it was fantastic and she totally embraced the whole simplicity of the day - all that mattered was the family getting together for dinner and enjoying each other's company.
We have now been doing this for 6 years and would never dream of going back to the way it was before. Children still receive gifts if they are under 18 and I still buy my two daughters (in their 20's) new pj's for Christmas Eve.
The only change we have made to this is to increase the price of the gifts to £15 - this was at the request of my dad (who had said he would not be part of it to start with) as he simply could not buy a decent gift for £10.
I would highly recommend this for every family - only buying one gift is a blessing and it saves time, money and stress therefore allowing you to genuinely enjoy your day together.

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