Christmas is usually one of the biggest celebrations in the year, especially in countries with a large population of Christians. It is often characterised by deep excitement, extensive merrymaking, going on picnics and spending quality time with family members and acquaintances.
And so it’s quite understandable that the enthusiasm is already in the air even though the celebration is still a few days away.
However, as it is customary for people to plan ahead, do some shopping and get set to have fun on the D-Day, it seems pertinent to share tips on how people could have fun within their means, especially with the state of the economy.
Some of such tips include:
Have a budget for the season: Given the huge excitement that surrounds Christmas, it is not uncommon for people to be carried away with the excitement; so sometimes, they buy many things, including things they do not really need, all in a bid to have a celebration seasoned with varieties of foods and drinks. According to a seasoned Associate Professor of Sociologist, Mrs Franca Attoh, people do not really need some of the things they spend money on during the Yuletide.
“Some of the things we clamour for this season, if we ask ourselves, do we need them? We will realise that they are not needs, but wants,” she said.
Also, Money Crashers, a website that strives to educate individuals in making wise choices about their finances, advised people to be conscious of their spending this season, and that those who have no firm control of their finances could have a budget, which would cover foods, drinks and gifts for family members and the underprivileged people in the society. It added, “While keeping your spending within the constraints of a Christmas budget can be difficult, it is much easier than coping with months of debt repayments. The stress accompanying the debt can be avoided by realistically considering your current financial circumstances and future needs, settling on an amount you can comfortably afford, and staying within that limit.”
It noted, however, that people tend to be happy with themselves if they didn’t run into debt or incur unnecessary expenses and they still had fun during the season.
Reach out to the needy: To some people, it’s only people who have things in excess or the very rich in the society that should reach out to underprivileged people, but this is not so. It has often been said that when people reach out to others, they get some satisfaction and they in turn fill the world with hope. In fact, a popular quote by the third richest man in the world, Warren Buffet, says, “If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” And according to Attoh, being of help to the needy brings joy to the heart. She also stressed that it is important for parents to train their children to imbibe the act of giving.
She said, “Giving to others gives joy. There is no Christmas that we don’t take things to either old people’s homes or places meant for persons living with disabilities, and so there is no child that I raised that does not see the other side of life so that in eating their rice, they remember that there are other children that are in need. You find that when you return home from such places, you feel happy because you have helped a fellow human being. Those are the things that give you joy; not going to soak yourself in alcohol or eating from morning till night.”
Don’t forget the reason for the season: It would seem that one good way to stay happy during the Yuletide is to bear in mind the reason for the season, which is not just about eating and drinking. According to Attoh, if people appreciate the reason for Christmas, they would not put themselves under pressure. She said, “This period does not call for material celebration as people make it look, rather it calls for introspection and reflection on what we have been able to achieve as individuals and as a people.
“God has a hand in every nation, and some people don’t understand that a nation that decides to take God out of its daily affairs cannot make progress. Yes, we will celebrate, but not the way people look at it, and not just about food. If you have, bless others, and if you don’t, appreciate Him that you are alive. The question I would ask myself is where am I; where am I supposed to be; am I in the right direction and am I focused on the right things, so that I could be where I’m supposed to be. These are the questions we should be asking ourselves this season, and that honest assessment could give one joy.”
Be creative with what you have: It is common and almost a tradition for people to go for picnics during the Christmas season. Even though that is good for bonding and having fun, Attoh explained that people should not see it as the only way to have fun during the Yuletide. She said people could stay at home and have fun.
She added, “Families can go out for a picnic and it becomes an opportunity for the family to stay together and listen to one another, especially those who live in cities like Lagos, where families don’t really spend quality time together. But if there is not enough money to go out, you could stay at home and have a beautiful, relaxed conversation as a family. If you made New Year resolutions, how well did you keep to them and if they were not fulfilled, no need to bite yourselves; just examine what happened and look at what you can do better in the New Year.” She pointed out that it’s not the amount of money spent that makes people happy, especially during the Yuletide, but the friendly atmosphere. She added, “The camaraderie and the fact that you are together will make everybody happy. People are now more interested in going to the cinema, but even at home, you can recreate the environment for yourselves and everyone would be happy. You could do snacks and let everyone contribute and while doing it, you could be having a casual conversation. There is joy in good company.”
Give your loved ones a good treat: It seems customary for parents to buy clothes for their children for Christmas, but according to Attoh, parents who have no such plans or could not afford to buy new clothes could still put smiles on the faces of their children. She said, “If you can’t buy new clothes for them, you take their clothes to the drycleaners and the clothes would come out better than before. It is just to do something different from what they are used to. Children are not really interested in material things as such, it is adults that are more like that and because we don’t have time for those children, we use those things to assuage our own conscience. Sometimes, all children want is for their parents to be around, and of course with food available. As a growing child, I was not interested in the kind of clothes they would buy for me; rather, I was more interested in my parents being around so that I could share with them.”
Have a post-Christmas plan: While it seems somewhat easy to be carried away with the excitement of the season, people are often advised to bear in mind that the season after Christmas would come with its own expenses, like paying school fees, house rents, among other sundry expenses.
She said, “Whether rich or poor, people should take the economy into cognisance in the things they do this season. There are responsibilities after Christmas and what you do with your finances this season tends to have a direct or indirect impact on your finances after the Yuletide, so people should spend wisely. Do you see people in European countries and other developed countries celebrating the way we do here? It’s a period to reappraise our lives and that is why I said it’s a time for reflection and not just for eating and drinking.”