Well, Christmas is almost upon us once again. Out come the lights, decorations, carols and wrapping paper… as that song you might have heard goes: ‘Tis the season to be jolly! Except, for many, the reality is much different.
For people all over the UK, Christmas is a time when stress, money worries, loneliness and loss can feel all the more difficult to deal with, and many are left feeling at their most desperate and sad.
At Christians Against Poverty (CAP) we’re tackling this problem head on. Through our emergency food hamper appeal, we’re aiming to bring light, joy and faith into hundreds of households this Christmas. Visit capuk.org/christmas to get involved.
In the meantime, we’ve put together our top tips for a happier Christmas. Whether you’re living on a tight budget or not, these are things we can all do to add a little more joy to the joyful season.
Spend time, not money
There’s inevitably going to be pressure to spend money over the festive period, which can be daunting (and often dangerous) for those living on a low income or tight budget. Try to remember that most presents will be put away, forgotten about or even broken over time, but great memories last much longer. Spend time with family and friends, or people in your community. See what events are on at your local church – the perfect place to find good company and have an enjoyable time without spending loads of money.
Here’s a thought: why not give up alcohol in December? Hear us out! For many of us a few bevvies over the festive season may have become a normality, but is it really essential in order to have a good time? Is a month really such a long time to go without? Banning the booze is proven to lift our mood AND it’s money that could be spent elsewhere. Give it a go this year and, hey, if it doesn’t work, there’s always next Christmas for an eggnog or two.
Come off social media
While we’re on the subject of giving things up, how about saying goodbye to social media for a while? We’ve all been there: Christmas morning and our Facebook/Instagram/Twitter feeds are as full as a stuffed turkey with photos of piles of presents and gushing messages. And although it’s nice to see our friends showing their gratitude for what they’ve received, it can leave us feeling deflated, envious and inferior. Switch it off and enjoy your own Christmas instead.
One of the biggest anxieties around this time of year is providing for our families, giving them the big, lavish, fun Christmas we see all over the media. The children are expecting lots of presents, the in-laws are expecting a huge meal on Christmas Day, the colleagues are expecting three nights out and a financial contribution for an inflatable reindeer… ARGH! But what if we were to soften these expectations a bit? Talk to these people early on and let them know you’re doing Christmas on a budget this year. You don’t have to go into detail, it’s simply about letting them know what to expect.
Count your blessings
Literally – do it! There’s nothing more uplifting than making a list of all the things in your life that you’re grateful for. Times may be hard, but as CAP’s brand new strapline says, there’s always hope! Oh, and it doesn’t cost a penny.
Be a friend
Many people – especially the elderly – are sadly looking ahead to a Christmas on their own. According to the charity Age UK, 1.2 million older people are chronically lonely. So here’s an idea: why not volunteer and help provide companionship? Not only will you be bringing a huge amount of joy to somebody in need, but it’ll be an uplifting experience for you too – everybody wins! See ageuk.org.uk/no-one for details on how to get involved.
Care for you Finally, remember to look after yourself and those around you. If you feel that you may be suffering with depression or have other mental health concerns, call Mind, the mental health charity, on 0300 123 3393 (weekdays 9am to 6pm). If your financial situation has got to the point where you need advice about debt, call CAP on 0800 328 0006 (weekdays 9:30am to 5pm).
From everyone at CAP, we wish you a very happy Christmas indeed.
Sponsored Article by Riaan Van Wyk