Handy tips for a thrifty Christmas

December 22, 2010
By

Ah, Christmas. Can’t you just hear the sleigh bells ringing and that distinct sound of Visa and MasterCard executives lighting their cigars with $100 bills?

Yes. It’s that special time of year when we forget the recent recession, ignore our growing debt loads and head off to the mall to spend like it’s our last day on earth.

But there is help.

If your wallet could use a break from all that yuletide spending, read on. Without further delay, here are my tips for saving money during the Christmas season:

1. Sit the kids down and explain in a patient, calm voice that Santa Claus was laid off this year and the Easter Bunny can’t pick up the slack because he’s in a work-to-rule contract dispute. If they’re still upset, try these two words: Halloween candy.

2. Instead of paying $50 for a Christmas tree, why not free your neighbour’s yard of that pesky Fraser fir that has been blocking your view for years. If they ask questions, tell them you don’t know anything about it – but, now that they mention it, you did see a couple of city bylaw officers with saws and a mulcher parked in the street the other day.

3. Send strategic gifts in the mail. For instance, try sending empty cards saying things like, “I hope you enjoy this $100,” being sure to tear open the envelope before you mail it. You could also send broken glass in a box to friends, with a note saying, “I found this very expensive crystal vase while shopping and thought it would be perfect for you!”

4. Save money on airfare by secretly not flying home. Tell your relatives you found great prices through Bearskin Airlines and can’t wait to see them for the holidays. You just need to make quick stopovers in Inuvik, Iqaluit and Baffin Island. You’ll see them sometime around Jan. 12.

5. Every day, steal one ornament from the office Christmas tree. If a co-worker catches you, just recoil and say, “Haven’t you heard about the new austerity measures?” If that doesn’t work, point wildly in one direction and run the other way.

6. Throw yourself a Christmas party. Tell your friends it’s a potluck and to bring your own booze. When they arrive, tell them you thought it was tomorrow night and that you haven’t prepared anything. But since you’re here…

7. Avoid contact with everyone – co-workers, neighbours, spouses and relatives – for the month of December. If they ask questions, just back away slowly.

8. Tell people that instead of gifts this year, you’re giving a donation to higher learning in their honour. Then read a book or something.

9. Pretend you forgot Christmas was on the 25th this year. Tell people you really want to give them the great gift that you already bought them, but you can’t in good conscience, because, you know, it’s not Christmas anymore and it just wouldn’t be right.

10. If all else fails, tell them you’ve gone Jewish. True, this is a strategy that can be fraught with danger, especially if you announce your sudden conversion during the 12 days of Hannukah. But, if timed right, this can save you a whole season of gift-giving.

Tell your friends and family to respect your new-found beliefs by not expecting you to celebrate some foreign holiday. Ideally, announce your new Jewish status after they’ve already sent you your presents.

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