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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 10:42 GMT
Christmas shopping: How much are you spending?
Christmas is nearly here and the goose is getting fat, and shoppers are splashing out according to a new survey.
One third of consumers are splashing out more this Christmas than they did last year and few people are reining in their purse strings despite concerns about economic downturn and fears over job security.
Mintel, market analysts, found that on average people plan to spend £376 this Christmas and will buy on average eleven presents for members of their family and friends.
How much have you spent so far on Christmas and how much do you plan to spend? Is this your most expensive Christmas yet?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
My family loves to both give and receive gifts but all the presents we give are given anonymously so the recipient can only guess at the identity of the giver. We believe this is the best way because when we give a gift we do not want to also give a debt. Nor do we want to try to impress our loved ones with our generosity. We also insist that any gifts to us are also given anonymously.
We have many friends who are not so well off and we would hate them to feel obliged to return gifts to us that they can't afford. This method has worked well for us for many years and none of us feel any pressure at this wonderful time of year!
Christmas is a load of ****.
I feel sorry for those with children who are caught up in the consumer feeding frenzy, egged on by greedy commercial vultures.
All people should boycott Christmas, tell the marketeers that they are sick of being exploited and manipulated and demonstrate that they are capable of having a good time without being pressurised into buying unnecessary trinkets for people who live in a society where they mostly have everything they need anyway!
Vijay K. Vijayaratnam, UK
I am not religious but then neither is Christmas. It has become a national, multi-cultural festival whose main objectives are firstly to make everyone feel good (through giving to others and decorating everything), and secondly to boost the economy by spending piles of cash.
Neither objective is more important. Personally, I'll be spending around £200 I expect, although I haven't started yet (panic!).
What is Christmas about? I don't really care. What I do care about is that this special day reminds people to give special blessings to their families and friends.
I'm overjoyed to welcome in Christmas this year. After the horrors and hardships of 2001 I'm simply looking forward to sharing love and laughter with my significant other, my pets and the family (not necessarily in that order). Wishing everyone a peaceful, restful and joyous time. Oh and some snow would be nice. Cos it's free!
I love Christmas and this year is going to be even more special being with my family as I haven't been home for months. Even if you are not religious it's a time when everyone is happy and there is so much to do. It's too expensive though, I have spent £100 on presents and who knows on going out, which is hard on your overdraft when I am a student.
I'll be darting around the shops, probably spending about £400 on presents and food. On Christmas Eve, I'll go to the pub at lunchtime, drink several pints with my friends, and then stuff myself with turkey at my mum's. Then I'll go to my friends' house and drink some more. On Christmas day I'll eat chocolate, followed by a huge lunch, more chocolate, plenty of wine, more chocolate, then go to bed and wish every day could be this good!
I will probably spend about £50.
Personally, I try to avoid the annual brainwashing debacle in which everyone is told to spend vast quantities of money to confirm that they care for people.
The more effort you put into Christmas, the less of a life you have during the remainder of the year. In short, people go over-the-top on Christmas because they have nothing else better to do.
Deal with it.
I enjoy Christmas lights, I enjoy brass bands playing carols in the town, I enjoy putting up the tree and trying to think of what to give my family, in short, I enjoy Christmas.
So for me it is time to lighten up, put that roast in the oven and celebrate. It's not every day people feel obligated to be nice to each other.
I cancel Christmas every year.
Trouble is no one else listens.
Though am a Muslim, I will be spending some money on Christmas for my Christian friends and co-workers. Wishing everybody a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. May the world be a better place for people of all faiths and none.
Catherine Penfold, UK in USA
I've just committed to paying for a 3 year higher education for the youngest daughter in an poor Indonesian family I support regularly. This will cost me ca £1000, so I don't think my husband will be getting any Christmas present this year - or next! We don't need presents at Christmas, we buy when on holiday instead.
People who do not spend should be charged under anti-terrorist laws. How unpatriotic not to spend!
I have told my family that I have spent all the money on a month in Portugal JUST for me. See you in January.
When else do we stop to take time to purchase gifts for the people we love and appreciate? When else do we reflect on the blessings that life still offers and are inspired to help those in need? Instead of looking at Christmas as just another chore and expense on our already over-burdened and over-extended lives, I suggest that we view Christmas as a special time for appreciating the good things in our lives - family, friends and each other. If that inspires you to go out and buy gifts, go out and buy them from your heart (but only with the healthy endorsement of your wallet).
It's cost me a small fortune as after much nagging by the other half I've bought her a brand new VW Golf on the understanding that it's her Xmas present for the next five years!
Yes, I'll be spending a lot this Christmas - spending a lot of time with my family.
People should remember that it's your presence, not your presents that count more.
I was going to say I'd be spending nothing on Xmas, but it's not strictly true. I'll be taking three weeks off work. I'll be going to parties, eating, drinking - I've even bought a Xmas card for my mum. All the same, the total will be less than 200 quid.
Nick Clark, England
Yes, both Christmas and Eid have become big consumer exercises. A lot of awareness and spirit has been lost.
I got clobbered by Bin Laden, financially speaking and the three children will get about half of what they have received in the past. We feel that cutting back is a good lesson for them. However it is unfortunate for the many workers and emerging economies throughout the world who will suffer greatly as a result of the recession in the USA, Japan and Europe. Glad to hear the Brits are "splashing out"!
The true festival is actually 21st December. (The Winter Solstice). As a Wiccan this is my main concern but it will not stop me enjoying Christmas in the company of my partner and a couple of other close friends. I have not been in a position to spend a lot of money this year due to my having been unemployed for most of it. However I have now started my own business and although cash is extremely tight, I am not. I will do my best to make certain my partner and my friends have their best-ever Christmas.
Chris Wood, (Brit in Chicago)
I am a total non-believer in any religion whatsoever but I still find it so wrong that a "so-called" religious event is celebrated in such a commercial manner. If the high street retailers had their way I am sure that we would have at least two Christmas' a year.
I suggest that next year, no retailer be allowed to advertise any Christmas related items unitl 24 December!
Aarrgghh !! It's good to celebrate Christmas,
but it's really about giving thanks for the
light of Christ entering the world, and not
how much we can spend at Harrods.
And Jenny, Paganism isn't "nicer" than
Christianity. After all, what block of wood or
other repulsive pagan idol ever died for you as
Christmas (or Mythmas as we call it in our house) has nothing to do with religion as far as we are concerned. It is a great opportunity to get together with family and friends and enjoy spending time together... giving and receiving gifts, eating and drinking all the things you don't usually have during the rest of the year. Those of you who are harping on about the "real" meaning of Christmas would do well to remember that Jesus wasn't born on 25 December, it has not always been a Christian holiday, and aside from the nativity scenes, all of the Christmas trimmings are from a much earlier (and kinder) religion - paganism.
I would not have a problem with Christmas if it was not mentioned before 1 December. It's just too much when you see shops putting up their decorations at the end of September or thereabouts. Christmas should be special - and indeed it was. I remember from when I was younger. But nowadays it's all too commercial and lasts too long, and those darn songs played all over the place make me cringe. Zzzzzz, boring...
Limit it to December, and keep it to a family-based affair.
I can't be certain how much I've spent on presents this Christmas, but I know it isn't an exorbitant amount. More important than the amount of money each present costs is the feeling behind it towards the person to whom you are giving the gift. To put a smile on a family member's face on Christmas morning is more important than how much you spend on their present.
Christmas has become the anti-holiday. Spend, spend, spend, rush, rush, rush, pressure, pressure, pressure - all the while missing time with family and friends. I like the American holiday Thanksgiving much more.
Nick C, USA
I have worked for years to get family and friends to understand that I want nothing whatsoever to do with this Christmas rubbish. I nearly succeeded last year, but my dear brother bought me two bags of nuts and I received three Christmas cards. Damn! With luck, I shall probably hear Slade's Merry Christmas and Wizzard's I Wish it could be.... about twice, because I love the songs, but I'm sick of hearing them in every shop, pub and radio programme.
Keep Christmas to two days, as it used to be, and I might just grudgingly join in. Otherwise, you can all do with it just what you do to the poor old turkey. If you want to contact me on Christmas Day, I shall be enjoying a day at work to avoid all the nonsense, while the rest of the country is getting fat, drunk and bored. Long live the non-Christmas. You think I'm joking? Not a chance.
Much as I hate to get caught up in the commercialism of it all I tend to overspend on my children because my own childhood is remembered as a time when I was denied so much - especially love. I do know, though, that we wouldn't have Christmas without Jesus and I am teaching my children about giving as well as receiving and they have given anonymously to a charity for underprivileged children.
What, you mean money isn't our God?
Twice as much as it should because while buying gifts I keep seeing good stuff and buy it for myself.
People forget what Christmas is about. We need to remember that christmas is for celebrating the birth of Santa Claus. We should spend lots of cash and buy games consoles.
Gareth E - if retail jobs are so easy to get at this time of year why are you unemployed? From experience I know some people treat shop workers appallingly but there's plenty of kinder folk who make you feel appreciated. Yes, I've just started working at a department store, thank goodness some employers don't consider me over the hill even though I'm in my 60s! Merry Christmas!
As one of the mass of unemployed, I have to say that I'll be spending nothing on Christmas. I simply can't afford to. When all you get is barely enough to live week to week, Christmas kind of becomes irrelevant apart from it making finding jobs in the retail sector both intolerable and very easy to find.
So far it's cost me same as every year - £0! Many of the earlier replies saying what Christmas costs them are nothing but hypocites. Most of us don't go to church or even believe in Christ so why are they getting into debts to celebrate what they don't believe? Why won't people be more charitable and give these monies to charities rather than waste money on presents, wrappers and cards?
As a British Hindu, my family celebrate Christmas. Mainly because it gives us a good chance for the family to get together and what better excuse to buy a loved one presents.
Busba W, Thailand
I find that during the Christmas holidays people of many countries overspend and run their credit cards right threw the roof. Then they spend the next three months paying off their debt with interest. That means you are spending more for the individual gifts that you are buying. This year I intend to buy one important gift and that is for my son. I am opening a savings account for his education which I think would be the most important gift of all.
My husband and I will be celebrating Christmas abroad again this year. The UK is such a dismal place to celebrate the best gift God gave us. It's nice to see family for Christmas day but sitting around for a week watching re-runs, getting fat isn't our idea of fun. We prefer to go to countries where they really know how to party - this year it's Mexico. As for presents, we pass them round before we go and try to keep to a reasonable budget. We certainly don't agree with the commercialisation of Christmas, but then true Christians don't.
This is by far my most expensive Christmas ever! As it's the first since I left university, I can afford to go a little overboard, and finally make up for all those IOU's. I'm spending approx. £500 on family and friends, and don't begrudge a penny of it. I just hope they don't expect it every year!
As trite as it sounds though, I have to say the thing I am looking forward to the most is going home and spending a week with my family, giving is most fun when you are around those you love.
As Steve, York commented, I too will be spending what I can afford. Christmas for me is both a religious festival and also just a time to have fun. Also I do not expect my friends to spend money on me that they can't afford.
So far Christmas has cost me my sanity.
Reading the comments on this page makes me feel sad that all people seem to think Christmas is about is what presents cost, and whether they have a hangover. As a Christian I find it differcult this time of year, because this is a religious festival that has been lowered to pure commercialism.
The more time, love, care and attention my girlfriend spends on selecting a present for me the worse it is.
I'd settle for just staying indoors with her and ignoring the family.
Christmas is about fun and enjoyment. I love giving and receiving presents, spending the day with family and friends, stuffing my face with ridiculous amounts of turkey and Christmas pudding, the Movie Blockbuster in the afternoon and the pub in the evening. Christmas is here - enjoy it. I've spent heaps on the missus and I'm happy to do so!
I am hosting a family do for my husband's side of the family. We are for the first time not going to exchange any presents but make sure that we all spend time together which we feel is far more important. It's not that we cannot afford presents but are all in the fortunate position of being able to buy anything that we want. It is all too easy with our busy lives to overlook something that is far more important - family.
I don't know how much I'll be spending on presents but the beer tokens will have to be gathered soon I feel. I've got a great idea, let's all get sloshed! Hurrah!
No, this is certainly not the most expensive Christmas I have had. Christmas is more than just a spending spree. It's about the thoughtful gifts. If it comes from the heart, who cares how much it costs.
To Mike, UK: Are you looking for a way to excuse your behaviour of spending hundreds of pounds for the Commerce-fest?
From reading some of these comments it is amazing how tight people are and what bizarre stories and excuses they come up with to justify that.
Solve the Christmas problem by only buying presents for people who buy you one first. After the age of twenty you invariable get money for Christmas, so if you
spend a proportion of this on gifts in the boxing day sales, you're not only up a few quid, but considered a valued and loved family member.
My relatives and I have reached an agreement - what we really want for Christmas is money. This solves problems of taking things back, getting the ubiquitous socks or aftershave from grandparents, or not knowing what to buy someone. As swapping cheques for similar amounts is rather silly, we leave the money safely in our bank accounts gathering interest, and only swap a few token gifts.
My mother deserves a small fortune being spent on her this Christmas, but she'd be happiest if I spent a little more time with her and did the washing up! To see her happy is all I want and that needn't cost anything.
Steve West, York, UK
Both my partner's and my families do not make Christmas a big deal. Both of our parents already said to leave them to themselves for this year. Normally when we see something we think someone will like in the family and can afford it, we'll just buy it. Why should we have to go without for a few months after to get someone a gift 'on time' or wait until the right time of the year to buy or give it to them? You could show your appreciation and love to family and friends any time of the year, and not necessarily by any material means.
Sophie Keats, Canada
To all of you misers out there - life's not a rehearsal and you might as well enjoy yourself. Imagine how life would be without Christmas - it brings plenty of reasons to go to the pub and eat and drink too much. At least it's a holiday and a bit of fun - come on misers - cheer up.
Presents are completely unimportant. I'd rather spend the money on the experience. Good food, good wine and lots of treats. To me a good Christmas is measured by how enjoyable the whole day was, not by what I got as gifts.
I was under the impression that Christmas was about the birth of Christ and the celebration of that event in the Christian religion, not how much money are you going to spend. Many people seem to fall into the trap of over spending, over eating and over drinking over this holiday period, in the strange believe that this is what Christmas is all about. I am not what anyone could call a Christian but I respect others beliefs and find the commercialism of this aspect of religion repugnant.
Morgan O'Conner, USA
What a bunch of scrooges on this page! I'll be enjoying Christmas, it's a good excuse for a few days off work on the beer!
Every year my partner and I buy high street vouchers over the 12-month period to spend on Christmas presents. For Christmas 2000 we had bought £800 of vouchers but we only spent £600 so we had £200 to spend in the sales. For this Christmas we bought £1,000 worth of vouchers, have bought presents for exactly the same people and yet we have no vouchers to spend in the sales!. Go figure.
For someone who doesn't celebrate Xmas it's amazing how much gets spent on chocolates for work colleagues, neighbours, friends abroad and so on. This year I've already spent over £80 and that's just on boxes of Roses, nothing fancy.
As usual I'm spending as little as possible on Commercemas. If I spend more it will be due to inflation.
I'm certainly making this an expensive Christmas but since I'm in my first real job and for the first time earning a decent amount of money, I reckon that that's reasonable.
Christmas is a time to think about the people you care about and to show them that you care. Thoughtful presents, cards with heart-felt notes, they can be part of this. The cost isn't important - I'm doing the spending because it's an excuse for a spending spree. But because I've been ill over the last few years and neglected people who've continued to give me care and attention and so on, I'm spending a lot on writing and sending cards to those people to try to let them know that I appreciate them.
Martin Law, UK
Christmas is our family's time of debate and reconciliation, usually in that order. Generally, we admit whether the year has been economically good or bad. If good for all, there is no price limit on presents, if particularly bad for anyone, we set a price limit. But the main thing is that we all get together as a family, with or without gifts.
The best gift you can give someone at Christmas is company. There are too many people spending the festive time alone, gifts or money do not really matter to these people, all they really want is their family there for them.
To Will Faulkner: I'm afraid I don't share your enthusiasm for company over the festive season. I spend my entire life around people and would just love to spend a few days on my own away from family and friends avoiding small talk and arguments about who gets the last sausage roll. However, I will be getting presents for family costing well in excess of £1000 . After all it's not the receiving of presents that matters, it's how much they're worth.
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