Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Credit crunched Christmas: Your stories

Christmas decorations

A tough economic climate has left many households across the UK worried about work, bills, and facing uncertain times.

Parents will spend an average of £442 on Christmas this year, with spending down on last year because of money worries, according to a study published by the Financial Services Authority .

We asked these BBC News website readers about the kind of Christmases that they will be having and what the season means to them.


Gemma and her family are looking forward to having goose on Christmas Day

With the exception of one bike and one hamster, I do not remember any childhood Christmas in terms of the gifts I received.

I remember family being together, my dad stuffing the turkey with great ceremony, shivering beside a great gas heater in St Ann's Cathedral, Belfast, listening to a service of nine lessons and carols.

Money does not have to be thrown at Christmas to make it joyous and memorable, and I say this not as a Scrooge, but as a Christmasophile of the highest order.

If our minds and hearts are focussed on what is really important at Christmas time we will not find ourselves overspending. Our children can be drawn into this.

They can get huge enjoyment out of being involved in selecting or making small gifts for each other and for relatives, which will leave much more enduring memories than a big indulgence for them.


James says children do not need expensive games consoles to have fun

I think Christmas is for children and so ours will be getting presents. But it won't be games consoles or overpriced TV branded toys. It will be things that give months of fun and not just a few hours of screaming.

Good books, small magic sets, classic games such as chess and scrabble, and a fun filled Christmas period with just enough food to make it a real celebration. Love for children is not proportional to the money you spend on them.

I was out of work between October 2008 and June 2009 so my situation has been very uncertain.

I managed to find temporary work which was due to end at the end of November but I have been extended until January.

The Rigby household decorating the tree
The Rigby household preparing for Christmas

I think for now my work status will be reviewed on a month by month basis so things are very uncertain.

There will be six of us for Christmas. I am spending it with my girlfriend, her two children and my two children, who are all between the ages of six to 11.

There will be lots of logistics involved on the day. I'll have my kids from the 23rd December to the 28th and this will be our first Christmas all together.

The shopping is all done. The presents are all bought. We are having a standard roast but I am making the Christmas pudding myself. Its Delia Smith's recipe.


Alice Wilkes
I have just been given notice on my temp contract working as a PA and I will have to look for a new job but I am not going to get stressed about it.

I am planning to get through Christmas as I usually do, working as much as I can and not wasting money on silly presents that will probably gather dust or cards that will just be thrown away.

Instead I am hosting a party for my friends with a "bring a bottle" invite and making all the food myself. I will also be making gifts for friends and family.

I have never had a big Christmas. I was brought up quite poor. Now I hate the fact that what is supposed to be about spending time with the people you care about, always ends up about buying expensive gifts.

Alice is making her own gifts
Alice is making her own gifts
Mum and I leave all our Christmas food shopping till Christmas Eve and our tradition is to have a last hour of Christmas Eve trip to Waitrose. We get lots of food at half price.

There will be three or four of us on Christmas Day. Me, my boyfriend, my mum, the dog and possibly my old landlady.

The rest of the family will come to visit on Boxing Day for a buffet style meal and it will be all about squashing people in to corners and hoping we have enough chairs.

The last few Christmases have involved driving to Oxford, Cambridge and Portsmouth to visit relatives.

This year it will be a lot more relaxed. I'm not going to do the whistle stop tour of 30 relatives. As much as I love them, I'll see them in January.


Megan Robertson
We went to Cyprus last Christmas and enjoyed it, so this summer we booked to go again but, completely unexpectedly, I was made redundant. I am going to enjoy my holiday but at the moment I am furiously writing job applications.

My husband and daughter who is 13 will be in Cyprus with me for Christmas. She likes going to Cyprus and enjoys the travelling and the food, and is learning Greek.

We will be there for a week. We're going because we wanted to be somewhere warm and although we are Christians we don't like all the razzamatazz. Who knows, it might become an annual event.

I don't know what we will be having to eat. The apartment we are staying in only has basic cooking facilities.

We don't really buy presents. We don't like to stick to certain days to giving gifts. It's the same with birthdays.

We're not that fussed about the traditional Christmas. I don't much like traditional food. I don't like turkey and I detest mincemeat. I have never gone in for decorations and I don't send cards.

The rest of the season tends to be boring, cold and only offers me a chance to work on my website because there isn't anything else to do.

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