Sunday, 27 December 2015

On Christmas spending and other stuff

Supposedly, average household spending for Christmas this year is over  £800. That means for all those like that family on The Eat Well For Less programme last week who were spending £1400 on food alone there are many, many, more spending much less and going by another programme(that I didn't see) where the extremely rich spend over £1,500 just on Christmas Crackers there are some people spending way, way more. There are also many people who dread the arrival of their credit card bill in January because they know they spent so much on the card for Christmas that they will be paying for it for half the year.

Happily our spending was well below average and all paid for up-front. Even with buying presents for three children and their 3 partners (who I like to treat all the same), 1 Dad, 1 brother, 2 sisters, 2 brothers-in-law, 1 niece, 2 nephews and a few friends I cut spending by £150 on 2014's spend.

If your normal food shop is full of treats, extras and expensive foods then buying even more special things for Christmas must cost a fortune. The joy of  our simple life is that treats for Christmas can be pence rather than £s. So the extras that are not usually seen in my shopping trolley were a bag of watercress, satsumas, bananas and condensed milk for the banoffee, some different cheeses, a 45p bottle of tonic water is my Christmas tipple, unusual fruit juices ( have you ever tried Welch's white grape, apple and pear juice - it's delicious), some fresh double cream and liquerice allsorts for Col. I had a £6 off £40 spend till-voucher from Tesco that needed using before Christmas so as my Christmas extras wouldn't have come to that amount I got some of January's shop a few days early, cat food, caster sugar, butter, a few other bits and the total was enough so that I could use the voucher. My 5p savings from throughout the year paid for a nice big ham and 2 small chickens - cheaper from our butchers than one larger one of the same weight - only four people meat eating on Christmas day so it would have been stupid to have had anything bigger.

It was annoying this year to have to buy parsnips and Brussels sprouts, our parsnips are about the size of a small golf ball and are rotting in the ground, while the B sprouts had a bad attack of white fly and never recovered. I have been picking a few but such poor quality I decided to get a stalk of sprouts for £1.50 from the local nursery, while there I also bought a few large Naval oranges - my favourites and much nicer than smaller ones in Tesco.

 I always cook the ham early Christmas eve so that we can have some for dinner and then for Christmas day tea and for several days afterwards. We will eat it with pasta and leeks in a sauce, with chutney or mustard in sandwiches,with potatoes and veg and maybe with egg and chips until it's gone.

Most of our Christmas present spending is for our children and their partners. They have things from their wish lists, vouchers or  money. For sisters and brothers-in-law this year I did hampers with home made chutneys, relishes, jam, marmalade, Dundee cake, raspberry vinegar, spiced nuts and included a bottle of red wine and ingredients for making mulled wine. Col's dad also had a box with some home made and some bought bits of food. Brother had some drill-bits he wanted. Nephews and niece had money as I've no idea what they like.My main aim in all present buying is to give something useful. I hate the thought that I've given something that will be unwrapped and then donated to a charity shop at the first opportunity - and I HATE tat! I'm also equally glad when we get useful gifts - Col's brother asked us what we would like and we said pairs of pants for Col and postage stamps for me - boring to some I'm sure, but useful for us on our living-on-savings regime.

Another thought - When did it become THE thing to have smoked salmon etc for Christmas day breakfast or to stock a cupboard with every conceivable type of alcoholic drink imaginable? Neither of which we've ever done. Does drinking all that booze make you happier or just poorer?

AND finally, by special request from Jennie, here is the picture of the 26 books that made up my Christmas presents from Col, sister-in-law, son and daughter.


The crime collections on the right are new books from Book People that I bought as my present from Colin, as are the 3 by Maureen Jennings. Most of the others were purchases off my Amazon wish list ( often for 1p which is probably how I ended up with so many!), made up of books to add to collections that I've not read yet, WWII books and ideas from other blog writers. How lucky am I?. All these will come in very useful if ever we get the chance to move to our hovel in a part of the country where ordering library books isn't free.

Thanks to Mrs G, Cornelia, Sooze, Marlene Sheila, Sadie, Mrs L.H. Jennie, Jan, Deborah, My shabbychic, Tracy, Simon jamcake and KCs court for comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow
Sue
P.S. If ever I should mention in future posts how dry it is in Suffolk and how difficult to get things to grow, please remind me about the poor folk of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria where Christmas and New year and several months of 2016 have been and will be completely ruined by the days of continuous rain and flooding. I'm not sure anyone can prepare for that extreme rainfall.