Christmas: It’s about the Brussel Sprouts not the buying & spending

Christmas 2005 was my best Christmas EVER. I spent the day knee deep in mud, shared one slice of Christmas cake with my family and sang Christmas carols with complete strangers. We were travelling to the Maasai Mara in Kenya in a rusty old minivan and spent 14 hours of Christmas Day waiting, patiently, to cross a flooded river. There were no presents, no decorations and no lavish commercial displays of affection. Instead me, my mum, dad and sister laughed until our bellies ached, created impromptu no-prop’s Christmas games, celebrated uninterrupted quality time together and made memories we’ll cherish forever.

This year Christmas spending is set to cost each Australian AUD $1,079.00. Research by the Commonwealth Bank forecasts that Aussie’s will spend $7.6 billion on gifts and $4.6 billion on Christmas holidays, whilst research in the USA suggests that the average American will spend more than 15 hours in the next three weeks shopping for gifts.

Many believe that Christmas is now more about spending money.

  • In the run up to Christmas 2012 TV personality and I Quit Sugar author Sarah Wilson wrote “of the $50 billion we will spend on gifts in Australia this Christmas (2012) $700 million will be in landfill by February 2013”. More recently she wrote “Australians toss $8 billion worth of edible food every year”.
  • Minimalist Joshua Becker wrote “many of us search department store shelves to find the perfect gift for “someone who has everything,” whilst 768 million people do not have access to clean drinking water and 2.5 billion people live without proper sanitation”.

So I’m asking “Christmas. Is it about the Brussel Sprouts, not the buying & spending?”

Yes, personally, I believe it is.

In a recent Courier Mail article “tis the season to spend up” Commonwealth bank economist Diana Mousina says “there were still more negative consumers than positive consumers, the majority of people are concerned that the unemployment rate will keep going up” ….. and I’m one of ‘em.

This year I’ve been calling myself a revolutionary – just like Russell Brand! – because I’m buying nothing new or second hand for one whole year. I’ve just completed the eleventh month of my 12-month (2014) lifestyle experiment. So here are my 5 things I’m doing this festive season

1. Presence is the present

I’m spending time not money with the people I love and cherish. I’m switching off the TV, the phone, the computer and the social media. I’m reconnecting. I’m giving people my quality time not my money. That means helping my friend Deb with the homeless shelter soup kitchen, listening lunches with colleagues, long beach walks with my best friends and good fun days out with my family. In today’s frantically busy world an hour of time is priceless and so sharing each other’s presence really is the greatest present of all.

2. Re-gifting

I’m not too embarrassed to re-gift. My Great Aunt May was a serial re-gifter. Years ago it was frowned upon but with the rise of swapping, sharing and restaurant doggie bags anything goes. I’m finding precious books I’ve read and loved, I’m writing a personal message inside and I’m re-gifting them to someone who’ll appreciate them just as much as me. Happiness doesn’t have to be purchased in a store.

3. Experiences and memories

It’s the memories we make, not the presents we receive that we’ll remember for years to come. I’m giving my family, who I only see once or twice a year, experiences to treasure not something manufactured and wrapped in plastic. I’ll express my love with things they love; membership to the local lawn bowls club for my Dad, movie tickets, coffee vouchers and afternoon teas after long country walks.

This year me and my mum will be hanging out to see the Queen and royal family attend the Christmas Day church service. We hope to get some selfie’s, so look out for us on TV!

 4. Borrowing not buying

I’m borrowing, not buying. If I need extra plates, cutlery or chairs I’ll borrow them from neighbours. Moses henry Cass said “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”. Our world’s resources are limited so I’m borrowing what I need, if and when, I actually need it.

5. Contentment not comparing

Everyone is on a different life journey and we all have a different story. Let’s not compare our Christmas with others instead let’s enjoy the one we have. Let’s be content with what we own, the size of our home, the age of our car and the dynamics of our families. Sure, the Smith family will have an argument – or three! – on Christmas Day but Christmas, we know, is a celebration of being together, not the perfect tree.

It all sounds easy, right?

If we really want Christmas to be about the Brussels, not the buying let’s share each other’s presence as the greatest present of all, let us not be too embarrassed to re-gift, let’s give the people we love memories to treasure, let’s be happy borrowing not buying and let us be content with everything that we are and have. That way, even if we are knee deep in mud with only one slice of cake to serve all four, we’ll make Christmas memories we’ll cherish forever. Happy Christmas one and all.

Do you agree?

What inspires you at Christmas?

What would you do for family and friends instead of buying gifts?

My 2nd book “Spent – 7 steps to break your impulse shopping addiction and buying ‘stuff’ habit without dramatically changing your life” should be on sale in January/February 2015 in e-book format on Apple, Amazon, Kobo, Nook and other outlets (approx. $4.99). To pre order a copy please email me now



@StGeorgeBank in @couriermail  (4/12/14) say “Less than 40% of Aussie’s save $ for Christmas, 12% pay for everything on credit but 18% are ‘cutting back’ this year”