Do we spend so much during festivities?

Family Opening Christmas Presents. Photo credit: Video Blocks

Early December 2016, my 14-year-old nephew called me on phone. “Christmas”, he grunted with a tone that implied that he was not expecting a negative reply. Before he came of age, it was the mother who did this every December.

In the past, it used to be very close to the date, but the demand last year’s- much early in December. The way I saw it, they wanted me to put them in any financial plans I would be making for the festivities-put above any was what it was.

But the surprising thing about it is that they want the money, not what it buys as a present, given to them to do what they want with it, not you choosing what suits your fancy.

“There are many people like them who I sometimes believe really do not know what Christmas celebration is all about. To them it is about eating and buying new clothes. But when you consider the money spent at this period, one sometimes thinks that perhaps we would be better off if we really chose to buy only the necessary things. I think that this would be more in the understanding and deeper appreciation of Christmas and the New Year.

“We go through a lot of stress at this time because we want to celebrate like our neighbours. Personally, the festive period makes me close up entirely; I tell myself that it would soon pass. The result is that I end up not enjoying the festivities”, says a friend

But considered on the whole one does think that we do spend too much on the holiday period as a whole, not only on food and presents, but on the entire lifestyle of the 12 days.

Call them penny pinchers if you like, but these are what some people who have done some calculations on the quantum waste that are the Christmas and New Year holidays arrived at. But the good thing is that you can splash, enjoy the festivities and still save money. These areas you simply have been spending money but can now make adjustments:

On Presents
On the average a family would still expect to spend up to N20, 000 on clothes and children’s toys. We already know that the trick is to shop early. But we know that the attractive products are available very close to Christmas. But more, the joyful expectations make Christmas shopping fun. However, any holiday-maker knows that money for obvious reason is scarce in January.

Before you buy, therefore, think if the children would still play with their toy gifts after a few months. They are either broken or the child is bored with the gift you have spent so much to buy.

We are not saying don’t buy toys. Toys are educative. What we say is that instead of beating yourself about money to buy them, make them yourself. Involve the children. There are other gains, too, apart from money saved. The family thinking out ideas and working together is a close family.

The other day I heard a woman telling another to encourage her son to design a birthday card for his grandfather. An eight-year-old who has a bent for the creative, the aunt pointed out that a personalised card would be appreciated more. “His childlike message is better than those sold en masse”, she stated. We think that same thing applies here.

Nobody has taken any statistics on other wastes although, individually, we see some signs, fruits that are dumped because they are not fit to be eaten, for example. But this is another waste, even when you claim that you are chilling at home. Even when you have not put up fairy lights, you are using more energy from simply staying at home. You are likely to watch more TV, use the microwave more often, thereby consuming more energy.

According to a survey done in the UK, the projection was that homes with too much lighting displays may be responsible for up to 400ks of C02 or carbon dioxide enough to fill two double-decker buses. But the good news is that you would use energy saving bulbs. So, save money, from anywhere possible. Switch off electrical appliances when not in use. Don’t leave them on stand-by. Engage the children somewhere; they can use the period to learn to bake instead of watching TV all day.

When you charge phones over the Christmas period, there is the likelihood that in your relaxation attitude that you could leave the phone on charging for longer than necessary, remove from charge, save energy and money. When not in use your phone charger wastes watts.

You waste energy and money if your fridge is left to be cold. At 3.50C centigrade, the coolness is alright for a fridge and the freezer works fine at 180C centigrade. A typical string of light left on 10 hours a day over Christmas will produce enough carbon dioxide to fill 52 party balloons.

Decide if your tree needs to be on all day. And where is the electricity supply? We Nigerians may ask ourselves. Your generator, which you have prepared to work all round uses fuel and money. It puts harmful emissions into the environment; don’t forget.

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