You’re looking forward to a low-key Christmas, where you can spend time with your family, indulge in some festive foods and exchange a few small gifts. But then, you remember that blogger on Instagram from last year, who bombarded your feed with images of her perfectly-styled (real) tree with a pile of presents under it, elaborate food banquet and immaculate Christmas day outfit. Suddenly, your Christmas plans feel a little inadequate. You check your bank balance and it’s looking a little more ‘plastic tree and party poppers’ than ‘designer bonbons’, but your FOMO gets the better of you and you end up racking up a bunch of debt on your credit card. Sound familiar? Welcome to the Christmas comparison trap.
According to research from online marketplace, Groupon 30% of Aussies worry their Christmas plans won’t live up to their families’ expectations, due to unrealistic expectations set over social media. As a result, over a third (39%) of Aussies admit to spending over $1000 on Christmas-related items due to social media. The good news is, you can still have an awesome and memorable Christmas without getting yourself into financial peril.
Read on for 5 tips for overcoming the social media comparison and avoid Christmas overspending.
You can still have an Instagram-worthy Christmas without your bank balance hitting the red zone. Hit up your local Aldi or discount stores for festive props you can use to style your home without breaking the bank. If you’ve got a bit of time and enjoy craft, you can also learn how to DIY almost any type of Christmas decoration you could ever think of on Pinterest.
“The most important thing for me at Christmas is spending quality time with my family and enjoying the special moments. This means letting go of needing everything to be perfect and instead embracing the chaos and running with it,” says financial blogger Olivia White. “Reality check: having fun with my family is so much better than a perfect dinner party! Do a little bit of Christmas planning each day that doesn’t delve into your family time so you get the best of both worlds.”
Instead of buying every member of your family an individual Christmas present, what if you simply did a Kris Kringle? This is especially helpful for those with big families. “You won’t have to splurge on all members of the family and everyone is included,” says Olivia White. “Set a budget you can all spend so nobody feels pressure to out-do!”
With most people on a break from work, the days around Christmas are the perfect time to take a mini digital detox. “Give yourself some time off social media, or at least remind yourself that what you’re seeing isn’t real — it’s the selected highlights, carefully posed and seen through a filter,” says Dr Dain Heer, an inspirational speaker, best-selling author and co-creator of Access Consciousness.
Instead of splurging on items that may never get used, think about gifting an experience. There’s a range of giftable experiences available from delicious dining outings, beauty treatments, weekend getaways, sporting activities like golf or horse-riding, and more. It’s also the perfect way to grab a quick deal if you’re guilty of leaving your Christmas shopping to the last minute. Just print it out, wrap it up and add it to the Christmas tree as a little decoration and keep the receiver guessing what you’ve got them.
“That word ‘should’ is really important here: start noticing how often it comes into your thoughts and speech this time of year,” says Dr Dain Heer. “Let go of at least one tradition that you uphold because you think you should. For example, if you cook roast beef because your mum always did when actually you’d really love to try something new — go for it. Choose what suits you and your family as it is today.”