You don't need to buy iPhones and PlayStations as Christmas presents. The world really has gone crazy when people's expectations escalate to that level. I'm not religious, but Christmas is about beliefs, families and communities, not unbridled consumerism.
I want to encourage readers to consider giving simple handmade gifts. The effort put in shows you care. It's also better for your pocket and the environment.
If your children really "need" those expensive items, then figure out a way that they contribute some of the cost and have to make financial decisions. They'll thank you for it one day. If your other half expects the moon, then it might be time for a trade-in, if their other qualities don't outweigh their entitlement.
Spending money on Christmas presents is largely irrational. A lot of what's bought and all the trimmings end up straight in the op shop pile, or the landfill, sadly.
Like many people, I'm hard to buy gifts for. I don't need a lot in life, and if I really truly want something, I buy it, after a stand-down period. My heart sinks when I get a generic giftshop I-don't-really-know-you type item. A handmade gift has the opposite effect. It could be craft, sweet treats or something practical.
When the shoe is on the other foot there is a slight problem. I don't have a crafty bone in my body. But I've learned this year in particular that anyone can make homemade gifts.
Thanks to our local Facebook community group, I found myself joining a group of 24 women for a unique Advent Calendar project. Each woman (and there is no biological reason it shouldn't be any gender) made 24 identical gifts.
We met up at the end of November to celebrate our project and exchange the gifts. Each person went home with 24 numbered unique gifts. One to open every day from December 1 to 24. At the time of writing, I hadn't opened any. But they should contain a mix of crafts and sweet treats.
It's a secret what my contribution was, because at number 24 it won't be opened until Christmas Eve. A lot of agonising when into what to make.
My first plan was Christmas biscotti. The final solution involved running around all the local op shops and local recycle centre to buy materials. I must admit being proud of what I produced. Only the Sellotape wasn't consumable, reusable, recyclable or compostable.
I can bodge in two languages, so making homemade Christmas gifts doesn't come easily. If I can do it, so can anyone.
The trick is to use the internet. Search terms such as "easy Christmas crafts". They're not all naff by any means. If you add in a term related to the intended recipient's interests, you might be able to make something truly meaningful. I found myself lost in craft land after searching: "DIY iPhone crafts". One can make DIY cutlery iPhone docs, embellish phone cases beautifully, and much more.
Homemade gifts include edibles. The internet has endless options for homemade food gifts, although a lot of them are designed to pile on the pounds.
It does pay to ask the intended recipient what they really want for Christmas. Or sound the person out on a spending limit, which is great if you're making crafts. Presents are related to money and therefore something New Zealanders really don't like to discuss. The pair of you might even agree to a Secret Santa or similar where every adult present at Christmas gets one gift, not multiple.
Whatever you craft or cook, taking the time to wrap it beautifully really adds value. Even if you buy something mass produced, it will look much nicer repackaged into a box and ribbon. Search: "creative gift wrapping" for ideas.