I am a 45-year-old nurse who works part-time, married with a 5-year-old girl. We have a mortgage. I have two jobs that bring in €30k a year in total. My child’s children’s allowance goes into her college fund. We try and save a little every month for house improvement and unforeseen expenses so I would never dip into them nor max out our credit card for Christmas.
The Christmas parties
I get a One4All voucher from one company that I work for, €150 each year, which is lovely. They pay for our Christmas night out, which is normally late November, which is very generous of them.
I try and organise my highlights and cut to fall on that day and spend €120 on that. One of my sisters is a similar dress size to me, works in retail and buys a lot of clothes, so she kindly lets me borrow an outfit from her. I don’t drink alcohol so I drive to the venue myself.
The other company is a charity so the staff save up all year in a fun way by bonus ball lotto. That money funds our night out and €50 each goes towards our meal and drinks. I borrow another dress to wear, and as it is normally so close to the first party, my sister straightens my hair. My husband doesn’t normally go to his Christmas party as it is so far away, but he will have a few Christmas drinks after work with his department, which costs €50.
Presents and gifts
Santa spends €150 on our five-year-old. I spend €100 on my mother; €100 on our child, and €100 on my husband — he spends a similar amount on me.
As all of my five siblings have children, we don’t give to each other, just to the kids. I spend €150 on them in total; one of them is my goddaughter and godmother to my daughter, so she gets a little extra. These are only token presents — nothing extravagant as they all are inundated with presents each year.
We spend €10 each on my daughter’s teachers — her primary school teacher, after-school teacher, piano teacher, swim instructor, karate sensei, dance teacher and art teacher. Both myself and my husband have Secret Santa at work, so a budget of €15 is normally given to that.
We have a SVP Giving Tree at work so I allocate €50 on presents for them. At school, we have a collection for the Peter McVerry Trust so I contribute €10 to that. We donate a €15 hamper to the Methodist church for their hamper appeal and another €15 hamper to the Catholic church for their Hospitality Kitchen. I also spend €10 on Christmas cards for charity. I buy a tin of chocolates for each emergency service in our town (ambulance service, fire department and Gardaí) so that is €30.
My daughter will have a Santa day at school so a Christmas jumper of €15 will be bought for her. We don’t do the Santa experience, as she is quite shy and doesn’t like to go and see him.
On Christmas Day
On Christmas Day, we will give €25 to the collection at mass. I buy a nice top for Christmas Day and give myself a budget of €30 for that. I hosted Christmas last year for my mother, one of my sisters, brother-in-law and their teenage son, so this year, we will be at my mother’s. I will bring an assortment of festive food and drink so will spend €50 on that.
We have our tree and decorations from previous years, and these get added to every year by buying in the sales post-Christmas. I always buy a poinsettia every year, but that doesn’t break the bank at just €3.
What we’ve learned
Adding that all up seems like a lot of money for one day. I think myself and my husband have enough and should only give each other a token present from now on to show our daughter the importance of giving but that it shouldn’t be excessive. For us as a Catholic family during advent, we try and focus on the true meaning of Christmas which is Christ, without getting too carried away with the secular world. As the Americans say, Jesus is the reason for the season! Blessings to all!
This article was originally published in December 2019