What will you get for Christmas this year?

Some books you’ll never read? Tasteful bath salts?

Or maybe you’ll get something awesome because you’ve bought it yourself.

A survey by Barclaycard revealed last week that on average we spend a whopping £280 on gifts for ourselves every year. I’m not talking ‘treats’ either, I mean actual presents for ourselves for birthdays and Christmas because we don’t trust other people to buy us something that isn’t awful.

What’s not clear from the survey is if we actually get this money back – are we choosing our pressies and being reimbursed discretely at a later date, or are we simply buying our own presents, full stop?

With me, it’s often the latter.

Being a single parent at Christmas and on birthdays can be a little depressing. You fork out loads of money on the kids, and what do you get in return? Lousy hand-made gifts and cards.* There’s no one in the house apart from you with an actual job, so you get the rather short end of the stick.

A couple of years ago I decided to take matters into my own hands. I was fed up with being the only one of the three of us in bed on Christmas morning not opening a stocking full of gifts. Father Christmas had very kindly left bulging bags of goodies at the foot of Bee and Belle’s beds, so where was mine? I put a note up the chimney, but nothing, nada. Desperate times called for desperate measures.

I went to the cashpoint and took out forty quid. Then I came home and gave it to Bee. “Use this,” I told her, “to make me a Christmas stocking.” She looked a bit taken aback at first, but quickly came round to the idea, because who doesn’t love being given somebody else’s money to spend? “I want lots of things to open, but nothing crap.”

You have to be direct with children I find.

Christmas morning came around and hoorah! Santa had been for me too. It was very exciting and well worth the investment, even if most of the stocking budget seemed to have been blown on a teeny tiny iPod speaker in the shape of a jukebox. (I was more explicit the following year about what I meant by ‘crap’).

What do you reckon? Do you buy your own gifts? Or is it the thought that counts, even if the thought only goes as far as the bath salt aisle of Boots?

*This is a joke Belle. I love you hand-made gifts really. And the cute things you wrap up from your room.



  1. 5 November, 2012 / 7:49 pm

    I normally get home made gifts like a paper purse and IOU certificates but I also give my eldest some money to buy something little from him and his brothers to me, which he does a pretty good job too!

    • 6 November, 2012 / 3:10 pm

      I think the kids enjoy it too don’t they? Plus it teaches the that Christmas is about buying other people gifts as well as just getting them.

  2. 5 November, 2012 / 9:27 pm

    After my husband bought me the same present 2 years in a row I now give very precise instructions (or hover behind him whilst he fills in his credit card details on my internet shopping).

    • 6 November, 2012 / 3:10 pm

      Haha! Did he realise or was it just stupidity?? I am picturing you now, with all your tabs at the checkout stage, leaning over his shoulder :-)

      • 6 November, 2012 / 4:02 pm

        He didn’t even twig when I gave him a dirty look when opening the presents. Later he said that as they were very nice earrings they had just caught his eye twice. Problem is you can’t return earrings so my friend now has some lovely silver daisy earrings

        • 8 November, 2012 / 12:31 pm

          Well, he’s being consistent I guess!

  3. 5 November, 2012 / 10:25 pm

    Having a stocking is definitely what I miss as that was the biggie with the traditional tat in my family. My OH doesn’t like tat so no stockings…but now I have N to do a stocking for (might try your tactic when he’s old enough to buy stuff though!)

    • 6 November, 2012 / 3:09 pm

      See I reckon you can do a stocking without having to do tat – Father Christmas brings my kids lots of useful things like toothbrushes and toothpaste so they get the fun of unwrapping but without it being too wasteful. He does slip in treats too mind, it’s not all toiletries and pritt sticks :-)

      • 6 November, 2012 / 7:30 pm

        Ah well, what my OH thinks is ‘tat’ isn’t really. We used to get the traditional satsuma, walnut (that noone ate), 20p (inflation would probably need to up that to £1!), and then some great things from the Studio catalogue like personalised pencils, 10 in 1 smelly pens, owl pencil sharpeners. What was great and so believable was all the Father Christmas’ seemed to get the same presents for all our friends of the same age who lived on our village estate. V clever!

        • 8 November, 2012 / 12:30 pm

          Ahhh! I love that – it really does add to the magic and make it more believable doesn’t it? It would be brilliant to get together one year with all the parents in your kid’s class and get them all exactly the same :-)

          • 8 November, 2012 / 7:13 pm

            That would be great. Makes it so truthful (ha ha) for them

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