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AIBU as we can't afford all the christmas events!!

(100 Posts)
peppajay Mon 01-Dec-14 14:05:02

I feel like a really bad parent at the moment as we cant afford to do all the Christmas stuff that all my friends are doing. We are a 2 parent, 2 child family with a mortgage - we moved last year to a bigger house and I also went back to work , we run one vehicle and my husband works full time and I work part time. We have spent about £30 each on the kids for xmas and about £300 on relatives presents. Me and my husband cant afford to give each other a present so we don't. We have booked to go the pantomime £51 and will see Santa at the church fayre. My DD's classmates and our friends seem to go to every Santa experience out there, as well as going for the hugely expensive Lego/playmobil advent calendars. We live in a town where there is loads going on and we cannot afford to do it. Kids want to see Paddington at the cinema but we cant afford to do it at the moment - surely the panto is enough?? They want to go to the cinema, ice skating 3 or 4 different Santa trips, posh advent calendars- my DD especially hates school on a Monday and had a panic attack this morning about going in - as last week she lied and said we went to London to see the Christmas lights because she thought going to the beach on the scooters was boring!!!! There are 2 particular girls in her class who every weekend go everywhere - they have prob been to every pop concert and London musical and there parents make sure they get the best so they can be the best. Money is no object as their children are worth every penny. I probably sound jealous and to a certain extent I am. Another friend of mine who do a lot of expensive things with their children say we need to get a credit card then you don't need to worry, but unfortunately both me and my hubbby had bad credit card debt when we met and it took us ages to pay it off and we said we would never let that happen again. We have one in case of an emergency but otherewise we never touch it. This weekend has been horrible as we are broke until pay day and yet again they have had to make do with free entertainment an xmas crafts workshop and a walk round a garden centres xmas wonderland. Wish I could them the world but I can't!!!! I know they are going to come out of school so sad again today after hearing about their classmates amazing weekends and I know it is our fault!!!! Should I just relent and put this stuff on a card or have them miss out??? :0(

LadySybilLikesCake Mon 01-Dec-14 14:08:49

You've spent a heck of a lot on family presents sad

You can do things for free. Go out and collect some holly and ivy and make a garland, make some mince pies, make a paper chain, have a movie night in the house (DVD, pop corn and fizzy crap. Put the sofa closer to the TV for that 'big screen' experience and turn the lights off. There's nothing wrong with free entertainment.

operaha Mon 01-Dec-14 14:10:48

I do feel for you but in your situation I would have told ALL family members that you can only afford to buy for the dcs this year.

Do not put it on a card.

Arlagirl Mon 01-Dec-14 14:11:23

Yes why have you spent £300 on relatives? Why not just say you are not doing gifts this year and use that money for treats.

dingit Mon 01-Dec-14 14:13:46

I refuse to pay full cinema prices, and we could afford it. Mine go to kids vue £1.75, you just see a slightly older film. It means they won't see Padddington until after Christmas, but they'll get over it!

SaucyJack Mon 01-Dec-14 14:13:55

Agree with the PPs. I'd be cutting down on presents for relatives long before I my partner or children went without at Xmas.

operaha Mon 01-Dec-14 14:14:33

And how old are your children?
I speak as someone with one young and two older.
If they are say 10 or under they are too young for the guilt tripping and will be happy with happy parents and your time. Ive been ill all weekend and my 9 year old has barely seen me and my worst guilt is not spending time with him.
If theyre older - then they should understand money is tight. Do not run up debt because you feel guilty - this isnt the stuff that children's memories are made of.

Johnogroats Mon 01-Dec-14 14:17:04

Every family is different....and not every child will be doing everything (although some will talk about how they do). My kids (8 and 10) aren't doing the Santa thing and haven't for several years... not entirely because I am Scrooge, but because they aren't interested. They aren't interested in part, because we haven't made a thing of it. What about going to see local Xmas lights?

Can you return / recycle to your children, some of the £300 spent on relations?

wheresthelight Mon 01-Dec-14 14:17:45

I feel your pain op! my step kids get to do lots with their mum and her dp but we struggle to afford to do the same for them or our dd. they have had £shop advent calendars and we have plans to do lots of free things.

luckily they are great at adapting and they get other things here that they don't get at their mum's like their own bedrooms and they get a lot more freedom to go to the park/walk the dog/play on their bikes so they don't really see the hardship if that makes sense.

personally I would address your budget for relatives gifts in future. we have had to agree no adult gifts this year so we are only doing gifts for kids in the family not friends this year and we have set a very strict £10 budget for family kids. for dd's swimming group we did a party at our house and everyone brought food to share and we did secret santa with a fiver limit which saved everyone a fortune!

it's not easy when money is tight! I hope your dd finds Mondays a bit easier, are there any places that do free activities or free light turn ons locally that you could visit or maybe a few church fayres for extra santa visits if it's important to her?

wrt the Paddington movie (I really want to see it too and can't afford it) could you maybe ask a relative for cinema vouchers as an xmas pressie?

FruitCakey Mon 01-Dec-14 14:18:44

300 on family.
30 on kids? confused Huge difference and one I struggle to understand as my DS comes first and if I have anything left after presents and Xmas activities etc, then I will buy someone small for our family.

Perhaps next year, look at getting te family presents cost right down?

bookbag40 Mon 01-Dec-14 14:20:08

I think you are a bit mad to spend £300 on family and only £30 on kids. Can you take any of the family presents back and just do homemade gifts like cakes and biscuits for family.

FruitCakey Mon 01-Dec-14 14:20:11

something small**

Waitingonasunnyday Mon 01-Dec-14 14:21:45

I have no idea what advent calendars my DC's friends have. My honest opinion is.... some kids have lots of treats - so what?? The most important thing is that children are loved and cared for. We have a £2 charity shop board game that we often play, the DC love it. If their teacher/friends ask what they did at the weekend, if they'd played it that's what they'd tell them even if we been to visit the Queen.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 01-Dec-14 14:23:31

How old are your children?

We haven't done anything Christmas related yet - its only the 1st of December for goodness sake!

We will go and get our tree next week which we always make into a nice day out, the following weekend we are going to a carol concert. We have a pre-christmas playdate and present swap planned with some friends, but that will be at one of our houses and so a really cheap day.

I'm thinking about booking the panto but haven't got round to it yet.

Don't get sucked in, is my advice. How is it that your children are lying to their friends? Are they picking up on your feelings about all this?

£300 on relatives presents when you buy nothing for each other and only spend £30 on the DCs seems crazy - are your families not aware of your financial circumstances?

LittleBearPad Mon 01-Dec-14 14:24:32

Please don't feel guilty and don't stick things on credit cards. I'm very hmm about people who say credit cards mean you don't have to worry.

The panto will be lovely and 'live'. Movies can be watched anytime. It will be on for ages anyway at the cinema.

You sound very generous to your family too.

peppajay Mon 01-Dec-14 14:25:09

My family are great and we spend very little on them a fiver on my mum dad and brother but my DH has a huge family and everyone buys for everyone, aunts uncles cousins, great aunties and uncles. We cut it down last year and weren't very popular as now we don't buy for all his cousins children but they still buy for ours. He has 20 cousins and they all have children so you can imagine how easily it adds up. Just wish my kids could have what their friends have- people just don't seem to like doing the free stuff anymore - and I am finding that sometimes the parents want their kids to have the best and are not afraid of letting them boast about it to their friends!!!!!

Myearhurts Mon 01-Dec-14 14:25:44

YANBU as it sucks to feel like your kids are missing out.

However I do think you are looking at it in the wrong way. You don't mention your children's age, but I get the impression that the oldest one is probably old enough to be taught that you simply cannot afford to do all these things. I think it's a good life lesson really.

I commend you for not getting into debt over this sort of thing.

The greatest thing you can give your children is your time and attention. It's what memories are made of really. There are plenty of fun things you can do with them at home. Making some paper Christmas decorations for the tree, or some biscuits and icing them would not cost a lot, or would be free if you already have those things in the house.

You could take a few photographs of what you have been up to and put them into a Xmas scrap book, which would be lovely for them to look back on.

cingolimama Mon 01-Dec-14 14:27:09

I agree you've spent a LOT on family presents and wrongly prioritised them over your own immediate family.

That said, I really really sympathise. It is always difficult to be frugal around Christmas time, as the whole world seems to be spending a shedload on fun and lovely things. I'm in a similar boat OP. FWIW, I don't think it's a bad thing for children to know that they can't do/buy everything they'd like. There are so many children and families that will go without essentials this Christmas, let alone the extras, that we should count our blessings.

Check in your local listings for free events. There's always something going on at a museum or town hall.

Make an event of going to see the Christmas lights (go for the biggest display locally). Take a thermos of hot chocolate and ooh and aah.

A carol service at local cathedral or big church? Even if you're not religious, it's a lovely and festive thing to do.

Ilovetobiteyourneck Mon 01-Dec-14 14:27:41

Don't feel bad, you're doing some lovely things with your kids. You just need to drum it into them that you can't do everything, and that maybe their friends also aren't doing everything... maybe they're lying too!

I get really annoyed if my kids start up with the "everyone else is/has one" whine. They will always get a lecture on how lucky they are in comparison to 99% of the children in this world. I also tell them that the kids who boast about what they've been doing/have are normally trying to compensate for a lack of parental affection (and yes, I know this isn't necessarily true but it makes them think). If they continued to moan I would then tell them that if it was that important to them then they can save their Christmas/birthday/pocket money and pay for it themselves next year.

Personally I think it's important to teach kids about living within their means, I can't stand the whole keeping up with the Jones' business... can you tell grin?

Definitely don't go down the credit card route, you know where that leads.

peppajay Mon 01-Dec-14 14:28:22

sorry meant to says don't buy for all his cousin children that are over 16 now so we are 5 less now!!

Mammanat222 Mon 01-Dec-14 14:29:04

Aside from the odd spending (unless you have a massive family and only spent like a £5 each on 60 people it seems very disproportionate) I think now is probably a good time in your children's life to teach them that things cost money and they cannot have and do everything.

Also the whole 'she did XYZ' needs to be nipped in the bud. Your kids will always know people who have wealthier parents, its part of life. Teach them now why they are young.

We couldn't survive without our credit card [I am very good at managing it though] but I really don't think this is a good enough reason to put yourself in debt.

LittleBearPad Mon 01-Dec-14 14:29:29

That's a ridiculous number of cousins/relatives to buy for. No wonder it has got expensive.

It isn't sustainable though, surely. Can you suggest some kind of secret Santa for all the children with a set budget. None of them need presents from 20/30 people.

If this doesn't go down well then say you're not doing cousin presents anymore and won't expect any either for your children.

iwanttobemrsnorthman Mon 01-Dec-14 14:30:36

There is an offer on Warburton bread packets for a free child ticket to see Paddington at cineworld.
I got two loaves for 50 each from the reduced section last week and a free ticket smile

operaha Mon 01-Dec-14 14:32:06

fgs you should NOT be buying for 20 cousins children!!!!!!
I have 10 cousins, 5 close (though childless) 5 not close (3 with children) and I wouldnt dream of buying for them or their children - it is utter madness and quite frankly Id be a bit hmm at people (family!!!!!!!) taking offence when they know youre financial situation, that is outrageous. Stop the madness now. End it. Seriously.

Kids do not need 20+ (40!!?) pieces of £5 tat toys.

We are very tight this year - so yesterday, we didnt go to the christmas fayre in a town near us. Petrol = £30, hot chocs, a few rides each, snacks, mulled wine yada yada - we prob would have spent (2 adults 3 children) £100+ so we just didnt do it!!!!!
Same goes for meeting for drinks next weekend for a christmas thing, we've invited our friends to our house instead - rather than £5 a glass while out - £5 a bottle, evening done.
Savings can be made every step of the way and I am concerned about the kind of children yours are hanging out with that would make them feel bad about their weekends?

Time and attention are priceless. You shouldnt feel bad at all.

TurnOverTheTv Mon 01-Dec-14 14:47:26

You really need to knock the family spending on the head. They might get in a huff because you're 'only' spending £5 but do they realise the sheer volume you're buying for? There is no way I would spend that amount of money on extended family but have my own immediate family miss out.

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