I’ve been thinking of a thrifty chic Christmas

I’ve been thinking of a thrifty chic Christmas. You know the kind – the one that costs two bucks and still looks like it’s come straight out of a magazine. And while I’m working on how exactly this will be achieved, it’s got me remembering my Nan. Every Christmas she would look on our stash of toys and lollies and papers and marvel at our capacity for excess. She’d tell us she’d once got an orange (an orange!) in her santa sack and had been ecstatic as fruit had been a rare treat. She was 13 when she saw her first banana and an adult before she’d tasted a pineapple. As we scoffed our perky nanas and chocolate santas we concluded that she was bonkers and obviously hadn’t tried hard enough to have a good Christmas because we knew that there had always been refrigerated transport and you could eat or buy anything from anywhere in the world whenever you liked. Especially in a depression. Easy. With Nan, thriftiness was a very close tie with Godliness and definitely trumped cleanliness when push came to shove.

I was in high school before I realised that tin foil wasn’t a precious metal as I had always assumed by the way we were never allowed to throw it out but faithfully return it after picnics to her stash in her kitchen drawers. She took being canny to almost cult level. Her mock white bait fritters (made from grated potato) were actually scrumptious but her recycled tea bag scheme on the washing line was a family scandal. Strangely though, despite her reluctance to spend a cent more than she had to I remember Christmases at her house as being incredibly abundant. She had an enormous vege and fruit garden to raid and acres of pantry space filled with over-flowing biscuit tins. Her Christmas cake was justifiably famous and in order to maintain her alpha baker status in the town, she would routinely give all the women who asked for the recipe a fake doctored one to ensure that theirs would never turn out as good as hers. Domestic Science Sabotage!

So…in the footsteps of Nan and having done a quick and highly unscientific survey of friends and family on their handy tips for a recession- proof Christmas I’ve come up with the top 4 money savers:

  1. Discover the bohemian chic of a second hand Christmas. Old silver lamps, vintage tin toys -it’s not budget it’s classy recycling. It’s taken me years to work out that the store where the mad Latin routinely buys his designer French jeans or Norwegian leather boots from is not an exotic importers named ‘Salvaaseeon Armani’. Nor is he being maintained by some well- heeled mistress with a much better cash flow than moi. It is in fact the Sally Army Store.
  2. Quell all expectations from the outset. Tell your kids you’re not giving presents this year but are instead donating a goat to an African village because those kids need it a lot more than they do. Then suggest that you may also be interested in sending the toys and video games that they already have to Samoa for Christmas. Then when they do get that orange in the santa sack they’ll be rapt.
  3. If you’re the cook for Christmas day suggest a ‘Survivor’ theme Christmas dinner. Send all family members to the beach armed with buckets and spear guns. Tell them Christmas dinner must be hunted and killed first. Put your feet up, savour the Pinot and wait and see what comes home to Mama. Note: Tell the kids the neighbours bunnies don’t count.
  4. When the kids go troppo at the sound of Greensleeves, explain that Mr. Whippy only plays the music to tell all the little children that he’s sorry that the ice-cream has all run out for today. Works till the age of 7 apparently.

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