Monday, December 06, 2010
Merry Christmas....recession style
Well, peoples, it's that holly, jolly time again. Although Christmas will always be my fave time of the year, this year feels a bit different because, well, let's face it, we're in a recession and most of us can't afford the usual "lavish and stavish" yuletide celebrations.
In last month's Budget, the Value Added Tax was increased by 2.5% and so several commodities are now more expensive to purchase. Thankfully, several businesses have chosen to absorb the VAT this month. They're not stupid, they know their sales will be seriously affected because shoppers will be watching every penny.
Anyhoo, I gave it some thought and I came up with some ways that we can still enjoy the holidays and not break the bank:
1) Re-gift. I know I'm going to take a lot of heat for this one. It's not something I generally advise but in this harsh economic climate, when choosing a gift for that friend or even the workplace gift-exchange, why not look to see what hidden treasures you might already have in your possession?
Now, there are some ground rules to follow for re-gifting. The item should be new and/or unused and please, please please....try to remember who gave it to you. Ain't nothing more embarrasing than giving a gift back to someone who gave it to you in the first place. Wuhloss. And don't even attempt to re-gift a present to someone who lives in your house. They will remember you got it from Aunt Joyce for your birthday last year....
2) Bargain shop. You only shop on Broad Street in Barbados, Frederick Street in Trinidad or the high street of whatever town you're from? Forget that. It's time to try the local markets and street vendors, the $2 or $3 store (you can make a gift basket) and the thrift shop.
3) Focus on the reason for the season. Christmas isn't all about shopping and spending loads of money. Take time to soak up the beautiful sights and sounds of the season. Almost every day a free concert will be held in one of the town centres - check the papers and go enjoy.
4) Recycle. Christmas is one of those seasons when Bajans like to buy new things, and hey, if you can afford to purchase that new living room suite you've had your eye on the entire year, who am I to stop you? But, wherever possible, spruce up your old stuff and save a buck or two.
5) Pot luck. Ahhh, food. The centrepiece of Christmas in Bimshire. The typical Christmas Day lunch here includes green peas and rice, macaroni pie, baked pork, ham, sweet potato pie, jug-jug, stuffing, vegetables and I could go on and on. As lovely as that all sounds, preparing all those dishes yourself is not only tiring, it's expensive. This year, why not join up with friends and family and have a potluck? It'll save time and money.
6) Be your brother's keeper. You may be feeling the economic pinch this year, but I guarantee there's someone in a worse position than you. This holiday season, give a donation to a charity or volunteer your time to a feeding programme.
7) Go to church. Trini soca legend Crazy sang that we need to put Jesus in our Christmas, and I couldn't agree more. To put the icing on the cake of your yuletide celebrations, go and give praise. This is the only time of the year that anyone can get me to wake up at 3:00 a.m. to prepare for a 5:00 a.m. service. But trust me, there's nothing sweeter than than pre-dawn Christmas breeze.
Enjoy, be safe and I'll be back soon with my fave Bajan Christmas songs.