CHRISTMAS is a favourite holiday, but with the increasing financial difficulties we face in this economy it is getting harder and harder not to turn into a total Scrooge.
We all love giving and receiving gifts but it costs a lot and we don't always have the money.
Start early to think of ways of giving gifts without breaking the bank.
Financial counsellor Dyanne Carey said Christmas was one of the times that could send many people into fin- ancial trouble from overspending and spontaneous buying.
"And it's got to be good to avoid being just another mug in the commercial Christmas purse drain," she said.
"For a holiday that should be all about family, friends and loved ones, there are a few simple solutions to making this holiday a little less stressful financially.
"Why not donate to a charity instead of buying everyone gifts.
"On Christmas, gather around the table with your loved ones and explain which charity you chose and why it means so much to you.
"There are giving trees in many stores.
"Anyone can do this and you can each share a story about the gifts you chose for the child.
"Adults don't need gifts.
"It's all about the kids, so buy gifts just for the children."
Whether you choose to buy gifts just for kids under 18 or under 12, you can save a lot of money by not having to buy the adults presents.
Buy themed gift baskets for families.
Set a limit on the price of each gift.
If you have a lot of people to buy for, you can make it a requirement that everyone buys a gift under a certain amount, such as $25.
"You can always find cool gifts at the el cheapo stores, markets and even the Op Shop," she said.
"Another idea is to buy everyone a gift card. Along the lines of setting a price limit for gifts, if you're one of those people who is never satisfied with your Christmas gifts or never knows what to buy anyone, gift cards are an easy solution."