Making sense of cents
Let’s review how you can keep the costs of Christmas low:
- Make your own cards, decorations and wrapping from recycled materials
- Share the cooking around and go with low cost festive dishes where practical
- Steer Christmas parties to the bargain basement
- Reduce your present list and reduce the costs of each individual present (through careful shopping and by making things yourself)
So go back to your Christmas spreadsheet and adjust the figures according to your new ideas and see if you can bring the total down to a cost you’re comfortable with. If you can, rest easy (with crepes: today is Pancake Tuesday). If you can’t, cut again until you can.
Hannah asked me to add another person to her birthday dinner reservation: her new boyfriend.
“Stay calm, Mum,” she added. “I’ve only known him a few weeks and he does have some faults so don’t put him in your address book yet.”
I won’t get excited: when people are only three weeks into a relationship, they usually don’t notice faults at all, even if their new love smells like a warthog and keeps severed feet in a jar in the bathroom. This guy doesn’t sound like a keeper.
 I know you can’t make fairy lights from recycled materials but one New Year’s Eve, my niece Emma melted down the dozens of half-used birthday candles she found in the kitchen cupboard and turned them into one big candle that she burned through to the New Year (which was a custom my Nanna used to follow. I think it was supposed to bring good luck) but it did feel a little spooky: it was like all of our birthdays and all of our years of life were going up in smoke.
 This is a thing my daughter Hannah’s friend Lachlan is good at: he’ll snap up bargain strawberries at the market at the end of the day and make strawberry gelato for not much more than the cost of the sugar. He’s also a whiz at turning wilted herbs into green goddess dressing, sour cream into pastry and a single sausage into an exciting pasta sauce. Hannah says it’s his superpower.