It's starting to cost a lot like Christmas! I think it's fair to say the month of festivities has crept up on us a lot faster than we imagined.
It's that time of year where people are getting ready and many of us are stressing about the extra holiday expenses, which seem almost too hard to fit in this year.
Take Black Friday for example, I can't tell you how many memes I've seen about the cost of living. The most widespread one being "Dear Black Friday, everybody has big screen TVs, why can't you put groceries on sale?".
So now that we've ranted about it, what is the solution?
The answer, I think, is normalising secondhand, handmade, consumable, experience and small business gifts.
The social stigma that giving second hand things you made at home coming across as "cheap" ... might be a little outdated these days.
Do we really need everything to be new? Do we really need to spend the extra dollars buying goods from big commercial grocery and retail stores to save time?
Handmade and consumable gifts
Personally some of my best memories from Christmas time was when we baked cookies together in the family kitchen. There's so many recipes to choose from, with budget friendly recipes being made more accessible these days.
If cooking isn't your thing then there's always the opportunity to get crafty and trust me you don't need to be an artist to make some of the DIY crafts. To help with coming up with ideas I recommend jumping online and finding lists of cool and cheap Christmas Crafts.
Sometimes though a great Christmas gift could simply be favourite consumable goods, ones which you know the person loves and will make them happy.
This could be an unexpected gift that can make someone's day. I mean how many times have we looked at a product we liked, seen the price and sighed to ourselves "next time".
When someone first said experience gift, I said 'what?!' but once I discovered just how broad an experience gift can be and how many options lie around us I started to see the beauty in it.
Whether it be a guided tour, a snorkelling or diving session, adventures in the likes of going sight seeing via hot air balloon, workshops, retreats, cultural tours - the list goes on.
I think the magic behind experience gifts is you get to give someone an adventure or life experience that will create long-lasting memories which are far more profound and meaningful than material objects, or at least that's my experience.
In fact there's a significant body of science backing the fact that humans form richer memories when they're tied to adventures and experiences, compared to memories attributed to material objects.
Now the final and possibly most important Christmas gift option is buying from your small local businesses.
The great thing about this time of year is that there's so many Christmas events where you can do this.
From late night shopping to Christmas parades there'll be plenty of occasions to find local goodies to gift your loved ones.
But if you don't manage to make the parades and Christmas shopping events, I'd recommend casting your eye to the towns around you.
So - this is the year I've vowed to ignore the temptations of stepping into large retail department stores and focus on sourcing gifts directly through small local businesses, markets and local charity stores instead.
After all it's our local communities we want to see flourish and while the quick solution can be the nearest big shop that has everything in one place, who is that helping in our hometowns?
So this is my Christmas hack for 2023 and future years because with the rising cost of living, I'd rather focus on what matters most, which is quality experiences and meaningful gifts.
For Christmas cheer is what we make it, not what we buy.