As soon as November ticks around, suddenly the colours and décor of our local shopping centres get a festive face-lift. Consumerism is at its merriest in December, and for better or worse sometimes it can take away from the real meaning behind the holiday season; which is to enjoy the warm nights and spend time with our loved ones.

But nonetheless, part of the tradition of Christmas is to gift each other and bless those in our lives, so I hope some of the suggestions in this article will take some of the heat off the busy times ahead.

These are some money-saving, environment-saving, sanity-saving Christmas tips that have served me well in the past that I thought I would share to help you find the little joys in the fast-paced routine.

Make or bake your gifts

If you have a talent in cooking, baking or creativity (and that’s pretty broad so it might cover most people) I would like to suggest adding that extra personal touch to your gifts. It saves money by making things in bulk with the only expense being the ingredients, and the small jars for gifting. I have been gifted gingerbread cookies, homemade pickle jars and jams and spreads, and I have deliberately saved them until well after the holidays because I know that will be savoured and enjoyed for a beautiful occasion.

Use alternative wrapping papers

Newspapers. Now obviously you’re not going to find a shouty headline or angry-looking cartoon to adorn the gifts you present to people, but I have seen some beautifully wrapped presents wrapped with newspaper that will save you from buying the mountains of wrapping paper that are going on a one-way trip to the rubbish tip. This way, you’ll be giving it a second life and it still looks just as beautiful.

Children’s art. Engage your kids and have a great afternoon making your own wrapping paper! Set up stations of paint and make sure it is a space (maybe outside) that can be easily packed down. I have received some beautiful personalised gifts wrapped in this way in the past and I have kept the paper! It doesn’t get thrown out, it is a beautiful little memento to find another use for.

Prioritise your food-related shopping

We know that shopping can be terrifying and stressful on a normal day, and Christmas just adds to the chaos of it all. Save yourself some trouble and waiting in line by purchasing your non-perishable food items now as well as Christmas crackers, table adornments and the like so you don’t have such a big list when it comes time to buy the fresh food a couple of days before. By using lists, it certainly means you won’t be aimlessly wandering the shopping centres, instead plan your time wisely in each store. Imagine the joy you will feel when you only have to spend half an hour at the shops on Christmas Eve as opposed to three-plus hours driving yourself loopy!

Find the joy

I love Christmas. I love the summer nights spent with family and the days at the beach. In the rush of our lives, and the realisation that it is, in fact, December when April feels like only a few weeks ago, find joy in slowing down the pace. Focus on what (and who) is in front of you, and find joy in the presence of people. Find joy being grateful for what you have, find joy in giving to others, with gifts or even better, to selected charities whose work to make the holidays season more joyful for those who are doing it tough.

Lastly, I just wanted to say, I find the joy in the season in a particular event that we as a family have always called a highlight. Going to church. Even if this is the ONE time in the year where you attend, I promise you it will be worth it. Christmas is all in the name really, the birth of Christ is something that pulls the whole story of the bible together. There is joy in the Christmas lights, carol singing and tree decorating, and the present giving and the food preparing, but the greatest joy of all comes with the news of our saviour who had a humble birth born in a stable who brought JOY and hope to the world.

Blessings for the season ahead – it is really not that far away!