It is sixty-five days to Christmas. Just a little over two months; I was reminded of Christmas shopping when I went to Shoprite a few days ago and saw all the decorations on display.

It set me thinking. How will this Christmas be with all the change in the country? Prices in the supermarkets and open markets are climbing through the roof. We are not even sure if the government has started implementing the 2016 budget and here is Christmas just around the corner. The traditional Christmas meal of rice and chicken may need to be seriously reviewed this year. Even local rice is not cheap anymore and with rising Dollar prices, everything needed for stew or Jollof rice has suddenly become luxury items. As for Christmas dress, hmm, na wetin be that one? Unfortunately you cannot postpone Christmas day. It is not dependent on Moon or Sun. It must come on the appointed, which is actually a good thing because it means we can plan. And Christmas must be celebrated, recession or not.

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I know that a lot of smart people have already settled Christmas for the next five years but for the rest of us what can we do to ensure we still enjoy Christmas this year?

First of all we must have a plan and a budget. No, I don’t mean the type of plan that you make in your head. I mean a real plan, well thought out and written down. It is often said that a plan in the head is only a wish, so please get a small notebook and write down your plan. And then prepare a budget to fit that plan.

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The second thing is to start shopping as soon as possible. This is absolutely essential. If you think prices are high now, just wait till end of November and early December. Don’t even think of waiting till the week before Christmas, if not you will see the proverbial pepper! Buy your rice now. And your vegetable oil too. In fact if you have good electricity, buy your ingredients now in bulk, blend, and freeze. If you have issues with electricity, try to buy as many of the non-perishable stuff as you can.

Check last year’s Christmas tree and decorations. There’s no law that says you must buy a new tree every year. Bring out the old decorations and check them for wear and tear. When Christmas decorations are stored well they usually last several years so please don’t feel obliged to buy new ones. This is a season of change. Be smart with your money. If you must get a new tree then get it now before the rush begins; same with the decorations too. And try to reduce the quantity you buy. There’s more to Christmas than all the bling, and believe me nobody is bringing a measuring tape to check the height of your tree. It is not a competition and don’t forget there’s school fees to pay in January.

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Last but definitely not the least on our plan: gifts! Yes, Christmas is a time for sharing and recession or not, life must go on. Instead of expensive toys that the kids will spoil two days after Christmas, try to invest in some good books. Buy story books for your kids for Christmas and they can read them all year long.

There are a whole lot of activities you can line up for the festive season. There are a lot of ways to make Christmas season memorable without going into debt. Hopefully we shall be sharing some ideas. For now, let’s go shopping!

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