"What shall we buy Mummy for Christmas?" - not always an easy question to answer, especially when I am wracking my own brains to find that special present (or indeed any present). My reply this year - "would you like to fill Mummy's stocking?" brought great delight.
Now, the point of this was not to shift all blame from me to our daughters (The Squibblets) , although that is a very useful by-product, and more likely to have smiles of fun when my wife opens some of the random gifts! The point of the exercise was to re-capture present buying by removing a few of the mental strings of attachment which seems to plague the task these days.
Our rules for this venture :
1. We are going shopping in Poundland for the stocking presents
2. Buy what ever you want (max 10 things each)
3. We are going to have fun
So what did we learn?
The budget was clearly set at £20 (for those readers overseas, Poundland is like the Dollar or thrift store, where everything costs £1). The girls could buy exactly what they wanted without checking on costs. Whilst this may seem a little bit of a bizarre approach from a Serenity Financial Planner the point is to allow they to feel the spirit of buying gifts for the right reasons - because they think Mummy will enjoy and appreciate them, not because it costs lots of money.
So, we had the budget, the venue, the amount of gifts, the remit that they could buy what ever they wanted which they thought Mummy may enjoy, and key to this, we had fun! The fun for the girls to not keep having to ask if the gift was ok, or could we afford it, the fun for me, just anticipating Rach's expressions on Christmas morning (I think our 8 year old had a far greater handle on it that the 4 year old - there really was some random stuff which went in her basket!).
Surely, that is what Christmas shopping is about - having fun, not feeling under a financial pressure or obligation, and only buying gifts that you think the receiver will enjoy and appreciate.
This underpins one of our key discussion points with our clients which we have at Serenity Financial Planning "Imagine you have all the money you could possibly need, how would you change your life, and what would you do - feel free to dream". Once we remove boundaries, expectation and financial constraints, we have a chance to flourish, to look, to aspire and to find the real us. Shopping for the Christmas stocking in Poundland brought that to us - no financial boundaries, no restrictions, and happiness.