Martin Lewis: Go ‘cold turkey’ on Christmas presents this year

Martin Lewis advises people to only buy gifts for their ‘nearest and dearest’  (PA Wire)
Martin Lewis advises people to only buy gifts for their ‘nearest and dearest’ (PA Wire)

Personal finance expert Martin Lewis is urging people to go “cold turkey” on the presents this Christmas and to only focus on people “who we really want to give gifts to”.

Speaking on his BBC Radio 5 podcast, Mr Lewis said “this year more than ever before” people in the UK have to be mindful of expenses as they celebrate the festive season against a backdrop of high energy bills and cost of living crisis.

“This isn’t about presents for your spouse or children,” Mr Lewis explained.

“This is about cutting down this ever growing list of teachers, friends and extended family that we buy for, and all put pressure on ourselves for the retail festival that is Christmas, or Eid, or Hanukkah or whatever you celebrate.

“People don’t really want or need it. Sometimes the best gift is releasing people from the obligation of having to buy for you, which is why this time of year I would encourage everybody to sign up to a ‘pre-nup’, which is a pre-Christmas, no unecessary presents pact.”

Mr Lewis said families can agree to the pact and buy each other a secret santa gift, a card, or donate to charity to avoid “tokenistic” presents that end up in the landfill.

He also had a message for those who might argue that gift giving is in the Christmas spirit of generosity: “You also have to accept there may be a selfishness in you celebrating the gift of giving, if you’re giving a gift to someone who will feel obliged to buy back for you and who cannot afford it.

“As an affluent man, I am very mindful when I do gift giving, if it’s creating an obligation of reciprocality.”

His message to families this Christmas is clear: “Let’s just go cold turkey on the gift giving and focus on the people we really want to give gifts to, who will appreciate it, the children, your nearest and dearest.

“Everyone else - secret santa, charity giving, nothing at all. Just a card. Whatever you want.

“So prenups all round.”

In the run-up to Christmas spending habits change, with households spending around £740 more in December, which is 29 per cent more than in a typical month.

But more than half of Britons say they are likely to spend less on Christmas this year, a poll revealed in October.

The Ipsos survey for The Standard found 37 per cent of adults in the country are “very likely” to spend less money this festive season than they normally would, with a further 20 per cent saying they are “fairly likely” to do so.

Out of this 57 per cent:

  • Three quarters (78 per cent) said they were likely to cut back on spending on Christmas presents.

  • 4 per cent cited Christmas decorations/festive lights.

  • Just under half (48 per cent) named going out to Christmas parties.

  • 44 per cent mentioned food on Christmas Day, and 38 per cent drink.

  • A third (34 per cent) visiting relatives or friends.

Overall, just 21 per cent said they were “unlikely” to spend less this Christmas.