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Managing expectations at Christmas during the cost of living crisis

Updated for 2023

Everywhere you turn, the effects of the cost-of-living crisis can be seen. With inflation increasing at an alarming rate, whether in your weekly food shop or the continuing upward trajectory of energy prices, many people are struggling to get through the month.

With Christmas around the corner, many are questioning how they can afford the seasonal festivities. With the average British household in 2021 spending £997 each on food, decorations and presents at Christmas, families will be looking for ways to reduce costs this year.

This article aims to explore cost-friendly alternatives to some of the most popular children’s toys and gadgets as well as ways that you can make Christmas 2023 one to remember, for all the right reasons.  


Managing expectations

Sometimes it is important to manage the expectations of our children and support them in understanding that the value of a gift goes further than the cost. Encourage your children to make presents for the family such as painting a picture for Nanny and Grandad and show them that a present from the heart is worth more than a present from a purse. If your child is wanting an expensive toy, explain to them that certain items may not be possible, but support them in working out how they can achieve it. Maybe asking for money towards the item or getting them to wait for the post-holiday sales to possibly pick up a bargain. This will not only help you to manage their expectations, but it will help your child to learn to appreciate the value of saving and a sense of achievement when they get the item they want. Get your children to be involved with the planning of Christmas so they can have a voice as to how the festivities happen. With everyone involved and planning a piece of the day, it may be the best Christmas yet! 


Gift ideas for under £10


Creart the Royal Horse

For the budding artists out there or any lover of horses, the Creart the Royal Horse could be just what you are looking for. Aimed for those children aged 9 and above, the Creart the Royal Horse comes with everything you need to create your very own beautiful painting. It comes with a high-quality painting canvas, 15 acrylic paints as well as an easel to hold these, a fine point durable paintbrush for detail painting and a presentation frame to display the painting once finished. This offers incredible value and hours of fun and enjoyment for children and would be a great activity to keep them entertained whilst you finish off the Christmas dinner! 


The Sweet dreams Puzzle

For those families looking for activities to do together, then a jigsaw puzzle is always a great option. Here at the Good Play Guide, we have a range of jigsaws that would suit all budgets and difficulty levels depending on age. The Sweet dreams Puzzle is aimed at children between the ages of 4 and 6 years and has 32 pieces. Each puzzle comes in a unique and innovative box to complement the artwork theme, and all are brightly coloured and imaginative in design. This is an activity that all generations can get involved in, from the youngest members to the eldest.  Why not enjoy some mulled wine and mince pies or cookies and milk for the little ones whilst you try to complete the puzzle? Talk about what is happening in the picture, invent a story about the characters and really get the imagination flowing. Make it as silly as possible! It is all about being together, creating shared memories and having fun.


The My Magical Book range


My Magical Santa and My Magical Snowman are the perfect presents for those children aged between 2 and 5 years. With push, pull and turn mechanisms and a sparkly foil cover wheel, these books have plenty to keep little ones engaged and entertained. Priced at only £6.99 each, they are an affordable gift for Christmas day, or for a Christmas read the night before. The beautifully coloured illustrations are paired with gentle rhyming text to create a perfect magical world, with bright, sparkling detail and things to spot in four magical scenes.


Spending time as a family is what is important 

Christmas is not about how many presents are under the Christmas tree or about how much you have spent on each other.  It has been said many times before that a child who has been given a gift will spend hours playing with the box, whilst the toy sits on the sidelines.

Sometimes the ‘stocking filler toy’ may be the toy that is played with the most. The simplicity of this goes to show that children do not need to have the latest elaborate toy for Christmas to be special. It is the simple things that bring so much joy and spending time with loved ones is what the Christmas spirit is about. 

When the covid pandemic reached our shores and we were forced to be away from our loved ones, it wasn’t the presents that were missed. It was the people that were missing from our homes that were what was truly noticed. If you are unable to spend money on presents, then this is OK. It is more important that you spend quality time with your children and create memories with them. 

Play board games or guessing games such as charades, watch a Christmas movie or bake some Christmas cookies! Listen to Christmas music whilst you make homemade Christmas decorations and wrap up warm for a Christmas morning walk. Why not be creative and collect leaves and pinecones and make your own Christmas reef to hang on your front door ready for the arrival of Santa? This would be a fun activity that all the family can get involved with and is something you can do together. 



You are not alone if you are worried about the affordability of Christmas this year. Many families across the country are feeling the same. But with some forward planning and open imagination, the Christmas Spirit is more affordable than you think.