UK

Your austerity Christmas

Christmas is usually a key sales period for retailers and businesses as people stock up on presents for their loved-ones.

But at the end of a lean economic year, many councils and businesses have been deciding against a lavish festive spend.

BBC News website readers have been sending in their plans for celebrating Christmas without spending a fortune.

Deborah Brett, Amersham

Image caption Deborah has baked batches of biscuits for friends and family

This year I am investing time rather than money into my Christmas presents.

I've been spending the day making lots of Christmas biscuits - I'll be filling tins with them for gifts, and giving a few biscuits wrapped in cellophane to friends and neighbours instead of Christmas cards. I've made a number of flavours - ginger crunch, chocolate sugar cookies and jam thumbprints.

Over the past month, I've been making flower brooches out of felt and organza to give as gifts.

I've also been selling some of my belongings on eBay to finance things, rather than increasing my credit card debt.

Mary Middleton, Spain

Image caption Family photos take pride of place around Mary's modest Christmas tree

Given the crisis both here in Spain and elsewhere we have decided it would be wrong to buy things we don't want or need.

Instead we have asked that family and friends who are not here with us donate to charity rather then send presents and cards.

We will not be buying presents, we will spend the day as a family, share a meal and each other's company. We do have a Christmas tree but it is very small - our family photographs take up more space than the tree.

We plan to make Christmas about enjoying time with family and being thankful for what we have.

Heather Barkhouse, Ontario, Canada

Image caption Heather wrote individual messages in each of her home-made cards for her colleagues

My company didn't have a Christmas party this year so I decided I would bring my own Christmas to work.

Being on a budget I decided to make my own Christmas cards.

I was inspired by something I had made earlier in the year after my husband had an organ transplant - a package for the family of the organ donor describing who we were and showing what the transplant had done for us.

The cards I made contained personal messages and poems, describing how each of these people had helped me through the year.

Some of my colleagues actually cried when they received these cards. I think they were surprised and touched.

I am so happy I did it - my gift was from the heart and seeing how they appreciated these cards was like their gift back to me.

Rachel Langford, Manchester, UK

This year has been particularly hard and I have spent less than £150 on gifts and have been using loyalty points and vouchers from credit cards that are used for weekly shopping and petrol.

I'm not that caught up in the materialism of Christmas - I see it as an opportunity to spend time with my family rather than to buy things.

We've decided that we will all only buy presents for the children and that everyone will contribute to the Christmas lunch.

Ordinarily one couple would provide lunch and we take it in turns, but this year my mother-in-law will do the turkey, I'll be doing the puddings and someone else is doing the vegetables. That way no one person has to pay all the food costs.

On the day we'll be playing board games and having a go at my brother-in-law's Nintendo Wii which he's bringing it down for everyone to use.

Henry Procter, Oxford

I've decided to pay off as many debts as possible with the money I'd usually spend on Christmas presents.

Each member of my family will be receiving a hand-made card thanking them for helping me pay off my debts as well as supporting the demise of capitalism.

It was a couple of factors that decided this for me - because of the recession, I've become more conscious of financial circumstances.

Rather than put myself under pressure by getting myself into more debt I decided to reverse what is expected of everyone.

If you weigh everything up, you need to think about what you really want to do - not what the high street tells you to do.

Your comments

I usually spend about £150 on my partner and vice versa but this year we have not purchased anything. Instead we have decided to opt for a romantic Christmas day alone where we will enjoy a nice meal, watch some festive films and remember what it is just to appreciate how important we are to each other. Mandy Hill, Bournemouth

Each year I had to buy present for six family members. As a single woman it brought a lot of strain to my purse. This year I suggested something else. We all wrote our name and wish list on a piece of paper. Put it in a bowl and everybody picked a piece of paper. I can give a nice present to one person, instead of six cheap presents to six and it took less time. Esther Vrolijk, Terneuzen, the Netherlands

I have made hampers (which I got on eBay for under £2 each earlier this year) containing home-made cider, jam, Christmas cakes and fudge for other relatives. We all had fun designing our own "labels" for these! I have also made gloves, socks, and scarves from recycled materials. I feel that the recession and the snow together have been a bit of a leveller for lots of us, and actually this has been a more meaningful Christmas than most. Susan Wilde, Dalwood, Devon

Spending Christmas with family and friends is far more important than any amount of money you spend on gifts. I recently met some friends I haven't seen for 20 years. A fantastic night spent in great company, better than any Christmas present. Malc Davies, Didcot