Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Ways to Give You Less Festive Stress ; Children May Have Been Busy Writing Letters to Santa, but the Last Thing They Want to See Is Their Parents Miserable Because of the Cost of Christmas, Says CLAIRE SPREADBURY

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Ways to Give You Less Festive Stress ; Children May Have Been Busy Writing Letters to Santa, but the Last Thing They Want to See Is Their Parents Miserable Because of the Cost of Christmas, Says CLAIRE SPREADBURY

Article excerpt

CHRISTMAS used to be the most magical time of year. In my house, many moons ago, the Izzy Wizzy tree would arrive on December 1, involving a family trip to the woods to find just the right sort of branch.

My mum would set it in plaster of Paris in a nice sturdy plant pot and spray the whole thing silver.

Every night of Advent, before bed, we had to squeeze our eyes shut and whisper 'Izzy Wizzy, let's get busy', which was the Izzy Wizzy fairies' cue to get a present on the tree.

Just something small, all wrapped up and hung off one of the branches.

Then on Christmas Eve, we got to open all 24 presents, which my mother swore was a complete saviour when it came to getting us to bed the night before Christmas Day.

We didn't have a lot of money, though we did always seem to get spoiled at Christmas. But it was more about being spoiled by everything during the whole festive season, rather than massive presents that cost the earth.

Today though, it seems children are worrying about money, rather than whether Santa Claus exists.

Since the recession kicked in and high street and heating prices went up, families have found it tough to cope. Many parents are forced to make cutbacks again this Christmas.

But worryingly, according to a survey by Vouchercodes.co.uk, one in eight children admit they've heard their parents arguing about money. And more than a third of 11 to 16-year-olds regularly worry about how much cash their family has, and avoid asking for Christmas treats because they're concerned about the extra pressure they'll be putting on already stressed mums and dads.

New research reveals the average parents plan to spend up to Pounds 275 on gifts for each of their children. Topping the gift list is a TV, a camera and a personalised football kit.

The study, by World Bicycle Relief UK, also revealed 71% of UK mums said they felt pressure to spend a lot of money, and 28% added that they'd exceeded their initial budget.

Jeremy Todd, chief executive of the parenting charity Family Lives, points out that companies have realised how powerful children are as consumers and many advertising campaigns proactively target children, which can really increase the pressure on mums and dads He says: "Every season, especially Christmas, new toys and gadgets come onto the market and many children and young people want to get their hands on them. …

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