Broke and it’s Christmas

“I will remind one that it was in fact the Grinch himself who believed that Christmas came in a box.” (

I’m sure I’m not the only one to say, ‘yeah, I’m broke and it’s Christmas.’ Luckily, I’ve been shopping throughout the year so my friends and family aren’t going to go without. But what about me and my partner? We decided not to exchange gifts. But I still want a wonderful Christmas. So I’ve put together some inexpensive Christmas ideas.

“My mum didn’t believe me when I told her I wasn’t doing Christmas this year. She seemed completely unaware that just five minutes previously I’d told her that my boyfriend is thousands of pounds in debt on his credit card. As far as I’m concerned, until he’s paid that off, we’re not in a position to be throwing money at 3-for-2 gift sets in Boots. And we’re not alone in cutting back this year – ONS figures show that households in the UK have been restraining their Christmas spending since 2008.” (

  1. Agree on a price limit for buying gifts
  2. Make Homemade Mistletoe (
  3. Decorate the house with vases filled with chocolates or candy canes in addition to/ or instead of flowers for the holiday instead of buying buckets of Christmas decorations for your house.
  4. Instead of buying a tree, take a massive roll of paper and draw a tree together with decorations, a star, and the works.
  5. Have a tree but no decorations? Decorate the tree with pictures you’ve collected throughout the year.
  6. Need a game idea? Do a Homemade Christmas Eve Scavenger Hunt!
  7. Everyone write down a wish or desire on a piece of paper for the New Year and hang it on the tree to come true.
  8. Make your own apple cider
  9. Read poetry or Christmas stories together
  10. Make a play together: write the script, practice scenes, and perform in the evening in front of the Christmas tree
  11. Invite friends and family to a formal Christmas tea party hosted at your house
  12. Agree on a cookie exchange instead of gifts
  13. Make homemade calendars instead of buying gifts
  14. Make a recipe book instead of buying gifts
  15. Write letters to each other instead of buying gifts
  16. Do a Secret Santa with your family. It’s affordable, fun, and won’t break anyone this Christmas.
  17. Buy plain ornaments and make them your own, decorating them with markers, glitter, and such for gift ideas
  18. Instead of buying a star for the top of the tree? Make one! ([pageGallery]/0/)

“I don’t love Christmas shopping, or the overconsumption, frenzied malls, consumer debt, environmental waste, wasted time wrapping, and over-accumulation of needless stuff that goes with it.” (

          Don’t try to make Christmas ‘perfect.’ Take the pressure off yourself and relax. If you’re worried about the debt after Christmas and can’t afford gifts, the people who love you will understand. If you’re really worried about it, start putting money aside throughout the year for the Christmas season instead of having to come up with all those funds all in a few weeks. I tried to put cash away, but that didn’t work for me. I couldn’t seem to keep it in the Christmas Fund. So I started buying gifts throughout the year for friends and family. By the time December hit, I’d no need to go back to the mall or crowded stores.

Personally, I prefer experiences to gifts. I’d rather see a play Christmas Eve, or roast marshmallows over an open fire. I’d rather head to New York or spend Christmas at Niagara on the Lake (if I’ve had a good income year). This year, with the pressure of gifts taken off, I’m planning on spending time with the people I love. This December is like any other month to my wallet, and I don’t mind that at all. With me and my partner not exchanging gifts, we can focus on other ways to make a wonderful Christmas (which is a lot more joyous than fighting our way through crowds with empty wallets).

“You don’t know me, but I have to tell you that you shouldn’t be here. You should be saving your money. You should be home eating tuna fish. This financial crisis is so far from over. We are just at the end of the beginning. Please, wrap up that steak in a doggy bag and go home.” (


Interview with International Award Winning Author Viga Boland

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Interview with International Award Winning Author Viga Boland By Ellen Schoeman


The International Award Winning novel, No Tears For My Father, is a true story of incest and abuse to a young girl by her biological father. That young girl being the author herself.

Boland’s second novel, Learning to Love Myself, has been published the same way as No Tears For My Father.

“I’ve enjoyed it enough to recently decide to do my second book exactly the same way as I did the first. I self-published using the same Canadian printing company. From the time I gave them the final pdf, to the day the books arrived, was a week. Can’t complain about that. Quality of my books is excellent, as good as anything a traditional publisher would print. However, it goes without saying that what happened after that (spreading the word, selling the books, arranging book talks, signings, and trying to get them into libraries) is a huge job requiring many hours of work. But the rewards are all mine too and that’s very satisfying,” says Boland.

“I’m all for self-publishing if a writer has the financial means to do so. Online sites like CreateSpace & Lightning Source are attracting lots of indie writers and making it both easy and affordable for them to go it alone. There’s also the option of having a good printing service do it all for you in the same way as those sites do i.e you set your book up according to their required formats and away they go. I like that option better than the others as I was able to find an excellent Canadian company who provided super-fast service and delivered the books to my door. I dealt with Canadian in Canadian dollars and kept the money in Canada. And the price was comparable, perhaps even better than my peers are getting with the American companies cited above.

“There’s also sites like Blurb who have a Canadian division that offer a remarkable way to self-publish using their real-time book editor. Price is a bit higher, but again, quality is tops. So there’s more than enough options for those who can afford to self-publish.”


Q What were your reasons for considering indie-publishing?

A “Primarily my age. Being in my late 60’s, I have no time to wait for months for rejection slips from one publisher after another until I finally locate one who gets it. And even if that one comes along on the first submission, how long before the publisher prints the book and gets it to the stores? A year? Two? I could be dead before anyone buys the first copy. So that was the main reason. The second reason for going it alone was my subject: child sexual abuse/incest is such an important subject one would think a publisher would jump at it. But it’s also a touchy, sensitive subject and my reason for writing the book wasn’t for money or fame: it was to get out an important message, quickly, to those who need to hear it: other victims, so they know they are not alone and that we must speak up for ourselves and shatter the silence.

“The biggest disadvantage is the time needed for self-promotion. If we are busy marketing ourselves, we don’t have time to write. And of course, it’ll be much harder and much less likely that our books can become big sellers if we don’t have the $$ needed to promote them. Also, as I’ve found twice now, that despite several edits and not just by me, there are still mistakes in commas, quotation marks, double words or wrong letters. Really annoying!”


Q What would you say would be your biggest struggle to overcome as a writer?

A “Finding enough time to write when I’m in the mood and being able to work without others constantly interrupting me … mainly my husband these days!

“I write only in the mornings, usually 1-2 hours before breakfast, and unfortunately, not every day as is advised, simply because I don’t always have time or I’m just not in the mood or I didn’t sleep well or whatever. But when I am in the mood and get started, sometimes I can’t stop and just want to go on and on. My other commitments generally don’t allow me that luxury. When I’m writing, it’s stylus to iPad (no more pen to paper) and I just let the words come out. This is not the time to edit, re-think, change a word or phrase … just write. Let it flow. Editing might come days later or chapters later. Stopping to edit lets the inner critic grab hold and creativity stops dead.”
Q What are your goals for your writing career?

A “To just keep on doing whatever the muse tells me to for as long as I can see. And that, sadly, won’t be long as I’m slowly going blind. That is heartbreaking. Waited all my life for this time and now I have trouble seeing the screen and cannot hold a pen without cramping. Hence the stylus and ipad!”

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To learn more about Boland’s books, please visit

About the Interviewer


Ellen Schoeman (pen name E. L. Schoeman) is the author of the award winning YA Historical Romance novel, Isabel. All in all, I’m a YA writer. Apart from writing, I love to travel, ride horses, read too many books, and meet interesting people with interesting stories.

Check out my second novel, Vienna, at: