What does ‘Christmas spirit’ mean? Is it about spending a lot, giving a lot, sharing happiness, or having fun in different ways? It’s really up to you to decide, and no one can tell you it has to be a certain way. But how can you embrace the true spirit of Christmas and still come out good?
Let me tell you two stories.
Think of Nkechi: Picture her in a lively Abuja market under the hot sun. Her stand, where she sells suya, isn’t just a place to buy food; it’s filled with the sounds of sizzling meat, the smell of burning smoke, and the noise of her chopping knife. Christmas is coming, and you can feel the excitement.
Her daughter, Chioma, wants a talking doll from a shop with a glass display, and she can’t take her eyes off it. Ebuka, her playful nephew, wants the latest Super Eagles jersey to show off his football skills.
Nkechi is filled with the joy of the season, but she knows she has to be careful with her money. How can she make her family’s Christmas wishes come true without spending all her savings?
Now think about Emeka: A wannabe tech entrepreneur, but who’s just a savvy hustler for now, on the busy streets of Lagos Island. He sells phone accessories from a small stand under a worn umbrella. His own phone is old and well-used, but it’s still working.
Christmas time makes him think of family gatherings and village celebrations, but he doesn’t have much money to spare for lavish festivities. He has to choose between buying a new phone to help his business or enjoying the holiday with his family and savoring the delicious smell of Mma Chuks’s Christmas stew back in the village. It’s a tough decision for him.
Here’s what Nkechi and Emeka did:
Tip #1 – Be smart with your money:
Nkechi is now an expert at budgeting. She remembers how she’s managed in past Christmases. One year, she turned a gifted Ankara fabric into beautiful dresses for Chioma, and her daughter was so happy. This year, she knows she can find treasures in the market — from using colourful beads, as well as old fabrics to make a doll, to empty cans upcycled into piggy banks, and leftover suya spices to add flavour to her Christmas stew. It is all about finding creative ways to stretch the budget and make Christmas sparkle, while sharing delightful moments where the memories outlive the fun with the ones we cherish.
Emeka, who’s good with technology, uses the internet to compare prices. He looks for used phones, negotiates with others for recycled parts, and even thinks about starting a fundraising campaign online. His entrepreneurial spirit is as bright as the lights on Lagos streets.
Don’t overspend on luxuries. It’s a reminder to be mindful of your spending and prioritise essential needs before indulgences.
Tip #2 – Go on a market adventure:
Nkechi takes Chioma to the market like it’s a treasure hunt. They look for beads, bargain over prices, while bartering for old fabrics and jesting with the shopkeepers. This makes shopping a fun experience they can remember together.
Emeka uses his connections in Lagos to trade phone accessories for cheaper services, like haircuts, and swaps repairs for thrift clothes. He even gets his tech-savvy friends to help with a community Christmas gift drive. Remember, the true spirit of a gift is in the connections you make, the memories you create, and the fun you have together, not just clicking “buy now” on an online shopping site. Also, cut your coat according to your size or the material available.
Tip #3 – Enjoy local Christmas food:
Nkechi’s Christmas meal is a mix of local favourites. She makes yam pepper soup, akara, and roasted plantain. Each dish has a story of friendship from the market, spices she got through trading, and laughter with neighbours. The meal becomes a celebration of community and smart planning.
Emeka turns his Lagos Island stand into a Christmas kitchen. He grills catfish, cooks jollof rice, and makes palm wine cocktails. His neighbours bring sides, along with their interesting stories and songs, creating a joyful atmosphere that’s better than any fancy restaurant meal had alone.
Budgeting should be adapted to personal circumstance and priorities.
What does their story tell you? Christmas comes with the sweet sound of community. For example, Chioma shows off her homemade doll, and Ebuka plays with his repainted football. Both are signs of Nkechi’s cleverness, which even helps the environment. Their shared meal, full of different flavours and laughter, fills them up and warms their hearts.
Emeka, now with a phone he got through barter, connects with his family on mobile over a hot plate of jollof rice. His dreams are powered by the spirit of community and the knowledge that his hustle is more than just a business; it’s a path to a better future.
Fun note: ‘Suya budget isn’t yam market’ means you should not approach a small and indulgent purchase like suya with the same mindset as you would when buying a comparably larger expense like yam, you should plan for it. You have more flexibility and freedom to be spontaneous with the suya budget compared to your yam budget.