To Black Friday, or Not to Black Friday, that is the question

Nov 15, 2023 | 6 comments


I can’t tell you how tired I am of hearing the words ‘Black Friday’! To me it says ‘buy something, buy something, buy something ……. Please, buy something, anything, please’. I have had endless emails all saying it’s Black Friday, spend some money with us.

black friday

It hardly needs to be said, but I’ll say it anyway. A bargain is not a bargain unless you will use it/need it. The siren song of the marketeers is a masterful thing, creating strong desires and powerful ‘needs’. Advertising agencies are paid astronomical amounts for their wiles because it works. We all like to think we are immune to advertising messages, me included, but, sadly, we’re not.

It is best for everyone, living on a budget or not, to step back from the hoopla and reflect if this thing really will improve your life, or if it is just a created bit of ephemera whose only visible effect is a dent on your credit card / unwanted clutter to later be de-cluttered / gets broken and thrown away in 5 minutes flat.

I used to feel a very strong need to buy everyone something for Christmas. Sweating over the people difficult to buy for, desperate to find them something acceptable, anything to wrap up. But really, what was I doing? It was a self imposed trial. I absolutely love the festive season, the intimacy, the fun, the get togethers, the way everyone is more open to being genial. The most important things in life aren’t things.

Most children, and your own parents, want nothing more than to spend time with you and have fun together. This too can cost a lot of money, but doesn’t have too. There are many ways you can gift time and attention. A special day out, just you and them, one at a time, or maybe with parents, both at once. Home made vouchers for anything you can think of that they would enjoy, a cake a month for a year, a massage, babysitting for tired young parents, a home made afternoon tea with your old mum, breakfast in bed every Sunday for a period. That kind of thing. Personal, loving, kind. Talk with them, smile with them, listen to them.

There will be a lot more of this pressure to buy over the next few weeks as Christmas approaches, lots and lots of pressure to buy the latest ‘must have’, the indispensable toy of the year that you simply must procure, the extensive (and expensive) provisions that shows how much you love your family. Consume, at all costs.

Indulge in the annual spend fest by all means if that’s your thing, I did, for a great many years, and enjoyed every minute. Sometimes I overdid it and had to pay off the credit cards right through to the summer. It’s not worth that. If you’re living on a tight budget, it’s very tempting and very easy to hole the budget below the waterline at this time of year.

If you want to gift, and don’t want to spend a lot, have a little Google, there are thousands of ideas out there for no-cost or low-cost gifting ideas. There are lots in the archives here too. The ThriftyLesley Pinterest boards have lots of ideas too.

There are some ideas from last year on how to eat during the festive week without spending a fortune, roughly £1.30 last year, probably a bit more now.

Or how about Roast pork, roasties, braised red cabbage and roast parsnips for lunch on the 25th. Lots of porky leftovers, mince pies and other festive flavours.

Christmas week meal plan based on roast pork, stilton and mixed fruit




  1. Earl K. Miller

    Taking a mindful step back, as you suggest, is crucial. Asking ourselves “Do I actually need this? Will it truly improve my life?” is a simple but powerful filter that can save us from impulsive purchases and the inevitable clutter/financial regrets that follow.

  2. Lesley

    You’re quite right – goodness knows where I got that from!

  3. Paula Higgleton-Wood

    Hi Lesley, sorry to be pedantic but the county town of Kent is Maidstone, near where I grew up, not Dover. Paula x

  4. Lesley

    Your Thanksgiving sounds lovely. How lovely to spend it with your son in that way. I looked up Drakes Bay and it looked just wonderful. How lucky to live near such a beautiful place.

    The White Cliffs of Dover is the usual phrase, and Dover is the county town of Kent, even though there are lots of white cliffs in Sussex too. One of the local sights is a collection of white cliffs called the Seven Sisters in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

    We have Lands End here in the UK too, a good place to get clothing

  5. Diane Clement

    I am so sorry that this stupid Black Friday and Cyber Monday have migrated over to the UK. I just hate the whole thing, especially when I think about how it is used by the big corporate retailers to get people to behave irrationally and not in their own interest. I agree with you completely and no longer spend big money on gifts. Even if I had the money, I don’t think I would enjoy doing it anymore as it is all so manipulative. Seeing people camping outside stores for days ahead of these “events” and then physically battling each other just makes me feel ashamed for them and for me. My latest cry when I get overwhelmed by the negative aspects of this modern society is “I wanna move to, ah, to, well, NORWAY!!” Gives me psychic relief but is clearly a bit crazy, not to mention impossible. Here’s what I did with all this November nonsense: bought some clothes online from Lands End because each day, for seven days, they offered different types of clothing for 40% off and free shipping. Now I am set for a couple of years. I drove up to San Francisco to spend Thanksgiving with my son (he is 42 and, as yet, unmarried, and I’m 70). We had an inexpensive American Thanksgiving meal and some quality time together. We drove up to Drake’s Bay, a beautiful location where Sir Frances Drake spent time fixing his ship. He named it New Albion for its resemblance to your white cliffs of Sussex (is that right?). That was much better than staying in his flat, slaving over a meal. When we got home, we warmed up a traditional turkey (just the roasted breast), dressing, mashed potato, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie meal but it was all small scale and mostly fixed at my place 250 miles south of SF. You’re the one who has inspired me to do that–look for bargains, cook ahead and freeze, etc. So thanks and let’s try to ignore all the shopping ads and noise and have a happy, relaxing December. P.S. Still enjoying the way you are doing your kitchen. Looks great!

  6. Sue

    It has gone over the top this year hasn’t it. Black Friday seems to be virtually every company’s way of squeezing in an additional pre-Christmas sale. Encouraging people to spend even more money on things they really don’t need.

    I was inundated with emails, texts and all forms of communications by companies desperate for my cash, needless to say they didn’t get it 🙂

    Love the idea of your affordable festive meal plans, they will be so useful for so many people.

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