Before any of my immediate family had kids Christmas was fairly low-key: we'd get together and have a meal and hang out. Maybe a few gifts would be exchanged. There might be a tree, but it's wasn't a big deal.
But things changed after I got married and my daughter was born. We still spent time with family, but there was an extra element now. Firstly, my family is now much bigger, and secondly there are now small children looking up to me.
When my eldest was 18 months old, and more aware of these things, I was suddenly struck by the urge to make Christmas a more magical time.
I bought a Christmas tree, crafted decorations, baked cookies, staged a visit from the Christmas fairies and wrapped a pile of gifts.
She had a great Christmas, but the best part for her - and for my husband and I - was not the presents or the tree or the cookies (although the fairies were a hit), it was the time spent with family.
It was visits to the beach with distant cousins, chats over Christmas cake with relatives visiting for a few days, bonding with aunts and uncles who we don't see often enough, and storytime and games with beloved grandparents.
This Christmas our Christmas tree is a hand-me-down from a good friend who immigrated in March, and it is a daily reminder to take nothing for granted.
As South Africa faces an uncertain future and more and more people talk about immigrating I've been forced to think about exactly how important family is to me.
So this year, these are three things I won't be spending money on:
South Africa's beaches are free, our mountains, parks, dams and rivers are generally open to the public and spending time with friends and family outdoors costs nothing. Throw in a few towels, a couple of cheese sandwiches and a fruit cake, and you're good to go.
The kids will spend hours splashing about and the adults can put their feet up, and catch up.
Ok, maybe just stock up on sunblock.
OTT gifts for babies
That old adage about babies preferring the box to the gift is one hundred percent true.
Handmade or heirloom gifts are wonderful too, so there's no need to spend a fortune on an obnoxiously loud plastic toy that will be abandoned just a few days later.
Save your money: These are the toys most often abandoned right after Christmas
Fancy themed outfits
Christmas pajamas? Adorable on Christmas Eve, unwanted for the rest of the year, and outgrown by next Christmas.
Christmas slogan t-shirts? Same.
A beautiful new outfit to wear on Christmas day is always a welcome treat, but it can also be worn and cherished for the rest of the year.
I'm no Christmas Grinch, I'm just committed to making Christmas a family-focused time of making memories and bonding, so I will splash out on a few things.
These are the things I will spend money on:
The money I save on gifts will go towards getting around, to visiting family and friends in far-flung places, to spending quality time in the sun with people we don't see often enough.
Some of our relatives visit from further afield at this time of the year too, so we'll put in the effort to get to where they're staying, and to visit some of our beautiful tourist spots with them.
A family gift, if there's budget for it, of a professional photoshoot makes for a fun day out, and everyone has lasting memories to frame.
I'm hoping to start 2020 with a new desktop background - my screen filled with smiling kids and happy grandparents to cherish.
In essence, I'll be spending money on what is important to me and my family, and I'll be letting the rest go.
What is important to you?
Where will you be spending your hard earned money this December?
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