It’s Christmaaaaaaaas!

OK, maybe not quite yet, but the annual competition for the best Christmas advert has begun, Slade is playing at the shopping malls and those all-important lists are starting to be made.

christmas-sparkle-generalYou might think that, as an accountancy firm, we would be a bit ‘Bah Humbug’ about the festive season, but sorry, we love it too much! Our Christmas party planning is well underway, we’ve got a Level Trust event coming up and we’re really excited to be taking part in Dunstable’s Christmas Sparkle on 6th December.

That said, Christmas is a time when many people wind up in debt and the problems that causes are far reaching. With two daughters in tow, we know how easy it can be to get caught up with whatever the latest ‘must have’ is each year. There’s a lot of joy to be gained from giving a much wanted gift but is it worth breaking the bank for?

So, this has got us thinking about what can be done (in business and at home) to make sure we all have a great time without getting into a sticky situation. Here’s our brief guide:

At work

Piggy bankIf you’re planning a staff Christmas party, the cost could be an allowable tax deduction. It has to be open to all employees, held at one location and cost less than £150 per head. Check out the full rules here. The cost of entertaining clients does not, however, have the same exemptions.
When it comes to gifts for staff, HMRC states that, if employees are given a seasonal gift such as a turkey, an ordinary bottle of wine or a box of chocolates, this will be considered an exempt benefit. Different rules apply to gifts for clients which are generally disallowed. Some promotional items can be claimed though so check out the details here before making any decisions.

Our advice is to take a common sense approach. Don’t think a staff trip to Las Vegas or champagne gifts will be tax exempt. Put on a nice party, buy a few treats and let everyone have some fun!

At home

Christmas partyWith a bit of thought, we can all give presents that don’t cost a fortune. But can we actually give a more quirky gift that encourages good money skills? We’ve come up with a few ideas:

For younger kids – It might seem outdated but the traditional piggy bank is a really good way to help young children learn about money and there are many novelty versions available. A digital coin counter offers an alternative or, if you really want to pass on good money skills, why not get them a series of jars labelled up for different purposes – spending, saving, donating etc.

For teenagers – With expensive digital items being on most lists, here’s where the money can really stack up. If your child wants something you can’t afford, avoid the temptation to get into debt and take the opportunity to teach a ‘saving up’ lesson instead. So, get them a voucher as a deposit towards the item along with your guidance on how to earn the rest. You could give them a list of chores they can do for family members, help them to sell unwanted possessions on eBay or buy them a copy of Cindy Pervola’s “How to Get a Job If You Are a Teenager”!

For the grown-ups – Many families make a pact to give small, inexpensive gifts for the grown-ups like toiletries, scarves, gloves, a good book etc. If you want to stick with the money theme, how about a guide like “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. Or get something for the whole family like a money based board game such as Monopoly, Game of Life or Payday.

Whatever you do this Christmas, have a wonderful time and stay money safe.

Happy times ahead!