The UTV Podcast: Is the perfect Christmas really a 'commercial driven dream'?

The UTV Podcast explores what the perfect Christmas looks like in a time when financial pressures are at an all-time high

There is a "real challenge for the entire community" to reflect on what the perfect Christmas looks like and whether it should be escalated "into a commercial consumerist dream".

That's the message from Louise Ferguson from The Larder in East Belfast - a community food hub which aims to "give agency back to those who are struggling".

On the latest episode of The UTV Podcast exploring the cost of Christmas, she says a conversation around when "enough is enough" would not only be "good for the planet" but also "the good of us all as a community".

"We can reduce our expectations of Christmas and make it accessible for everybody," Louise added.

Financial pressures have been felt throughout the past year, with inflation now sitting at 10.7% - a slight drop from the eye-watering 11.1% it reached in October.

Head of Money Debt and Quality at Advice NI Sinéad Campbell told the UTV podcast there would typically be an increase in the amount of people "maxing out credit cards" around the Christmas period, but warned that "this year is particularly different as the money isn't there".

"People are using credit for essentials," she explained.

"We have a lot of people who use our service, who are on prepayment meters and they are self disconnecting.

"Heating and eating is such a big discussion at the minute."

You can contact the Advice NI freephone helpline on 0800 915 4604 or send an email to