Christmas is something 1.6 million families will simply not be able to afford, according to a new survey.
A study by Legal and General revealed this many people agreed with pollsters that they "can't afford to buy presents and pay for celebrations this year".
For others, the key issue is to manage their finances and debt well, with 31 per cent planning to spend less on presents and 51 per cent saying they would not increase their spending from last year.
The overall number of households stating they have enough money to pay for Christmas is 67 per cent, which may pose problems for the other third.
And the situation was worst in London and the West Midlands, where this fell to six out of ten.
One finding that may be of particular significance in terms of attitudes to debt and borrowing was the level of credit card use people were prepared to undertake, with 20 per cent saying they would use plastic to fund their spending this year, down from 32 per cent in 2010.
Executive director for savings at the firm Mark Gregory said the reduced spending plans of consumers come as "no surprise" in view of the fact the company's research recently found eight out of ten households have got worse off in the past year.
He described the reduced level of credit card spending as a sign of a "sensible approach" being taken by many, adding: "Perhaps this reflects a more prudent attitude to credit card debt in these straightened times."
Last month, head of consumer finance at lovemoney.com Ed Bowsher predicted consumers will spend less on credit cards this Christmas, having learned the lessons of past overspending.
By James Francis