The search for the perfect Christmas presents this festive season shouldn't lead to overspending. St Vincent De Paul regional director Clare Van Doorn is urging people to be conservative, saying the cost of living crisis continues to hurt household budgets. Ms Doorn and the Vinnies team are seeing a growing number of calls for assistance as a brutal combination of rising interest rates, high rent costs and an increase in the price of utilities and food takes its toll. "Be very careful around what you are committing to when buying presents," she said. "It's better to sit down and have a conversation about it and make a plan about what you can afford rather than going into debt and being stressed out about it later." Ms Doorn said people across the country spent a huge amount of money at Christmas time each year and some restraint was necessary. This year Finder says Australians are expected to spend $30 billion on the festive season and the average person will spend $1479 on presents, eating out, food, alcohol and travel. "We need to be mindful of what we are spending our money on," Ms Doorn said. "Sometimes the expectations of what we can give as gifts doesn't match the reality ... sometimes we can't afford a gift that costs a certain price. Related: This year's Christmas present wish list "This is a particularly difficult year with the mortgage rates and different interest free loans that a lot of people have and then there is the rising cost of food and utilities and petrol. '"There's a lot of things making it so very tough this year." Ms Doorn said affordable gifts could often be found at op shops and people could also think about upcycling and recycling gifts. "It's a good idea to shop around and have a plan and a budget, and stick to that budget," she said. "After all, it's the thought that counts, not the price of the gift." Related: Christmas gift ideas for everyone Ms Doorn said the festive season was a good time to start thinking about the year ahead and creating a budget for 2024. "All of us need to look at what our budgets are and what is coming in and what is going out," she said.