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Insolvency advice could be the best Christmas gift for households who feel obliged to spend this festive season, but who do not have the money to do so.

The holiday period is generally one of the most expensive, particularly for parents or people with large extended families, and a tradition of exchanging more than just token gifts.

But several pieces of research could have the sleigh bells sounding more like alarm bells for some households this year, for whom insolvency advice may become a necessity before the winter is out.

MoneySuperMarket claim one in five of all consumers will borrow money to afford Christmas, with one in ten planning to put their festive outlay on a credit card.

With some lenders offering 18-month interest-free deals, that leaves these cardholders in the uncomfortable position of potentially not even beginning to pay off this Christmas until next year is already over.

Meanwhile, the Citizens Advice Bureau reports that four in five low-income families are worried about their fuel bill this winter; a fifth find bills a strain anyway, and 6% more are already in debt to their supplier.

For those whose finances have become irrecoverable, insolvency advice could be the wisest next step, helping to write off an impossible situation and work towards a more level footing for the years ahead.