Nights out, presents, extra food and who knows what else, Christmas can really hit you hard in the wallet.
Making the most of the season should always involve some days out, whether you’re a couple looking for some yuletide romance or a family still doe-eyed with Santa. Some of these may be great, but they may also be very expensive - for example, going to see Santa in Lapland could set you back thousands.
Fear not though, because there are options which don’t leave you out of pocket. Read on to discover five ways you can have a Christmas outing without piling on the costs.
Christmas Tree festivals are community-run events that involve decorating a number of Christmas trees. They’re sometimes organised by a church and can be small or large, combining a few Christmas-related practices like carol singing, Christmas stalls and the two things we all want this time of year; mulled wine and mince pies.
They tend to focus on raising money for charity, so whilst it may be free to enter (some may charge or ask for a small donation), you may want to donate old toys or clothing. Head here to find the nearest event to you.
Go for a winter walk
The weather is very unpredictable this time of year, but if you get a crisp and dry day it can be perfect for a winter walk. Wrap up warm, pack a Christmas picnic (more mince pies and mulled wine in a thermos) and combine festive cheer with some fresh air and exercise.
If you’re lucky enough to live near somewhere with a lot of Christmas lights (within your town centre or some particularly creative neighbours), then you could do the same walk at night. Bournemouth’s Christmas Tree Wonderland is a spectacular trail featuring over a 100 trees, and is free.
Watch the Christmas lights being turned on
There really are few things are as festive as Christmas lights. A lot of cities, towns and villages will commemorate them being turned on with a party of sorts which, usually, is free to attend.
Depending on the size of where you live or watch it being delivered, you can get an array of Christmas themed activities and the odd c-list celebrity pushing their upcoming pantomime appearance. It’s usually early evening so perfect timing for, you guessed it, mince pies and mulled wine.
Times will differ by location but it’s usually mid to late November this is done, so get checking quickly to make sure you don’t miss your local one.
Check out your local museum or library
In the lead up to Christmas, plenty of local libraries and museums run special themed events - many of which are free. We had a look around and clocked that the Museum of Liverpool is showcasing a restored forgotten Santa from an old department store, whilst York’s Railway museum will unleash the ‘true power of sprouts’.
Check the noticeboards on your local establishment when you next go by or search on the internet to discover what is going on.
Connect with your inner samaritan
Finally, Christmas is essentially about giving, and that can extend a lot further than just friends and family. Volunteering remains one of the best ways you can embrace the Christmas spirit and there are an abundance of charities that you can help out directly, such as The Trussel Trust (who provide foodbanks) and Crisis (who offer support for the homeless).
As well as that you could incorporate a reverse advent calendar into your Christmas. Instead of opening a door each day for a gift or chocolate, reverse advent calenders build up to 24 items of food, clothing, toys or anything else a charity can benefit from.
You will need odds and sods from around the house you no longer need and/or non-perishable food to do so, but it’s a great way of reminding children that there are others less fortunate around this time of year. Or yourself doing some good with a creative spin on a clearout. Then on a few days before Christmas or even Christmas Eve, you take everything you’ve collated and donate to somewhere that can make use of it.