All those nights out during the festive season don’t need to be expensive, here are our top money-saving tips to keep the cost of Christmas partying down.
Party season is imminent. The festive season is an excuse for family, friends and colleagues to all go out on the town, and New Year’s Eve might feel like a long way off but it’ll be here sooner than you think.
Which means December is going to be expensive. If buying a multitude of gifts wasn’t enough, the added pressure of nights out will put even more strain on your purse strings. But it doesn’t have to be that way, we’ve rounded up a bunch of tips that will help you be kinder on your wallet (and quite possibly your liver) this year.
Pre-drinks (and pre-food)
This isn’t a revolutionary method, but getting together in someone’s house before going out is a surefire way to save money. Buying your booze beforehand is always cheaper than drinking in pubs or bars, and with Christmas around the corner, any leftovers will more than come in handy for parties that you’ll be having. Or spicing up that coffee one dreary Sunday afternoon. You can cut costs even more by swapping any gifts you might normally buy each other for alcohol on the evening which is shared around.
The same works for food too. Cooking beforehand or even getting a takeaway could be cheaper than going out for a meal, and you can still plan to go out afterwards if you don’t gorge yourself too much. All of your party being in the same place will make taxis cheaper as well, even more so if you convince a partner or family member to ferry you all on to your next destination. And if that wasn’t enough, you get to pick the tunes too.
Better yet, stay in
Could that festive party be at home? If a few of you are looking to get together, try a home-cooked dinner or a buffet where everyone can contribute a dish.
You get all the benefits of pre-drinks but for even longer, meaning if you want to have Mariah Carey on loop at 1am you really can (your neighbours’ anger notwithstanding). If you pick someone’s home with a spare room or two you can have a festive sleepover, which means you don’t even need to pay for a taxi as well.
Planning on staying in? Take up these handy tips to cut costs on your energy bills this winter.
Have a designated driver
Christmas is going to be boozy. So if you’ve got plenty of nights out planned, take a night off the ale for one or two and be a designated driver. This saves money on taxi fares for everyone you can fit in your car, but whoever is staying sober also saves extra pennies on drinks - OJ or lime and soda are usually cheaper than that double G&T. Although specific alcohol-free drinks are often the same price (here are some reasons why).
Also worth doing is rotating glasses of water between drinks. You’ll (potentially) drink less, and also avoid dehydration which can contribute to that nasty hangover.
This is a controversial choice that really divides opinion, but instead of splitting bills equally (eg four people pay £25 for a £100 bill) going Dutch means everyone pays for their exact cost of food and drinks. If you’re driving and therefore not drinking alcohol, gave the desert a miss or watched someone order that ridiculous steak with all the trimmings, chances are your meal costs will be significantly less than the average amount. So this could be a way to ensure you don’t (quite literally) foot the bill for others.
Morality on this is a very subjective thing, however, and if it’s not the done thing in your social group suggesting it may open a can of worms. If you do intend to do so it’s a good idea to ask your waiter or waitress if they can separate the bills for you, because it can be a long process for them to do it at the end, and even longer for you and your potentially inebriated companions to do it yourselves.
Hunt for deals
It’s not just retailers that love a sale, pubs and bars are the same. Organise get-togethers to coincide with the cheap curry night at your local, take advantage of two-for-one offers on cocktails at certain venues and look around for deals at restaurants. Savvy businesses will look to capitalise on the extra amounts of people out at this time of year to push things like apps and loyalty cards, so be even savvier and sign up to get better deals for your nights out.
We regularly post food and drink specials in our Bag a Bargain articles in the deals and life hacks section of our blog, so keep an eye out there too.
Buy your tickets in advance
Nights out can offer so much more than just stumbling around bars, and with the extra impetus around festive season more events which have tickets on sale means there are savings to be made. But only if you act quick; the vast majority of events will be more expensive when you pay on the door, if even available (popular events like Bongos Bingo may already be sold out).
Events can work on tier pricing, where the price increases after a set quantity are sold. This means the sooner you buy tickets the cheaper they will be. It’s tricky to get refunds unless an event is cancelled, so be sure you (and any friends) want to go before committing. Buy from a reputable ticket outlet, such as Ticketmaster, See Tickets or Skiddle, and it’s best to use the ticket link that the event promoter directly provides. And be sure to check TickX which is a price comparison site for multiple ticket options. Be wary of secondary outlets like StubHub and Viagogo which have received government attention for their inflated prices as well.
You can try and contact event promoters direct if there’s a lot of you going to ask about discounted entry (try an event’s social media accounts for details). You might wangle a couple of free tickets for large parties by doing this, but be mindful of what clientele the event may want (some events may be wary of large men-only groups). You can also potentially haggle on the door, but the latter will only potentially be successful if the event isn’t busy, so we wouldn’t advise it as a strategy to rely on.
Need help with your present purchases too? Check out our Christmas Shopping: The 2019 Guide.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.