Christmas is the most wonderful time of year, but it can also be very costly, so we have found 7 easy steps to help you save money over the festive period.
There are a LOT of things to spend money on, with more food and drink consumed, presents to buy, decorations and the added expenses of going out more than usual (we’ve rounded up some ways you can save money on the latter).
Before you get into a festive frenzy, we have found seven simple tricks for you to enjoy the celebrations without breaking the bank. We’ve earmarked ways to make savings on everything from gifts to the tree, to help you enjoy Christmas without feeling the pinch.
Set a Christmas budget - and stick to it
Firstly, decide who you need to buy presents for, and how much you can afford to spend at Christmas on everything from gifts to food and drink. This can help you to set a budget to prevent costs from spiralling out of control with impulse purchases and last-minute panic buying.
It's becoming more popular nowadays for extended families to come to mutual agreements regarding presents. This could be not to buy each other presents at all, just to focus on the kids, or to arrange a Secret Santa (more on that below).
This could be a good idea if you want to focus on spoiling your nearest and dearest - however it is best to discuss this before anyone starts their Christmas shopping. As it could be a bit awkward if everyone else has bought presents and you haven’t!
Suggest a family Secret Santa or homemade gifts
Can you keep a secret? One fun option could be to start a family Secret Santa. This works by each person putting their names into a hat, and then taking it in turns to pick one out at random to reveal who their Secret Santa recipient is. The name of the game is to keep it a secret from the person you’ve selected, and part of the fun is trying to guess who bought your gift!
The good thing is that you only need to buy one present and you can all agree on a set budget (and even a theme) beforehand, so that it is fair and affordable for the whole group. That also forces everyone to be a bit more creative, and you can make more effort on one person with fewer people to worry about.
Or, what about homemade Christmas goods? Nothing says Christmas more than the smell of freshly baked mince pies and Christmas cake. Not only do goodies make great gifts, but baking is also a lovely way to get crafty and keep the kids busy over the winter period.
Why not create a hamper for elderly relatives, or decorate gingerbread men for all the family? Need more budget-friendly entertainment inspiration over winter? Check out five Christmas days (and nights) out that are totally FREE
Food and drink: money-saving hacks
Aside from gifts, by far the most enjoyable (and expensive) part of Christmas is the food and drink. Here are our top tips to make savings on supermarket shopping:
- Look into using on supermarket loyalty points to cover part of your shop
- Think about shopping around the supermarkets to find the best deals out there, instead of just sticking to your usual store. You can price check on the internet beforehand so you know which shops are cheapest to save traipsing round them all
- Look into using on supermarket loyalty points to cover part of your shop
- How about potentially swapping to supermarket own brands? As well as being cheaper, some have even been found to be better quality
- Buying fresh fruit and vegetables, or tinned or frozen, could be a cheaper alternative to pre-prepared options
- Consider how many people you are cooking for to minimise both costs and waste. Perhaps you could use a turkey crown instead of cooking a whole turkey, depending on the number of guests?
- Try not to shop when you are hungry, as your eyes could be bigger than your stomach!
We've discussed eco-friendly gifts before, but one way to deliver Christmas on a budget is to make recycling a central tenet of how you approach the festive period. What was once looked down upon as ‘cheap’ is now an essential practice we all need to do to save the planet.
You can upcycle old household items to house gifts, using boxes, tins and jars to keep your presents in to save on wrapping paper. You can bulk buy confectionery for multiple gifts; this kilo bag of chocolate raisins, for example, would easily fill five upcycled jam jars. Add a gold ribbon to each and you've got an artisan looking gift at a fraction of the price.
On the topic of ribbons, old clothes can be cut up into them, pillow cases can become stockings (and washed and returned to their original use afterward), and tins can also become decorative candle holders. For the latter punching holes to create festive shapes (stars, christmas trees etc) is a really quick and easy way to add festive cheer, plus it'll be a lot of fun to make with the kids (and the big ones).
And the gifts themselves can be recycled, especially if they've been barely used since last year. Although probably best not to send them back to the person who bought you them in the first place.
Saving on Christmas decorations
What could be a better way to get into the Christmas mood than sticking on some Christmas music and decorating the tree?
One option could be popping to your local shops to find the latest deals - many supermarkets have great deals on Christmas trees and other decorations. If you would rather have an artificial tree that you can use year in year out and your old one is looking tatty, how about the IKEA Christmas tree which is sold in stores for £29 up until 24th December 2019?
IKEA are also giving away £20 vouchers upon purchase of these trees in store, which can then be used between 13th January and 23rd February on other items in the shop. This could be a good idea if you were already planning on shopping in IKEA after Christmas.
Go on a Festive forage
Although the winter weather can be pretty grim, if you get a dry, crisp sunny day it’s perfect for winter walks (one of our Christmas days out that are totally free). The walks don’t just have to be good for exercise and enjoying the scenery though; you can use the time to go foraging too.
Pine cones, acorns and holly are all core requisites for any Yuletide decorations (here’s a guide to making a great wreath utilising them). Once collected you can spray paint them with gold and/or glitter to pop on the tree or around the house.
You can also find food when you’re out there (here’s the Woodland’s Trust’s guide to foraging for food in November and December). If you do this though be very careful of what you are picking, and if in doubt don’t eat.
Compare offers online - and think twice before purchasing
There are usually loads of budget bargains to be had over the Christmas period with online voucher codes and discounts galore, but it’s always best to consider if you really need these items and if they’re affordable for you.
We suggest that you double-check offers to see if you can find it cheaper elsewhere, for example by using comparison services on Google Shopping. Consider your purchases carefully beforehand, so you don’t end up buying something for the sake of it, just because it's on offer. Otherwise, you may run the risk of overspending and then needing to return the items at a later date.
Still need advice on your present purchases? Check out Christmas Shopping: The 2019 Guide.
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