Christmas on a budget: 6 steps to an cheaper festive season
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 and presents to buy. Before you get into a festive frenzy, we've found seven simple tricks to make savings, to help you enjoy Christmas without feeling the pinch.
Set a Christmas budget - and stick to it
Firstly, decide who you want to buy presents for, and how much you can afford to spend 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 everyone. That also forces people 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.
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 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
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
Try not to shop when you're hungry, as your eyes could be bigger than your stomach!
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, pillowcases 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 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.
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 (if this is within the Government's guidelines at the time). 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 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.