How to do Christmas on a budget

how to do christmas on a budget

by Stephanie Spencer |
Published on

Whether you’re looking to save some money this Christmas because you’re concerned about the cost of living crisis, or you’re trying to get your savings back on track, there are lots of ways to reduce costs at this time of year without becoming Scrooge.

We all want to give our families a memorable Christmas, with thoughtful gifts, a huge Christmas dinner and plenty of tinsel. But creating a magical Christmas doesn’t mean blowing your savings. Here are 20 tips for keeping the costs down this xmas…

1 Set your budget

Work out what you can afford, and then you can realistically know what you can and can’t do this Christmas. Set your priorities – these will be different for every family, perhaps the Christmas meal is more important to you, or you’d promised a particular gift for the kids this year, or you’d prefer to spend your money on an experience such as a visit to the panto.

2 Get organised

Make a list, get a Christmas planner – then you’re not doubling up on anything, you can keep an eye on finances etc. It really is worth having it all written down so you can check it twice.

3 Sell unwanted items

Pre-Christmas is a great time to have a clear out of your unused stuff (especially having a clear out of the toy box before it gets refilled!) Plus a bit of extra cash in your pocket is a huge bonus, every little helps.

4 Prepare for sales

There are so many sales in the run up to Christmas, aimed at getting people to spend their money on gifts etc. Be a savvy shopper and take note of the price of items on your list, and if there are any sales advertised as coming up, such as Black Friday deals – that way you know you’re getting them at their best price.

5 Look out for gift ‘dupes’

If the kids have asked for something that’s beyond the reach of your budget (which they absolutely have to have) perhaps check online if there’s a similar, almost identical product, available. Lots of brands sell similar versions of particularly popular toys. Lots of beauty buys and fragrances also have ‘dupes’ or ‘smellalikes’.

6 Find second hand bargains

Another money saving option is to look for the pricier gifts second hand! Buying good quality second hand toys and gifts is so easy, and you end up with a quality item that barely look used, for half the price of buying new. They won’t even know the difference.

7 Make homemade gifts

There are so many homemade Christmas gift ideas out there, it’s a great way to give a heartfelt gift without breaking the bank.

8 Agree gift spending limits

Everyone is struggling this year, so setting a price limit within your family or friendship group, or for your secret santa, is a great way to keep spending at a manageable level.

9 Secret Santa

Another way to cut down on the cost of Christmas is to agree to do a secret santa! Everyone puts their name in and is randomly selected a person they have to get a present for. It’s a fun way to gift as no one will know who has who!

10 Family gifts/couple gifts

Rather than buying for individuals, is there anything the whole family would appreciate – Perhaps a voucher for a day out or experience? If you’re buying for couples too, how about doing a joint gift? It’s more cost effective and there are some really thoughtful couples gift ideas that they’ll be sure to appreciate.

11 Just buy for the kids

When families expand more and more, every year the amount of people you have to buy for gets bigger and bigger – so, simplify it and agree just to buy for the kids this year.

12 Ask everyone to pitch in for Christmas dinner

The turkey, the trimmings, the sausages in blankets, it all starts to add up. If you’re hosting this year, ask everyone to bring a side dish to help out, or you could put one person in charge of desserts, one does starters, etc. You’ll all enjoy it even more knowing it was a shared achievement.

13 Buy in bulk

Generally speaking buying in bulk is cheaper than shopping in a traditional supermarket because you aren't paying for excessive packaging. Just ensure you have the space to store it, and that you check the expiry dates.

14 Savvy food shopping

Don’t leave it all until that huge Christmas shop – buy what you can beforehand, and keep an eye out for any discount items you can pop in the freezer.

15 Voucher codes and coupons

Using apps when browsing such as VoucherCodes can save you some serious money when shopping online, even if it’s just removing the cost of delivery. You’ll be surprised what sites you can get coupon deals on, and most of them scan for deals automatically for you too, so no need to go hunting for them. Also make sure you use those supermarket coupons!

16 Don’t send Christmas cards (or cut down your list)

Ok, we don’t want to be accused of turning into complete grinches, but sending Christmas cards gets pricey. Instead, why not send out a festive email? Or, only send out cards to your nearest and dearest – the ones who ‘ahem’ actually send you Christmas cards. You can also save on postage and give your cards to family and friends when you see them.

17 Real vs Fake tree

Whether you absolutely must have a real tree or not, in the long run an artificial tree is cheaper – although they can be expensive for a decent one. If you go artificial, make sure you store it properly to ensure you get the most out of it. If you go for a real tree, keep it looking its best and worth your investment by watering it properly. A good tip is to trim the base before you put it in the stand. Also shop around – you might find a tree cheaper at your local garden centre than at a larger brand homeware store (and it’ll be better quality too).

18 Resist buying new decorations

We all love to get some new decorations for the new Christmas season, but the likelihood is you don’t really need them. So, wait it out and grab giftwrap, Christmas cards, baubles, decorations or even a new plastic tree when the heavy discounts hit in January.

19 Be creative with your decs

The kids will love helping you make some decorations, and there are some great tutorials online and ideas to make your own Christmas tree decorations. You could even make a few decorations to give as gifts!

20 Save on your bills

Simple things like closing curtains to draught proof windows to save money on heating, washing at 30 degrees, turning down your thermostat by one degree and remembering to turn off lights or appliances on standby can save you a lot of money.

Some Christmas-specific energy saving hacks include using LED Christmas lights (which use up to 90 per cent less energy), keeping lid pans on when boiling those Brussel sprouts, and using your oven space efficiently to reduce the amount of time it’s on for. Outside opt for solar displays rather than Christmas lights plugged into the mains.

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