Who doesn’t like Christmas? Whether it’s dressing the tree, hanging stockings by the fire, or enjoying a copious feast with family, Christmas is synonymous with glee and sharing. However, getting everything ready for the 25th December can often be stressful and most of the time, Christmas shopping doesn’t come cheap. Here are 12 ideas for Christmas that could help you enjoy the festive period without leaving a big dent in your pocket.
Secret Santa: If you have a large family but not the bank account to match, it could be a good idea to do a Secret Santa. You each pull a name out of a hat and buy that person a gift within an agreed budget, meaning you only have to buy one gift for the whole family. Depending on your financial situation the budget could be £10 or £50 each. You may feel uncomfortable suggesting a Secret Santa, but you’d be surprised at how many people are open to the idea since it saves everyone the time and stress of trying to buy presents. It’s also a great way to reduce the amount of unwanted and never-used gifts left lying around the house.
Don’t buy for everybody: Now this isn’t a ‘Bah Humbug’ moment! But you don’t have to buy presents for every family member or friend you have. A good way to save money is to favour your close relatives, like your partner, children, parents, and siblings. You could also agree with other family members to only buy presents for the kids.
Do it yourself: Who said presents must be bought? They can also be made, so if you’re bursting with creativity you could make your own presents. There are so many things you could do without spending a penny. If you have a talent for writing, why not pen a song or a poem for your partner? You could also get a hamper and fill it with delicious homemade treats, such as biscuits or jams. Another alternative would be to offer the gift of time. Spending some quality time with your loved ones could be the best present. If you know a new mum, you could offer her some time to nap (which can be much needed) or give them babysitting vouchers they can redeem whenever they want a night out.
Start buying in the sales as early as possible: If you’re in charge of the Christmas feast, make sure to buy food in advance. For instance, every time you go grocery shopping, pick up a few non-perishable food and drink items for Christmas, but don’t forget where you’ve hidden them when Christmas comes.
Always Shop around! Research! Research! Research! That is key to finding the right present at the right price. Look for items online that could be cheaper than in store. For example, Quidco and TopCashback are great cashback sites as you can sign up for free, buy the things you want online, and get a percentage of your purchase price back. Don’t forget to look out for pre-Christmas sales and free delivery offers – these are great as you can save on petrol, parking costs and if you don’t like shopping, you cut out the busy streets of the town centre, another win!
Budget: Before you go Christmas shopping, draw up a plan. Start by setting a total spending limit. What can you afford? Then, list how many people you want to spoil and write down the maximum amount you’re willing to spend for each person. Similarly, if you’re hosting Christmas dinner, make sure to write a menu before you head to the supermarket, this way you’re less likely to buy too much.
Save £20 a month. Start saving in January and you should have £240 in time for Christmas. If you’re the kind of person who easily forgets to do things, you could set up a direct debit from your current account to your savings account, this way you’ll be building your Christmas nest egg without even realising it.
Sell things you don’t need: For extra cash at Christmas, you could look to declutter and sell items that you no longer need - maybe even unused presents from last year. Selling on sites like eBay, Facebook, or Gumtree can be quick and easy. Just look out if you need to pay any fees for selling on the sites.
Go to someone else’s house for Christmas dinner. If you always spend a fortune on preparing an amazing Christmas dinner for the whole family, it might be time to break with tradition. Have you ever thought about letting someone else have a go? You may enjoy the cooking, but if you are trying to cut back on spending over Christmas, imagine how much you could save if you didn’t need to buy a massive turkey and all the trimmings. Sharing the costs of dinner with others will bring down the overall festive bill significantly.
If you do want to host Christmas dinner at yours, you could invite others to come around on Christmas day with a dish already prepared. Someone could concoct starters, you could do the main, and someone else could bring desert - a bit like a Christmas Come Dine With Me special.
Don’t buy too much. If you can’t afford it don’t buy it. We know Christmas dinner is a tradition in most households. You ‘pig out’ at the table on amazing food, that generally, you would only buy at Christmas, but although pigs in blankets, pate, crackers and cheese may taste amazing, do you really need 20 different kinds of cheese and do you even like sprouts?
Don’t send Christmas cards – Sending a digital Christmas card can not only save a fortune on cards and stamps, but it’ll take less time and be better for the environment. You may need to send a few real cards to old relatives who aren’t digital savvy, but the majority of people on your list would probably be happy enough with an email, text or What’s App message with a pic of the family attached. You could also send a Happy Christmas message or festive-themed photo on social media, or donate to charity, either way, you’ll be saving money and a few trees.
Change bank accounts: If you need an extra boost of cash in time for Christmas, you could consider looking at switching bank accounts. Some companies can pay up to £150 for doing just that. Do your research beforehand and find an account that is suitable for you. You’ll also need to check the dates of when the cashback will be paid.
Whether you love Christmas or you think it’s all marketing hype, we should try to remember the true meaning of Christmas and be grateful for those we love being around us. If we can help each other to save a bit of money too, then that could be a gift that keeps on giving.