How to have a big Christmas on a smaller budget

Top tips for bringing the festive cheer while spending less this Christmas

With the festive season just around the corner, you may have already started making lists and planning who’s coming for Christmas dinner. Throw in a few extra Christmas get-togethers and the cost of the seasonal celebrations can easily spiral. With energy bills going up and the cost-of-living crisis really starting to bite, many of us will be trying to scale the spending back wherever we can this year. But a cheaper Christmas can be just as joyful and fun, and by not over-stretching yourself financially, you can relax more and enjoy the things that really matter.

Here are some of our top tips for having a cracking Christmas on a smaller budget.

Make a festivity-friendly spending plan

Haven’t worked out your budget? That’s your first place to start. Once you know how much you’ve got to spend on different areas like presents, stocking fillers, food, drinks and going out, you can get on with writing your budget-informed shopping lists with a clear picture of your limits.

A festive budget can show you where you might need to be a bit more creative with your spending, and where some of our other thrifty tips could come in handy.

Pre-loved gifts are easier on your pocket

Whether you prefer to call them second-hand, pre-loved or vintage, buying used rather than brand new can make your money go a lot further. For books, trinkets and stocking fillers, charity shops are ideal, and the money goes to great causes.

Got a little LEGO builder in your life? Ebay has endless amounts of complete sets at excellent prices, often in the original box and with full instructions.

For fashion and accessories, head to Vinted or Haru, where you can pick up stylish pieces and accessories at much more pocket-friendly prices.

Share the joy with Secret Santa

Everyone is feeling the pinch of rising costs this year, and lots of people will be relieved to have less people to buy for. A Secret Santa exchange means you only have to buy one gift for your named person in the group, whether its friends, family or workmates.

Use a secret Santa selector like Elfster to make the selection truly random. You can agree an upper limit to spend, and of course you don’t have to spend the full amount – that's where a pre-loved or homemade gift could come in handy.

Flash sales are your friend!

If you’re reading this before 25th November, you’re in time to plan some Black Friday bargain hunting. For some retailers, this is their biggest sale of the year, with deals available for a few days afterwards and more appearing online on Cyber Monday, which this year is on 28th November.  

If you know you’ve got some bigger purchases to make, it’s worth looking ahead to see what offers will be around across that weekend, and be ready to buy when you see those discounts going live.

Keep an eye out for flash sales at other times too – you never know when retailers might drop their prices to tempt more people to buy.

Sharing (the cost) is caring

If you’re hosting over the festive season, why not ask guests to add to the seasonal spread by bringing part of the meal – either a starter, dessert or something to add to a snacky party buffet. And BYO drinks is a perfectly acceptable, and often expected, addition to an invitation!

Cash in your loyalty points

Supermarket reward schemes can be a treasure trove of discounts and vouchers that can come in very handy come Christmas time. Check your accounts to see how many points you have, and have a thorough look at the offers and rewards available.

As well as using them to bring down your shopping bill, you could use them to pay for cinema trips, tableware, meals out and trips to adventure parks. You may need to convert the rewards at the time you want use them rather than buying actual tickets – in which case you can write a little homemade I-owe-you voucher in a card.

Be prepared for next year

The biggest bargains on Christmas items are to be found after the big day. So, if you’re hosting a get-together beyond Boxing Day, wait until the shops reopen and bag yourself some festive foods at a fraction of full price.

Decorations, wrapping supplies, gift bags, Christmas crackers and pretty much anything Christmas-themed will be on sale after the 25th December, so if you’ve got room to store it and can spare the expense, consider it as a gift to yourself to be prepared with less spending to do next year.

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Posted on
23 November 2022