Our top tips for a joy-filled, wallet-friendly Christmas
After the limited get togethers of 2020, this year’s Christmas promises to be a more exciting, sociable time all round. With bigger family meals to cook, more chances to entertain at home, a busier calendar of events to go to and more gifts to buy, it could be easy to get carried away and spend more than you can afford. However much you‘ve got available to spend, there are lots of ways to make your money go further without compromising on the festive cheer.
Here are our top tips for staying within your budget all season long, and having a joy-filled, wallet-friendly Christmas that leads to a financially stable new year.
Make a festive spending plan that covers all areas
Christmas lists aren’t just for Santa – they’re the essential starting point for every successful festive budget. Getting your lists in order early means you’ll be less likely to splurge on last minute panic buys.
First, take a bit of time to work out how much you’ve got to spend in total. From there you can allocate different amounts to food, entertaining, gifts and any other categories you know will crop up, such as decorations, travel costs and panto tickets.
For gift lists, be sure to include the costs of stocking presents and advent calendars. And to really stay on top of the food expenses, it’s a good idea to do a practice shop online for all your groceries for Christmas week, especially if you’re hosting Christmas dinner. Remember to include the drinks, too. Depending on the retailer, you may be able to save the list so all you have to do is checkout nearer the time.
Think outside the box to make seasonal savings
If the outgoings on your lists add up to more than you want to spend, it’s better to work out how to cut costs now, rather than overstretching and feeling the pinch in January and into the year ahead.
- Rethink your Christmas menu – Turkeys are usually the most expensive part of the Christmas dinner. Consider buying a turkey crown instead, which will still feed plenty and comes in at a fraction of the price – even cheaper if you buy it frozen ahead of time. Or if you’re really not a fan, don’t be afraid to pick a different meat or meal altogether.
- Keep it simple and affordable with Secret Santa – Got lots of adults to buy for? Whether it’s extended family or a group of friends or workmates, Secret Santa means you only have to buy one gift, saving time and money. Try the free Elfster app to allocate the names randomly and secretively. Why not set a spending limit to make it fair for everyone?
- Share the load of the party – Want to host a party but worried about the cost? Ask your guests to bring something to share – either snacks or drinks or something for a buffet. Most people will be happy to contribute, and you’ll have less preparation to do as well as less spending.
- Cash in your loyalty extras – many of the supermarket loyalty cards have reward deals that let you put your points towards meals out, cinema tickets and gifts including magazine subscriptions. This is the perfect time of year to put them to good use as gifts.
Get creative with your gift ideas
For many of us, Christmas presents are usually the biggest cost of the season. But a little imagination goes a long way to keeping expenses to a minimum. Here are some of our top ideas for thrifty gifts:
- Time together - Last year the restrictions of the pandemic showed us that being together is the best gift of all. So one of our top low-cost gift ideas is an IOU for an afternoon walk with a hot chocolate stop along the way.
- Print it – we all have countless photos stored away on phones and computers. Pick a special one to either print out and put in a frame, or use a site like Photobox to create a photo mug, or even compile a photo book. Look out for special offers, and you’ll often get a discount on your first order.
- Choose preloved – The preloved industry is bigger and better than ever, with sites like Ebay, Vinted and Haru selling all kinds of clothes and accessories at bargain prices, some of them never worn. For stocking fillers, charity shops are a great place to pick up books, toys, mugs and quirky trinkets.
- Game time – A family game provides hours of fun. We love Avocado Smash and Pictionary Air (a new take on the old game, using a light pen to reveal your drawings on your device).
And that’s a (creative) wrap
One of the essential but often overlooked costs of Christmas is the wrapping supplies. Christmas paper, sticky tape and ribbons can add up so be sure to include them in your festive spending plan.
An effective way to keep the wrapping cost down is to buy a large roll of plain brown paper and use shiny ribbon or glittery tape to add the Christmassy sparkle. As an extra environmentally-kind bonus, the paper can all be recycled too.
Even with lots of money saving tips to follow, Christmas can still be a financial stretch. If you need a little extra and would like to spread out the cost of the season to make it more manageable, our fair affordable loans can help. Alternatively, come January, you could start building your festive funds for next year with our Christmas Saver.