Cut the cost of Christmas with this bumper selection of tips to help you make the most of your Christmas budget!
As you might guess, we absolutely love Christmas here at The Christmas Guide. But there’s no getting away from the fact that it can get very expensive very quickly.
So if you’d like to try and keep the cost of Christmas down (and who wouldn’t?), we’ve assembled a whole host of tips to give you a helping hand. We’ve got tips to help you prepare, ways to cut the cost of Christmas presents, and cost cutters for your Christmas food and drink.
Even if you only put a few of these tips into action, it’ll help you to keep your Christmas spending under control. So take a look through our list, and if you have any great Christmas money saving tips, we’d love to hear them!
Planning and Preparing
One of the best ways to make sure that you don’t overspend at Christmas is to make sure you plan properly.
That means making budgets to work out how much you can spend, and using lists and planners to keep track of your spending.
But don’t worry, we’ll be here to help you get organised!
Start planning early
You might not be quite as Christmas-mad as we are here at The Christmas Guide, but don’t leave it til the last minute to plan Christmas.
The sooner you get started, the more likely you are to spot bargains, plus it gives you longer to save up for any big ticket items.
So even though you might not want to start thinking about Christmas while it’s mid-summer, it’s actually a great time to get started on your Christmas planning.
And if you can start earlier, then that’s even better!
Set a realistic budget
It’s easy to feel the temptation to plan a perfect Christmas straight out of the glossy magazines.
But this is the quickest way to burn through your budget and find yourself burned out with stress.
So first work out what you can actually afford to spend on Christmas this year. How many pay-days are there before 25th December, and how much of each month’s money can you put aside for your Christmas budget?
Next you need to plan how much you’re going to spend on Christmas – the gifts, the food and drink, and all of the little extras that are easily forgotten.
If there’s a shortfall between that and how much you can put aside, you need to work out ways to raise some extra money or cut down on your costs.
That might all sound daunting, but don’t worry, we’ll be here with help along the way with some great advice and planners!
Make a list (and check it twice…)
List making is one of your biggest friends when it comes to getting Christmas done on a budget.
So first make a list of all the people you want to buy presents for, and what you’d like to get them. Now you know what you’re shopping for, you can look out for the very best discounts. Remember, a discount is only a saving if you were planning to buy it…
Do the same when it comes to food and drink shopping as well. Plan every item down to the last cranberry, and then you know you won’t go over budget.
List making also has the benefit of ensuring you don’t forget anything as well – the last thing you want is to find you’re missing a vital ingredient on Christmas Day!
Make small cuts for big savings
If you have a shortfall on your Christmas budget but don’t want to trim your Christmas spending, you need to make up the difference somewhere.
A good way is to see if there are any small cuts you can make to your regular spending. For example, if you pick up a coffee on your way to work every day, maybe switch to making coffee at home instead. If you save £2 every working day, that’s an extra tenner every week into your Christmas box.
Sell what you don’t need
Cutting down on your expenditure is one way to raise funds for Christmas, but you could also try to earn more money by selling some of the things you don’t use at home.
You could try Ebay or Facebook – look for local groups on Facebook where you can sell unwanted items quickly and with no fees.
Keep your eyes open for discounts
Keep your eyes open for discounts and deals when you are out shopping or browsing online.
But remember that it’s only a bargain if you would have bought it at the full price. Otherwise it’s just eating into your budget and you’ll have to sacrifice something else from your spending plan.
Websites like MoneySavingExpert are great sources of information on the latest discounts, as well as other ways to raise extra income.
Saving on Presents
It’s natural to feel like you want to splash out on friends and family at Christmas, especially after such a stressful year as we’ve all had in 2020.
But if you want to stick to your Christmas budget, it’s really important to try and rein in your spending on presents.
Here are a few ideas for ways you can reduce the cost of Christmas presents:
Limit present buying
Of course you want to buy for those closest to you: your children, partner, parents or grandparents.
But the list of people that we feel obliged to buy for seems to get longer every Christmas. There’s your circle of friends, extended family, colleagues at work, neighbours…
In a year when finances have been stretched to their limit for many, the best gift you could give might be the removal of that obligation.
If you want to cut the cost of Christmas, it might be worth having a discussion about putting a hold on present giving. It might surprise you how many people are happy to lose the obligation to spend ever increasing amounts at Christmas.
If the idea of not buying presents doesn’t go down well, perhaps you could set a reasonable limit on how much to spend per gift.
Do a Secret Santa with a £5 or £10 limit
This is a great way to cut the Christmas present bill for a circle of friends or colleagues.
All of the names of the people involved are put into a hat, and each person draws out a name. You only buy for the name that you have picked, rather than having to buy for everyone.
Add in a low budget limit, say £5 or £10, and it’s a great way to keep the cost of Christmas down.
Make your own foodie gifts
Everyone loves tucking into some indulgent treats over the Christmas period, so why not make some of your own to give away as presents?
Some recipes can be made well in advance like jams, chutneys and infused drinks. You could make one single gift like a Kilner jar filled with the ingredients for a batch of muffins, or combine them in a gift hamper.
Baking cakes and biscuits to give as gifts can also be a great way to entertain children in the run up to the big day.
We’ll have some great homemade foodie gift ideas here on The Christmas Guide over the coming months.
Make your own gift vouchers
You don’t need to spend a fortune on gifts at Christmas, it’s the thought that counts.
Why not make your own gift vouchers to give to your loved ones, and let your imagination run wild. You could pledge to cook your partner’s favourite meal, babysit for your best friend, or let your kids have a sleepover with their friends.
Buy a combined gift
If you’re planning to buy gifts for several people in a family, you might find that it works out more cost effective to buy a combined gift.
You could fill a hamper with everything they need for a family movie night, give them a basket full of home-made goodies, or buy something gorgeous for the garden.
Try comping for Christmas gifts
Why not try winning your Christmas gifts this year? You can find plenty of competitions to enter on websites such as Loquax, Prize Finder or Competition Database as well as in comping groups on Facebook.
Of course, you aren’t guaranteed to win but it can’t hurt to give it a try!
Find Savings Online
This year more than ever, you’re likely to do a lot of your Christmas shopping online, and luckily that is a great way to stick to your Christmas budget.
But it’s easy to lose track of your spending when you’re clicking around the internet. Sometimes it doesn’t really feel like you’re spending money, does it?
So here are some tips on how to cut costs and make great savings when you’re shopping online for Christmas.
Use comparison sites to find the best bargains
Save yourself time and money when you’re buying Christmas gifts by using comparison sites to find the best deals and cheapest products.
Google Shopping searches a wide range of retailers to find the best prices, including some of the big names in shopping like Amazon, John Lewis and Tesco as well as smaller stores.
Save money on high end perfume
Department stores have a great choice of perfumes and aftershaves, but you could save money by shopping online.
You could save as much as 50% off High Street prices on some products, and they also sell gift sets, scented candles and more.
Find local bargains on Facebook and Ebay
Items for sale on Ebay and Facebook often come with a ‘collection only’ policy. This cuts down the number of people who are interested in buying and removes postage costs, so there are some good bargains to be found.
When you search on Ebay, try setting your search to items within a short distance of your home and work, and see what savings you can find.
Boost your budget with cashback
Cashback sites like Quidco are a great way to add a few extra pounds to your Christmas budget.
You sign up for free membership and then click through to sites when you need to buy something. The comparison site gets paid for referring traffic to the retailer, and some of that is passed on to you.
It’s important to check the terms carefully though, because you may find that your purchase only counts if you haven’t visited the site before. If so, be sure to clear the cache on your PC before you click through to place your order.
Don’t always assume that the site with the best cashback is the best offer though. It’s important to check all the pricing thoroughly if you want to get the best deal.
Snap up a bargain at online outlet stores
A lot of High Street retailers have online outlet stores where you can find some fantastic end-of-line bargains.
Some may be found on eBay (like Argos) and others like Clarks have their own outlet websites. You can also find online outlet villages like Brand Alley, which sell a number of retailers’ products on one site.
They’re a great place to find Christmas presents at cheaper prices.
Don’t lose out on goods from abroad
Online marketplaces like Aliexpress let UK shoppers buy direct from East Asian traders, and there are some fantastic bargains on Christmas gifts and stocking fillers.
But you need to order well in advance, as many orders are shipped by sea and can take up to six weeks to arrive.
And don’t forget to add customs charges onto the price to make sure that you don’t break your budget.
Saving on Food and Drink
Food plays such an important part in a celebration, and a large chunk of your Christmas budget will probably go on food and drink.
But there are plenty of things you can do to stop the cost of Christmas food spiralling out of control.
Try one or more of these tips to keep your Christmas food shopping bill down.
Try to limit food waste
Yes, Christmas is a celebration, but you don’t need to go overboard with the amount of food and drink you buy.
If you’ve hosted Christmas before, you have probably gone through the horrible task of throwing out the leftovers afterwards. Keeping a limit on the amount you buy will help to reduce the amount of waste you send to landfill, as well as reducing the amount you spend on it.
And if you shop carefully you should be able to freeze some of the unused or leftover food to use in January.
Plan a menu for the festive period
The most important thing you can do to reduce the size of your Christmas grocery bill is to plan a menu for the festive period.
Plan what you will cook for the main days: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, plus New Years Eve and New Year’s Eve. The days in between can often be catered with leftovers, with a few lighter meals as a break from all the feasting. And don’t forget the treats and drinks you’ll need, as well as things you may need like foil, matches and paracetamol!
Planning your menu will allow you to write a shopping list and plan your food budget. And then if you stick to this, you’ll be well on track to keeping your Christmas spending under control.
Find deals on wine and fizz online
Buying wine by the case can net you some fantastic festive savings.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on the supermarket sites from early November, as many have excellent pre-Christmas deals.
Buy own label products
It’s easy to be seduced by the Christmas advertising, and think that you have to buy the luxury version of everything from chocolate biscuits to the celebratory fizz.
But quite often the own brand goods are just as good, if not better.
So give some own label products or cheaper alternatives a try and you may be pleasantly surprised. After all, the important thing is sitting down with your loved ones to share a meal, not whether the fizz in your glass is cava or Champagne.
Side note: if possible, it’s worth spending a little extra on some things, like the Christmas turkey. But the savings you make elsewhere should cover that.
Boost your budget with supermarket savings
This is another good reason to start your Christmas planning early!
Supermarket saving schemes encourage you to save for Christmas throughout the year. You can add a little into your account each time you shop, and then you’ll get a payout in voucher form shortly before Christmas.
They’ll even give you a little bonus to boost your Christmas shopping funds!
Take a look at the Asda Christmas savings account as an example.
Other Christmas Savings
We’ve already covered the main parts of your Christmas budget: the presents, food and drink.
There are a few other places where you can make savings to allow you to spend your budget elsewhere.
Book train tickets in advance
Will you be travelling by train to celebrate Christmas with your family, or perhaps buying train tickets for a student to travel home for uni?
If so, it’s a good idea to try and buy your tickets early. They are usually available around 12 weeks before the date of travel and the price is usually lowest soon after they are released.
If you use the Trainline app, it will send you an alert when the price is likely to increase.
Boost your Tesco vouchers for more spending power
If you shop at Tesco, it’s worth checking out their Clubcard boost partners rather than automatically spending them on your Christmas food shopping.
Spending this way can double or triple the value of your Tesco Clubcard points on things like homewares, travel vouchers or restaurant vouchers.
Post early for Christmas
If you’re sending Christmas cards or gifts by post, keep an eye on the last posting dates on the Royal Mail site. The site hasn’t been updated for 2020 yet, but they will be available later this year.
Posting early means you may be able to send your cards 2nd class rather than paying extra for 1st class stamps. You’ll also be able to take advantage of slower, and cheaper, parcel services.
Cut delivery costs online
But don’t assume that Royal Mail is the cheapest way to send your parcel. If it weighs more than 2kg, you may get better rates by using an online parcel courier site.
Try checking sites such as Hermes before you head to the Post Office.
Get Christmas crafty
Get crafty and make your own cards, decorations and wrapping paper to help keep the cost of Christmas down.
It’s also a great way to entertain the kids and get them involved in the Christmas preparations.
There’s lots of inspiration on the Internet and in magazines, and we’ll have ideas here on The Christmas Guide in the coming months.
Prepare early for next Christmas
Hopefully these tips will help you have your best ever Christmas without breaking the budget.
But if you only come across this guide in the last few weeks before Christmas, it’s probably too late to take full advantage of these tips.
So why not make a promise to yourself that next year will be different, with our final tips for saving money on Christmas.
Start saving early to spread the cost
According to the Bank of England, a typical family spends £800 more in December compared to other months. And it’s safe to assume that most of that goes on festive spending!
Rather than putting the extra cost on credit cards and paying off interest, why not start saving a small amount each month from January to pay for Christmas next year?
Even a modest level of savings will help to make next Christmas more affordable.
Grab end-of-sale bargains
You’ll often find wrapping paper, Christmas trees, decorations and cards heavily discounted in January.
So why not pick some up and stash them away ready for next year? Just remember to add them to next year’s Christmas planning file so that you don’t end up buying more later on!