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Share with Barclays how you get through the festive season on or in budget and you could win £200 to help...NOW CLOSED

(135 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 22-Nov-13 09:21:46

The team at Barclays say "when it comes to getting honest reviews, we know who to come to. That's why we asked Mumsnetters how they find the Barclays Mobile Banking app. One thing that lots of people mentioned was how easy it is to keep an eye on what's going in and most importantly coming out of their account".

Take a look at one Mumsnetter's story here:



At this time of year, we all know it's more important than ever to know what you're spending. Even if you stretch your typical monthly budget, keeping an eye on how much is going where can help you make January a bit less of a shock when you get there.

With that in mind, and for your chance to win £200 John Lewis vouchers, Barclays would love to hear how you get through this time of year with as little stress as possible on your wallet. Last-minute pressies? Forgotten fancy dress emergencies? House-guests staying a little longer than planned? What are your foolproof ways of making it through the festive season without any nasty shocks to your bank balance in the New Year?

Add your comment(s) below and everyone who does will be entered into a prize draw where one lucky MNer will win a £200 John Lewis voucher. Prize draw 12 December at 12noon.

Thanks and good luck
MNHQ

NB: For Barclays Mobile Banking Terms, conditions & restrictions apply.You must have a Barclays current account and be aged 16 or over to use Barclays Mobile Banking

Maracas2013 Fri 29-Nov-13 13:53:52

I stay stress-free in the run up to Christmas by starting to think of presents well in advance, around October, and purchasing as many as possible by the end of November. I prefer to come up with something that I know they will really appreciate, than worry about whether I've spent enough on them.

MadMonkeys Fri 29-Nov-13 14:44:54

I buy presents in the previous years sales and spread the cost throughout the year. And I don't go overboard with the groceries! You see people with ridiculously full trolleys, full of heaps of alcohol/cakes/crisps etc and we have those things in moderation but there really is no need for everyone to stuff themselves with huge quantities of thesew things! Rant over...

EauRouge Fri 29-Nov-13 14:57:01

I don't get sucked in by all the marketing bullshit. Also I've set the bar low from the very beginning so the DDs don't expect loads of big, expensive presents. I set a budget and stick to it by planning ahead and not being distracted by 'bargains'.

Father Christmas only brings what will fit in the stocking so no being asked for big presents. He also doesn't bring live animals so a pony is definitely out.

RubySparks Fri 29-Nov-13 14:57:35

I have been putting aside money each month specifically for Christmas, I move as much as I can from my current account to a linked savi G's account at the start of the money so I can see easily see what I can afford to spend. We have another savings account for holidays/ big purchases and yet another for long term saving. Separating everything out really helps not to overspend.

GirlWithTheDirtyShirt Fri 29-Nov-13 15:05:36

We're terrible savers so we tend to rely on this like Black Friday sales and other offers to make our money go further.

gretagrape Fri 29-Nov-13 17:09:04

Use nectar points to pay for the big shop before Christmas Day.
People's names and ages of any children we buy for are kept in a diary so we can buy bargains throughout the year and not end up with 6 things for the same person by mistake!
Last year we used pregnancy as an excuse not to buy presents for people, this year we're using our 8mo as the excuse, so we've spent a grand total of £12 on one toy bought in a sale in August.
It's easy to get through without stress and pressure - just don't fall for the hype. That piece of tat made in China is only a "must have" because the shop has told you that and they've got 1000's to get rid of, and the day itself is just a big roast dinner with the family. Simple!

DixieWest Fri 29-Nov-13 18:06:03

Plan plan and plan. I aim to have all my Christmas shopping done by the end of November, and I can pick up any last minute bits in the Black Friday sales - it's worked this year. I like to spend December socialising and enjoying Christmas so it's nice to have the stressy bit out of the way. I thoroughly recommend putting money away throughout the year and using eBay to snap up deals - you can get loads of "new with tags" items on there, I've saved a fortune.

OneUp Fri 29-Nov-13 18:11:45

I try to buy my LO's presents secondhand, she's too little to know any different. I also make presents for family members I think will appreciate them.

lalamumto3 Fri 29-Nov-13 18:26:45

I write a list of all people I need to buy for and write the budget for them by the side, this really helps as you can add it all up before you spend the money and check you can afford before you spend. Then as buy I can try to stick to the budget, in realitity some presents cost a little more and some less.
Present money is in the current account, so no big credit card bills in January as you keep an eye on balance as you go along.
Try to keep food shop sensible by buying from a list, all nice food, but try not to be excessive, hate having to through away food that is past the sell by date.

WaitingForPeterWimsey Fri 29-Nov-13 18:36:38

Trying to avoid buying any seasonal food until Xmas eve when I only buy what I need.

Have bought my presents already throughout the year, all at discounted prices, so no temptation to buy more at full price now.

SuperScrimper Fri 29-Nov-13 18:51:27

I've bought the Christmas food here and there when its on offer since September. Also makes lot like the cake, pudding and even sauasges!

We are very honest with the children about what we can afford so they don't get their hopes up for things that are really not going to happen.

We made things like the door wreath, rather than pay £10 for something you can make for pennies. Same for table decorations.

Finally we have scaled our own expectation down. Actually Christmas doesn't need to look like something from 'Miracle on 34th Street' to still be good. Sometimes you get sucked in to the whole 'perfect' Christmas idea which is near on impossible to achieve and leaves you feeling like a failure! Once you let go you are actually a lot happier.

Steffanoid Fri 29-Nov-13 18:54:49

we try to be organised, plan presents we dont have a strict budget per person, we also try to do home made presents like fudge and alcohol or oils, I make sure to use offers we dont have people rpund but we go to other peoples like parents or in laws and always make sure to take thinhs and be considerate grin

Erm...I only buy what I can afford. It really is that simple. I know how to say, 'No' and have taught my girls that we will all get something nice but we won't all get everything (or even half) of what we want! And we don't buy presents for adult relatives, other than parents.

And we save Nectar points to pay for Christmas dinner, rather than frittering them all year.

Theimpossiblegirl Fri 29-Nov-13 18:57:48

Have realistic expectations. You know what you can afford so make Christmas more about traditions and enjoying family time than a big spend fest if money is tight.

People always buy more food than they need, so shop sensibly and plan ahead.

Agree in advance with friends and family that Christmas is for the children to save money, or run a Secret Santa for the adults.

BeQuicksieorBeDead Fri 29-Nov-13 19:02:17

All good advice on here, thanks!

My top cheap tip is for Christmas nights out, particularly the big works night out. We always go somewhere with a horrendously expensive bar, which makes the night really expensive even if you paid for the meal months previously.

I buy a box of wine, whatever you fancy, and wrap it up like a Christmas present. Loads of ribbons and bows for authenticity. Dont forget to leave the tap exposed at the bottom, extra ribbon to disguise it. Hey presto! You can buy one small glass of wine at the bar and then treat your mates to cheap wine. I wouldn't do this at any other time of year, for example, wrapping up a wine box as a birthday present, because obviously these restaurants need to make a living... But at Christmas in a big cold marquee with my drunk boss dancing to Arctic Monkeys with his tie around his head, I feel justified.

We don't buy for adults, instead this year I am making food hampers, with an xmas cake, chutneys etc. I shop in pound shops and home bargains etc for stocking gifts for the DDs and they are getting roughly £100 spent each on them.

We have already paid for the meat pack, my parents grow potatoes so we will get those free, and then extras like crisps/sweets/drink are all being bought bit by bit so its not a huge expense in dec. Its all paid for with savings from through the year, and then nov and dec pay. No debt because we don't have credit cards etc.

The only way for me to keep on top of it is to start making arrangements for it at the start of the year!

Disorganisedness costs money. And we don't have money so we can't afford to be disorganised!

I buy little pieces here and there as gifts and also decorations. Never just for the sake of it- but if I like it and its a bargain then I like it even more grin

I put a little bit of money away each month as well for things like food and all the extras. I refuse to get into debt every year just to keep up with the joneses.

I don't feel like we miss out on anything at all. We always have a lovely time. It's nice to hibernate for a few days and be family together. It is a lot of stress though to ensure that all bases are covered.

Also BeQuicksieorBeDead-that is hilarious! (And ingenious!)

BeQuicksieorBeDead Fri 29-Nov-13 20:07:18

I am sure they know I am doing it, I am probably not so subtle by the back end of the evening, waving my christmas present around and drinking straight from the tap... But they humour me, and I am sure they would humour other mnetters who take up the challenge!

As an extra tip, if you can't be bothered to wrap your wine box, gift bags are quite useful. Just shove some tinsel in the top so no one can see the Jacobs Creek label. Or the Tesco Silver Bay label, which is more likely with me, particularly at the wrong end of the November pay period!

mrscog Fri 29-Nov-13 21:34:06

I buy wrapping paper/tags etc. in the January sales and then put it in the loft for next year. I also pack away all the Christmas cards I received away with the decorations so when I come to write mine I have an easy reference of who sent them last year so I don't miss anyone I want to send a card to. We also pack away all the Christmas DVD's and books away with the decorations, it makes it all a bit more special and there's no digging around for them.

Money wise - plan plan plan, budget and don't go over budget. I have a rough idea of what I want to spend on each person and an overall total. If you've budgeted £10 but you find the thing you wanted for someone for £5 don't feel you have to 'top up the spend'. Very young children really don't need much, so you can save there, pad out older children's stockings with things they're going to need anyway - a more fun version of the normal bubble bath, character t shirts/vests, pads of paper, paints etc.

I also save up loyalty points for Christmas treats for us. Meal plan for the Christmas season, it's easy to get carried away but then just have way too much, especially if you're eating out/at other people's houses.

Buy some bargain wines and keep them in the rack for impromptu adult presents.

Boaty Fri 29-Nov-13 21:43:41

We only buy the food we need, Christmas Dinner plus usual meals, cheese and biscuits and a box of chocolates. We make a cake. We don't buy anything extra.
We only buy a bottle of wine to have on the day, DH has a small bottle of whisky and I have Baileys we have a drink a day.
We save clubcard points, nectar points, and we do shop and scan. These pay for the presents.
The last few years have been financially tight so I don't spend any more than I can afford.

KnitActually Fri 29-Nov-13 23:19:43

put the money for christmas in a seperate bank account and only spend from that one until 1st January. if it runs out, stay home and watch the telly smile HTH

CrewElla Sat 30-Nov-13 08:19:51

We try to buy little and often to spread out the cost, e.g. Buying stocking stuffers throughout the year when they're on sale. Don't spend what you don't have.

Tee2072 Sat 30-Nov-13 08:30:53

I write a list, set a budget, and stick to both.

I comparison shop all things, from the turkey to the crackers, to get the best value.

I stock up on things like wine when Tesco has their 'buy 6, get 25% off, including sale items' deals.

Same as with toys. I spent a week with the hell that was Smyth's recent toys sale website to get my son all his presents at a very very good deal.

Grown ups get very token gifts and I also make things, i.e. my MIL is getting a handknitted scarf.

VestaCurry Sat 30-Nov-13 10:32:59

I buy the majority of presents, cards, wrapping paper etc in the January sales. The food shop is done on the internet, which means I'm less tempted to overspend. Me and DH buy a token gift for each other rather than giving each other expensive gifts. When the children have finally left home we'll go on a round the world cruise, which we're saving for!

Spirael Sat 30-Nov-13 11:19:26

Lots of planning and spreading the costs. I've been steadily buying in the non perishable food and drink for Christmas and New Year over the past month, since we have lots of people staying with us for the festive season this year so will need a lot in.

While I anticipate food being more expensive this year due to the additional mouths to feed, our petrol bill will drop because we're not travelling all over the country. So that is factored in when reallocating funds to cover everything. I've also been working to make our regular weekly meals slightly cheaper, so that the remainder of our normal food budget can go towards stocking up the extra food.

The main thing is to buy within your means! While it would be nice to spend thousands of pounds treating everyone to all they ever wanted, it's just not sensible or feasible. We spend only what we can afford to spend without borrowing, so some years that might mean more lavish presents while other years our belts are a bit tighter.

It seems to the latter most years, currently!!

I pick up presents all through the year when I see a bargain. I also buy Christmas cards and decs when they are reduced to clear in January and I don't go crazy on the groceries - I really don't need to stockpile while the shops close for a couple of days

MissRee Sat 30-Nov-13 16:30:49

We set a strict budget for how much we're spending on each person and stick to it! We have up doing the buying "as and when" because it started getting ridiculous.

gazzalw Sat 30-Nov-13 16:59:07

Start shopping well in advance of December - August/September is my start-point.

Keep a list of pressies and who they're for - it's very easy to lose track and inadvertently spend more buying a 'forgotten' LO's pressie when in fact you've doubled up!

Be mindful that good deals are always coming along (as evidenced the 28 threads on Christmas Bargains started by Reastie!) so you might actually want to ensure that you have a bank account with sufficient funds to cope with a bit of 'pressie buying over-indulgence' in the lead up to Christmas - what's frustrating is when the good deals are around and you can't afford to buy things...

Buy food and drink as and when you do your weekly shop - you are less likely to notice one or two 'extra's in a weekly shop than trying to buy all the Christmas eating/drinking goodies in one fell-swoop - and prices go up as it gets closer to Christmas too so you are being well-and-truly fleeced.

Always remember that it's often the cheap and cheerful but well-thought thro' pressies that are best-received. Don't think that you have to spend a fortune to give something meaningful!

Stop shopping once you start feeling tired and unfocused - otherwise you will waste money poor decision-making and come home with pressies you subsequently decide are wrong!

MegBusset Sat 30-Nov-13 18:06:29

Get festive food from Aldi rather than Tesco/Sainsbury's. Their prosecco and stollen bites are both lush. Their own-brand spirits are really good value too.

CheeseTMouse Sat 30-Nov-13 19:25:44

I write a list and stick to it. We agree a budget for each present and stick to it, and this year I have been talking to my family about whether we can stop some of the gift buying at all, as I think you sometimes get into a cycle where you buy stuff for the sake of it.

That sounds a bit scrooge like I guess, but I'd rather spend some time with the people I love rather than be given things I don't particularly need.

starrynight19 Sat 30-Nov-13 19:28:04

I always try and start getting presents in September. We don't buy for brothers / sisters who have kids just buy for the children. I also pick up paper / cards etc in January sales.
Food and drink is our biggest expense and every year I say I will save on a supermarket card to put towards it but never have yet.

Charcoalbriquettes Sat 30-Nov-13 19:45:38

Wow, some top budgeting advice here!

I have bought very few bits and pieces up til now, as I have simply not had any spare cash at all.

I would say choose between a summer holiday and a big Christmas... And then rationalise it with the dc!

This year I have got a frozen duck from farm foods, the dc's dad has been asked to Bring the booze, and other relatives pitching up will be asked to make their contribution.

I have warned the dc that their present pile will be small this year, but I am not worried about their reaction. They will appreciate anything they do get!

MikeLitoris Sat 30-Nov-13 19:54:13

Set up a monthly dd for a set amount to save all year.

Before I go shopping I write a list of things I want to buy. Before I go I check the prices online and compare it as I go around the shops.

Start buying non perishable food a bit at a time along side the weekly shop.

MildlyMiserable Sat 30-Nov-13 21:20:22

This year has been an expensive one so Christmas budget is smaller than usual, trying to find memorable presents instead of expensive ones, one example, DS and I are taking Sister and family, so 8 of us in total to a West End show on 27th, Lastminute.com seats, all of us for less than £100!

Rockinhippy Sat 30-Nov-13 21:54:05

With a damn site more difficulty this year thanks to this crappy bank seriously messing up my finances & even though the banking arm agree with the mistake, the mortgage arm STILL haven't refunded the money they effectively stole from my account, they can't even fecking add up!!! angry

serin Sat 30-Nov-13 22:21:17

I save £50 a month in a separate account all year. This gives me £600 which more or less pays for our Christmas.

There are times (like when the car needed two new tyres and an exhaust in the same month) when it has been very tempting to dip in but I have remained committed and have managed to avoid doing so.

We have bought a cheap fake Christmas year this year as I worked out that we have spent in the region of £1000 on Christmas trees in the 19 years we have been together. That amount of money could have paid for our DD's longed for piano that she has wanted for years.

We have agreed with relatives that we will only buy token gifts and at work we have a £5 secret santa.

I only send to cards to the Irish Auntie's who would never speak to me again if I didn't smile no one else seems to mind.

We have also agreed to seek out the free stuff around Christmas time. Last year we went to London to watch the fireworks on NYE but we drove there and back, took snacks and drinks with us and the whole event hardly cost anything.

This year we are going to a carol concert at a Cathedral for free and we are going to Chester Saturnalia event on 19th December which again is free.

We have bought plenty of cheap DVD's to watch together as a family (to avoid the cinema) and I am thinking of redeeming my lovefilm 30 days free voucher for when the kids are off school in Dec.

Oh and Lidl does the most amazing gingerbread anywhere outside of a German Christmas market!

HootyMcOwlface Sun 01-Dec-13 01:43:13

I've got in the habit of saving all year round (even if its not very much) so I have enough put aside to cover the big expenditures like christmas, car insurance, stuff like that.

A couple of years ago I agreed with the family that we wouldn't do gifts as I was in a tight spot financially, and we still had a fantastic time.

I've also started saving loyalty points to use at Christmas, and I receive my credit card cash back in January which helps too.

CheeryCherry Sun 01-Dec-13 08:19:57

I have a Christmas list book where i jot down what I buy people each year, and as I pick things up throughout the year I write it down so I feel organised! I use nectar points and boots points to buy presents, I use Tesco points for the food shop. I also delegate...ask my parents to bring the wine and crackers, my mil to bring the cheese board and breakfast bucks fizz. I take advantage of 3 for 2 offers, and have agreed with neighbours and friends that we'll just buy selection boxes for the children...cheaper and easier, and less stress choosing gifts. I also start seriously shopping in September when there are three pay days to go...online shopping for gifts is much more convenient for me. Ho ho ho!

Fairylea Sun 01-Dec-13 08:55:55

I have a Christmas coin jar... if I have any coins lying around and any pounds left over I put them in there. I use this for buying stocking fillers.

I buy throughout the year. I have learnt the hard way not to leave everything till the last minute!

ladygoingGaga Sun 01-Dec-13 09:11:13

I've just unpacked a few Xmas decorations I found in jan sales last year at fraction of cost, it made my day! So even though it seems ages away when you buy those few things in the sales it is a lovely surprise to find them in December.

I'm obviously tight... I buy decent second hand toys from car boot sales etc, and just wrap them up so kids don't notice.
That is in the summer months too.. I get DVDs and CDs and console games through the year off ebay at a fraction of the cost.

I also make homemade gifts and decorations, our paper chains are my favourite as made with kids but just great.

I also but photo frames through the year in sales, no more than a fiver usually, add an up to date photo of DC's and that is a present sorted for grandparents etc

I also advocate sharing Xmas dinner, I'm doing dinner for 10 this year, everyone is bringing something's so actually the cost for each contributor is minimal.

Sarahplane Sun 01-Dec-13 11:05:32

I have a credit union savings account that takes money from my wages before I get them which has mostly paid for Christmas for the last few years. I went part time at work after having dc2 which meant I had to reduce the amount I paid in so this year we have used the money from that plus we've been having a clear put and sellinglots of things on eBay left the money in the PayPal account until we needed it for Christmas.

We're saving for our house move early next year so really need to be tight on budget this Xmas. We're moving over any savings straight away so then that's that - we've only got what's in our accounts to spend, so that automatically makes us think twice about impulse buys!

We've agreed with family this year not to spend too much so we'll just be buying small gifts, which actually feels nicer and more in the spirit of Christmas. We'll make sure to visit and spend time with each other instead.

We also kept some stuff back for DS from his birthday in Oct (things we'd bought him but then realised he had plenty) so have only had to top up by a few bits - again we're doing small gifts rather than anything big. And we started buying foody treats back in early Oct to spread the cost, so we have pannetone, stollen, biscuits, alcohol already stocked up!

I browse online to try and get the best prices and use cashback sites wherever possible.

bishbashboosh Sun 01-Dec-13 15:59:31

I have an e savings account and put away twenty pounds a week then with the lump son I budget a largish amount for the kids and the rest for everyone else.

She and I spend 50 pounds in each other .

I also buy non perishable good while they're in iffer and put in a family hamper which we get out and stock the cupboards with, no need for a Christmas shop, get veg box and meat delivered from riverford

Job's a good 'un !!!!

Happiestinwellybobs Sun 01-Dec-13 16:05:21

I put money away via work in a Christmas savings scheme. As it goes straight out of my salary I can't get at it until November. I started in August this year - when I see anything on offer I get it.

DH and I have agreed not to buy each other anything this year. I am buying christmas alcohol and frozen items weekly to spread the cost out.

I always keep an emergency box of chocolates in case of a need for an unexpected gift - which I eat if not needed!

pussinwellyboots Sun 01-Dec-13 16:51:31

I try not to feel pressure eg from other parents to buy more than I want to for my children. This for me is the key. I also try to think about what is really important and what isn't eg I don't really notice the difference in taste between chicken and turkey so if there are only a few of us, ill roast a chicken instead which is much cheaper!

I also keep lists of who i've bought for.

This year my adult brothers and I have agreed to make a charity donation instead of presents for one another and our partners otherwise we all end up giving each other overpriced toiletries that we don't really want or need!

freckledleopard Sun 01-Dec-13 17:59:25

I try to save money by using loyalty card offers to buy presents. The Tesco clubcard exchange allows big savings to be made. Also, things like Amazon Black Friday save money.

missorinoco Sun 01-Dec-13 19:36:07

My stress free tips - plan early. Start buying gifts early to stagger the cost. Stock up on biscuits etc that will still be in date early.

I meal planned for the guests visit last time. It was easier than trying to just create a meal for eight from random items in, and much less stressful.

Be realistic about what you will eat, and what people will bring. One year we were eating Xmas biscuits well into January.

Look for the January sales for Xmas tree decorations, wrapping paper and cards. You will save a fortune, and it is a great feeling when you pull down new items that you haven't just had to pay out for.

Me2Me2 Sun 01-Dec-13 20:16:57

I put money aside over the year for Xmas.

I do the food shopping on my own, which is a bit baa humbug but it means we don't get swept away by this or that and buy more food than needed. I always have an eye on special offers and buy in advance if I see a good offer.

I have a set budget for each person and I wait til the sales have started before buying any clothes (so many start before Xmas these days. Or give them a voucher for the sales after Boxing Day so they can get more).

Xmas decorations and wrapping paper from pound shop.

We lay low in Jan if we've overspent

Turnoffthelights Sun 01-Dec-13 20:24:48

This takes a huge amount of organisation but if you can; buy, wrap, write cards etc as early as possible so you can save on postage costs when seeing people you have presents for. We have already received 4 presents (one in October!) and have managed to give 3 early.

Also try to keep in mind that most supermarkets are only actually closed on one or two days over the festive period, there is no need to stock up. If you need an extra box of chocolates, round of mince pies or bottle of wine, chances are you can buy as you need. No need to stockpile as if preparing for Armageddon!

timidviper Sun 01-Dec-13 20:29:27

I think it's actually very simple:
Plan ahead. Write lists for shopping, presents and Christmas cards
Set a budget and stick to it.
Have target dates to get things done by

That's it.
My one big don't is... Don't start too early. I find I buy things then see something better and think I could afford just this little bit extra, so I spend more if I start too early

lovealotbear Sun 01-Dec-13 21:17:22

Always try to budget for Christmas, so for me I always think at my September payday that I have four paydays to save for Christmas. If things go a little wrong then I also have January, but this is good to hit the sales and put away cards, paper, decorations and gift sets that are reduced for the next year.

Also don't overlook budget supermarkets for luxury products. Lidl pannetone and marzipan stollen are divine!

Snoozie101 Sun 01-Dec-13 21:40:41

Swap babysitting with friends rather than fork out for sitters.

mercibucket Sun 01-Dec-13 22:12:08

don't get sucked in by marketing hype. its about people not products.

we buy for the kids n that is it unless we see something perfect for someone

fab food at aldi

use hotukdeals topcashback and martins money saving tips for bargains

check out the bargain threads on mn

Hopezibah Sun 01-Dec-13 22:20:52

presents bought in advance throughout the year (but remember where you hide them to avoid panic at the last minute!). also when I have had little wins of toys and books I have put them aside for xmas pressies for my kids.

for grown-up presents agree a small budget eg £10 to buy something for yourself instead of each other - avoids money being wasted on unwanted toot and you get to choose your own present.

Or agree no presents for grown-ups - just for the kids.

Tikkamasala Sun 01-Dec-13 22:29:49

I tend to use a lot of my loyalty card points, especially Boots and sometimes from the Debenhams beauty card, to buy Christmas presents. Also try to get some cash back on quidco and keep an eye out for deals.

jelliebelly Sun 01-Dec-13 23:09:01

Plan ahead and be prepared. Make a budget plus a contingency for unforseen expenses and stick to it. Compare prices, use loyalty cards, bag those early bargains.

WTFlike Mon 02-Dec-13 04:46:59

Always have posh sausages in the freezer.

DrankSangriaInThePark Mon 02-Dec-13 07:14:04

Never ever no not never buy anything for Christmas without a) visiting Reastie's threads, b) scouring for an extra % code off c) use an app like camelcamel to alert you to lowest prices d) wait until this week for some stuff (wrapping paper if you didn't get it in the sales) as shops will start wanting to move bulky stuff out of the way and will reduce it. d) jump between Quidco and TCB to see who offers the best deal.

basically, do as much online as possible as it will always be cheaper.

I always concentrate on the children, as others have said, and start present buying about August. I keep a wanky spreadsheet, and thus far have saved on RRP about £300. Adults get a thoughtful little something. (But I do not sit making vats of chutney as a) I am not Nigella and b) I would not want a jar of chutney myself no matter how priddy the ribbon round it thank you veh much)

We all desperately need clothes basics, which I will stock up on in the sales, I never look at clothes in the run up to Christmas. Come 26th though and I will be there in M and S with my trolley full of pants.

If poss cook and freeze ahead so you are bulk cooking which will be cheaper.

moomoo1967 Mon 02-Dec-13 08:17:53

the organisation for me starts in the November before Xmas as that is when I start paying into a Xmas club for the following year. Then in January any £2 coins I get go into a different purse to be put towards my December grocery bill. In September I defrost the freezers and try to use any items so that there is more space for me to buy Xmas treats or make them and freeze. I make mince pies, cheese straws, mackerel pate, smoked salmon pate and cookies. Hopefully when I get more time I can start to make my own foodie gifts, I just don't have the time at present. From the end of September onwards I start to buy bits and bobs towards the Xmas food shop and they get put in the cupboard in the lounge. My daughter is under strict instructions not to touch these items smile
No clothing is bought in the month December unless it is discounted until the sales start. Although Gap and Next both have a policy where if you have bought something and it has been reduced upto two weeks later then they refund you the discount.

WowOoo Mon 02-Dec-13 10:53:42

I get all my cards, wrapping paper and tags in the January sales.

I put money away from September onwards.
I also write a budget and try to stick to it - for presents and for food/drinks.

We have told the children not to expect too much and that their wish lists are crazy. Never, ever give your children a Smyths/Argos catalogue!

It's the next few weeks that's the test. I have to tell myself not to overspend and get overdrawn. It's too easy to say 'We all deserve more treats, it's Christmas'.

ksld Mon 02-Dec-13 11:02:05

Going away to family for Christmas helps. We have got stuck with a routine of my parents one year and in laws the next. Both are solvent baby boomers who would be horrified at offers of help with food costs etc as they have much more money than any of us children.

We only buy small presents for adult family and only expect small presents back.

Buy stuff throughout the year when you see a good bargain.

ShatnersBassoon Mon 02-Dec-13 11:07:56

When you've bought everyone's presents, wrap them and put the into a fancy gift bag for each person, taping the top up. This way, you can't be tempted to get 'just one more thing' for anyone or you'll have to damage the bag to get it in there. I have to do this for my niece, or I end up buying every bit of sparkly crap I see blush

CMOTDibbler Mon 02-Dec-13 12:12:26

Mostly, just not going mad tbh. We don't have much family to buy for, don't do presents with friends, and no urge to stuff ourselves for a month.

I save Nectar points for the splurge shop (we all choose our fave treats), and save any vouchers we've won through the year to treat dh and me

clubnail Mon 02-Dec-13 12:15:01

The main thing that has saved us a fortune is agreeing with the adults that we won't be doing presents for adults. We used to spend a fortune just for the sake of it, and it would just be an exchange of the same old rubbish. Chocolates I don't need, perfume I don't wear, a jumper I would rather choose myself.
For children, we buy throughout the year, especially in the sales, when bargains are on. Buy wrapping paper in January.

pickledsiblings Mon 02-Dec-13 12:43:17

I save a good percentage by just shopping around on the internet for the best prices. It takes time but it's worth it!

FattyMcSaggyChops Mon 02-Dec-13 12:47:15

This isn't technically my tip as I read about it a few years ago (on here I'm sure) and have used it for the kids santa list:

Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read

This way they know they aren't getting loads and anything else is a bonus.

Saves the massive stress of how to afford all they've asked for.

unadulterateddad Mon 02-Dec-13 18:38:41

early planning to decide what people are getting and then stick to your list!!

make sure that every person gets one present they want and don't "guilt buy" the latest faddy toy. use cheap stocking fillers to make it look like there are lots of presents.

Arrange to meet people after Christmas and buy everything in the sales, along with wrapping paper, cards and crackers for next year.

Spend the money saved on wine!

WaitingForPeterWimsey Mon 02-Dec-13 18:56:20

Talking, now that is cunning smile

sharond101 Mon 02-Dec-13 21:55:36

Buy as much as possible in advance in sales and special offers. Use up advantage card and tesco points. Buy a nice dress in the SUmmer sales and get children sorted with an outfit hen Sainsbury's do the 25% off.
Christmas dinner courses are split betweem family members so my Mum does the soup and wine, I do main meal, Sister does pudding and crackers. We have chicken as no one likes turkey very much and that works out cheaper. We batch cook beforehand so as less temptation to spend lots on fancy foods over the holidays. Use up leftovers wisely and avoid the Boxing Day Sales unless there is something we really need.

HappySunflower Mon 02-Dec-13 22:46:16

I always have two batch cooked meals in the freezer and oodles of cake making ingredients so can rustle up a decent meal and cake quite easily in the event of unexpected visitors.
I start buying presents in the January sales, and I often buy Christmas cards, crackers and gift wrap when they are cheap. I've always got a present box on the go so never tend to be caught short in the event of an extra gift being needed.

justmuddlingalong Tue 03-Dec-13 01:06:36

I put £20 a week away starting in January. This allows me to buy gifts throughout the year, during sales and special offers.

asuwere Tue 03-Dec-13 09:06:11

I try to be realistic and don't get sucked into the whole commercialism of it all. I also don't compare what my kids are getting to what other people's kids are getting - I've seen many people buying more just to out-do their neighbour/cousin/whatever.
That goes for food too - I don't buy loads of extra food for christmas - it's just a day like every other. I will change my meals for that week so our roast in on Christmas day rather than the sunday (unless it's already on a sunday). The kids still have fun without needing lots spent.
I also use a cashback credit card all year and the cashback gets automatically taken off December's bill - so any extra spending isn't really noticed!

JollySantersSelectionBox Tue 03-Dec-13 11:08:25

This year I have done a lot of Internet research on offers etc and added all the links with prices to the list. So I have a Christmas list comparison site of my own. grin

I use a spreadsheet or an app (No More Socks is great) and make a full list of who I am buying for and a budget column.

Total it up and retrim budget if necessary.

Write the gift ideas in the next column. I find it really easy to loose track of the plan when out shopping in the chaos, so it definitely helps to have it written down. It's also a fun challenge to try and beat the budget where you can!

I have been using click and collect where possible, so that I pick up my gifts without a delivery charge, and it means that I can check the items in the store, for quality, breakages etc and return them immediately if not satisfied without organising or paying for returns. The money is credited back to my account immediately, which saves further admin and hassle and means the cash is available to spend.

iwantavuvezela Tue 03-Dec-13 12:00:16

For me the most importnat thing is that I enjoy doing it. I think about every gift that I am buying and who it is for. I make a day out of shopping, armed with a list, and then I make myself commit to getting a gift. I enjoy buying wrapping paper, and all the bits that go with making the present look lovely as well. I usually shop online from the Amnesty Shop for paper and tags ..... I like to think about the person that will receive it, and that it will make them happy. I dont see it as stressful, I have a budget, and i have to make that work. But i do put it "thinking" time on what someone would like, so it might not cost alot, but they would know that it was for them.

For food, we go to a lovely outdoor market where we pick up fresh produce, we order our ducks from the local butchery, and the local wine shop advised us on wines and champagnes.

I usually order other stuff online (nuts; christmas crakers; mince pies etc)

Apart from present buying, and eating better and drinking nicer wine, we dont realy find we have "nasty shocks". This is more becasue I am aware of what we have and what we need to pay for. My husband and I would also take the "hit" on our presents if we needed money for other stufff, and we are both happy to receive a well chosen book or small item, so that we can afford to buy others gifts.

We are only buying for kids in the family this year as we have two young children and I'm at home with them earning not very much!

I've made presents for parents and used vouchers for others. I also use tesco vouchers to pay for toys when they have their double up offers on.

We eat at MILs on the day and so that really keeps the spending down - I make the desserts and this year they want apple pie and pavlova so I'm using apples from the garden and eggs from the ducks. Very handy!

I don't send cards unless its close family and the kids made them this year - green fingerprint Xmas trees. That saves on postage and cards and I hate writing them anyway!

My mum mades a few Xmas cakes and I ice them for her so we all get one at a fraction of the cost.
Ill make mince pies for after dinner and in case we get guests and freeze some.

Our children get one big main toy each - this year the playmobil police station and happyland fairy tree then some small gifts and stocking fillers. No more than £100 each as they get so many presents from our extended family. We also liaise with parents etc so that nobody buys the same thing or so we can stick to a theme. Works well - aunts buy add ons to the main toy etc and they love knowing what to get.

Maiyakat Tue 03-Dec-13 12:39:46

I do most of my browsing online, then either go into shops knowing exactly what I want having compared prices, or buy via click and collect to avoid postage costs.

Wilkinsons/Home Bargains etc are great for decorations and wrapping paper.

jes73 Tue 03-Dec-13 13:16:33

I write a list and budget for each gift. The children know that Santa can't afford to buy expensive presents for all the children in the world, so they are happy with what they get.

I look for deals and compare and then go out and buy. I also shop online so I don't get taken in by shop displays and deals. I know what I want and get it online.

There is also always one item of clothing for the children so they have something new to wear and its part of their Christmas presents.

Where food is concerned, I don't go overboard as I don't like to waste. I buy enough and a variety but not too much so that half is thrown away.

KateOxford Tue 03-Dec-13 15:20:34

I save up all of my loyalty points; Boots, Sainsburys and Tesco for Christmas time. Even if I can't buy presents with them I use them for my regular shopping which means I have more money for presents. I've also just got a barclaycard reward card so I plan to save those rewards for next year since I've finished this years shopping.

KateOxford Tue 03-Dec-13 15:22:41

I save up all of my loyalty points; Boots, Sainsburys and Tesco for Christmas time. Even if I can't buy presents with them I use them for my regular shopping which means I have more money for presents. I've also just got a barclaycard reward card so I plan to save those rewards for next year since I've finished this years shopping.

Punkatheart Tue 03-Dec-13 18:18:18

Thinking of things in advance is a very big part of things. But so is avoiding buying stuff just because it is tradition. One year I also challenged myself to buy from charity shops and I made up baskets of antique glasses or cups and saucers - with teas, chocolate etc

Thatsinteresting Tue 03-Dec-13 22:17:18

Know what you want and buy when it's on offer. By the end of November I've got all my presents and mostvon my non-perishables.

If you're having a group of people round ask them all to bring dish/bottle/prize for children's party game. It spreads the workload and cost.

jollytummywobbles Wed 04-Dec-13 13:15:32

I buy a lot of my presents in m&s, and have a store card that I pay £10 a month on to, so the balance is already there when I need to start shopping.

OhYouMerryLittleKitten Wed 04-Dec-13 13:19:07

I save my loyalty points for the food and when there are bogof offers, the 'spare' item goes in the Christmas pile.
Some of my gifts are homemade.
The most important thing I guess is to not go bonkers over it all. Presents are nice, but being with people is more important.

OhYouMerryLittleKitten Wed 04-Dec-13 13:22:17

Its a bit sad to see people suggesting always buy online as its cheaper as this is why our high streets are failing. Small businesses may not always be able to have the same prices as online, but they can offer you superb customer service and you are supporting your local community.

I guess I'm trying to make my motto as: Buy less, but buy local.

Katnisscupcake Wed 04-Dec-13 13:33:03

We have a savings account set up separately and when our monthly pay goes into our joint account, a £50 standing order goes into our Christmas Savings. In addition we add the two months of Council Tax that we don't pay (as it's split over 10 months) into that.

Also, through work, we transfer £250 a month onto an ASDA card. £50 a week is spent on shopping and then whatever is left over at the end of the year is used for Christmas (usually around £250). So presents and food are all covered.

For 2014 I've changed to £200 a month for ASDA, £100 a month for Sainsburys, £10 a month for M&S and £10 a month for Love2Shop which means birthdays and Christmas will be covered and hopefully after a couple of months we'll be used to those amounts not being in the bank and will adjust our spending accordingly so we don't notice it's gone.

DinoSnores Wed 04-Dec-13 21:06:51

When it comes to dinner, it really is just a big roast dinner so there is a lot that I have normally or buy gradually in advance or when it is on special offer.

I agree with kitten. People are more important than presents, so I love receiving a handmade gift and try to make lots myself.

I don't like all the stressful focus on Christmas Day. I just want it to be a nice day with our family full of games and being together, so there aren't really nasty shocks.

Tyranasaurus Thu 05-Dec-13 07:02:22

Not going overboard with the Christmas shopping. Agreeing kids only for presents. Not buying in loads of food 'for Christmas' just getting extra for Xmas day.

NotAFeminist Thu 05-Dec-13 11:50:53

I think the biggest way to stay within budget, is to not go too crazy!! It's just one day of the year, after all. And anything you don't buy for Christmas, there's always birthdays/anniversaries/random days to give gifts, right?!

I write a list and compare prices online and avoid the shops because it is way too stressful shopping in the city in December with a toddler and a pushchair!!! So for stress related reasons, I'd say shop before December. But if you want the special deals etc, obviously the closer to Christmas you shop, the better, right? 'Til everywhere runs out of stock, of course!!

We have a buffet that lasts from Christmas Eve until new years day that we top up and so when food shopping, I look for all the 3 for 2/bogof etc deals to help with that.

It also helps to estrange yourself from your crappy family and have friends that live around the world so you don't have to buy presents for a million people/cook for a million people! THAT ought to keep you within budget!!! ;)

juebloggs Thu 05-Dec-13 15:52:13

Now the DD's are older they have cash to blow in the Boxing Day sales.
Buy things like Xmas crackers as close to Xmas as possible as you can be sure they'll be reduced by the 23rd, and they all contain the same tat!
Shop online for everything else - much easier to compare prices and stick to your list!
Use Nectar points to pay for the wine fgrin

LornaGoon Thu 05-Dec-13 20:41:58

I've saved all the Nectar and Boots points over the last year and done the Morrisons £40 off your Christmas shop thing as well, and started collecting for the DCs stockings in October to spread the cost out a bit. We've told some extended family and friends we're only buying for children this year, not adults, which has reduced costs and stress of thinking of something for someone you hardly know!

Also, to help DP on his budgeting way for his predictable mad dash for presents on Christmas eve, I will be giving him a very precise list of what might be suitable for me.

HannahLI Fri 06-Dec-13 12:08:44

Usually I try and buy throughout the year to try and minimise the stress in December. But this year has gone a little awry so I try and write a list of what I would like to get and then I search for it looking for the best offers over a number of weeks to get the best price. I adapt what we already have costume wise and just make it work being creative! For last minute buys that I have forgotten about I tend to use amazon.co.uk as I am a prime subscriber which then delivers the following day straight to the person making it look like I remembered!
For keeping costs down for Christmas Lunch we try and spread it out across a few of us in the family - sharing out both the cooking and the cost.

HALA Fri 06-Dec-13 14:51:38

I try to stock up on presents in the sales, and to do the food shopping over the weeks ahead so it does not become too stressful. I also buy all the stocking fillers either in sales or 3 for 2 offers.

serendipity1980 Fri 06-Dec-13 15:16:51

I always start buying presents early and spread the cost from Oct-Dec. I We have a budget for each person which works well, and we don't spend lots and lots on DC. It is hard though, little cooking extras can really push the food bill up. I do try to shop for special offers but make sure I compare them to ensure they really are a good deal!

BigFairy Fri 06-Dec-13 17:04:06

I try to get as much as possible reduced. So cards and gift wrap in January sales for the following year, presents as and when I see them throughout the year. We have an artifical tree which works out very cheap when I consider how many years it's done so far. I always make my cake and am going to try making mince pies this year. Also, being organised so having cards and presents ready for when you see people to save on postage. My sister and I often lend each other dresses and accessories to save on party outfits.

nemno Fri 06-Dec-13 18:41:51

I make use of special offers throughout the year; from Christmas decorations in January to reduced turkey on 24th Dec.

JollySparklyGiant Fri 06-Dec-13 19:20:06

The same as we do the rest of the year : we don't spend more than we have.

Christmas usually costs us less than our spend during our summer holiday and definitely costs less than filling our oil tank!

OrnamentalAsAnything Fri 06-Dec-13 19:22:16

I always save up my loyalty points throughout the year (supermarkets, Boots etc) and then spend them in December, just makes December that much cheaper.

I shop in the sales well in advance of anything coming up, so I am prepared, and not doing last-minute panic-buying of overpriced unnecessary rubbish. Plus we only buy for DS now, and a small token gift or two for each other, and this has really cut costs. Felt pointless exchanging gifts with adults who can buy what they want. Less stress all round.

Lists. Lists are your friends!

Bubbles85 Fri 06-Dec-13 19:46:13

I've found that the only way to keep to a budget over Christmas is to plan in advance and buy presents throughout the year when they are on offer. There is no shame in waiting for the January sales if you have something big to buy rather than spending a fortune just to have t a few days earlier.

WaxyDaisy Fri 06-Dec-13 21:04:59

We have a spreadsheet, with a budget per person. With a large family I'd say it's essential.

nicki1978 Fri 06-Dec-13 22:08:56

When we had our DS started nursery, we realised how little money we had left after paying mortgage, nursery fees, household bills then we needed a new car (not brand new but new to us as our nearly 15 yr old car was on its last legs - the last 2 MOT's cost us nearly £1k!).

We have a quite a few family members between us so took the decision that as they are now all adults with children of our own that the adults would get a "token" present. So we take a natural photo of our DS frame it in a clip frame and wrap that up with a little fun gift (last year we gave Willy Wonker chocolate bars). This year we are planning on doing another natural photo A5 size or maybe two small ones, then give our DS (now 2.5 yrs) some sheets of A5 coloured paper and let him draw a picture for everyone.

M0naLisa Fri 06-Dec-13 22:18:24

Living on a budget we try to start early and we make sure our children have their presents first, then well do some family members then if we have enough we (me and dh) get each other a little something to open on Christmas Day

Dolallytats Sat 07-Dec-13 07:44:56

I start present shopping early. I pick things up when I see them and rarely buy things that are not on sale/discounted. Due to a change in circumstances this year I have halved what I spend on everyone.

I start picking up food items in the weekly shop around Sept time. Putting an extra item or 2 in my basket is barely noticable and means we don't have a really expensive shop nearer Christmas.

Next year I shall be putting money away weekly (might set up a specific account and and DD so that I don't forget!!).

livingzuid Sat 07-Dec-13 08:29:31

We don't buy presents unless it's for kids. But adults don't get anything. We also make sure we put Christmas decorations back neatly every year so we can reuse them on the tree!

I always look out for special offers in shops and supermarkets months in advance on goods that will last that long - boxes of chocolate, tins, etc. Also we shop at local suppliers and markets as much as possible for fresh produce as it tends to be cheaper. Pre-ordering also works out cheaper too such as for meat.

Cherryjellybean Sat 07-Dec-13 09:05:59

Buy presents when you see them on offer throughout the year.
Don't allow yourself to buy 'small extra things' for people. This is the first year I have managed not to smile
Have a maximum that you will spend per person.
Being organised helps, knowing when you are having guests and meal planning for it, etc.
We made the mistake of needing to mot and tax the car in December... not a great idea, don't do that :D

Snog Sat 07-Dec-13 10:23:38

I made a big batch of cookie mix in jars with dd and these are my reserve prezzies to dosh out when the festive spirit takes me!
I find that Feb and March are natural catch up months if I do overspend because there are no payments for council tax or water in those months. This year we should be fine as I have fallen out with my mum and my extended family are on her side which at least has the upside that I don't need to buy them gifts! So a good falling out if you are thinking about it anyway should help you stay on track fwink

PenguinSalute Sat 07-Dec-13 14:17:46

DP and I limit who we buy for, so no presents for adult siblings and just something small for both sets of parents- often something homemade by DS. I'm also trying to be much more organised and had nearly finished my shopping by December- starting in September has made it much more manageable. I also use the HDUK app and follow the bargain threads on here for gifts, and don't feel pressure to buy more just because I've found a bargain. We spend Xmas at my mums and keep food costs down by splitting responsibility between the family- we are doing puddings this year.

CaptainSinker Sun 08-Dec-13 10:14:22

We set a budget and stick to it. Don't spend too much on wee ones who don't care what they get. On tight years DP and I don't get each other anything. I know that sounds miserable but it is better than being in debt and we get presents from others anyway. Make chutney, sweets and biscuits and use these to bulk out gifts. Don't go on my work night out as I don't drink and have long commute and don't need to spend £45 hanging about with colleagues. We have a lunch in the office as well anyway. Hand deliver local cards rather than paying for lots of stamps. Don't buy new decorations - we like the ones we have already.

2 years ago when DD was a baby, I was on mat leave and DP was unemployed we did everything for Christmas for £100, including presents for extended family.

LauraTrashley Sun 08-Dec-13 12:09:47

I buy gifts throughout the year but I still make sure it's something the person will appreciate. There's no point buying lots of 'bargains' if I just end up with a pile of tat and no idea who to give it to!

In January I put a set amount of money in an envelope, I tend to hibernate then so am not tempted to waste money in the sales, hence having a bit of spare cash. Then each following month a smaller set amount of money goes into the envelope, if I'm having a flush month extra might go in.

By the end of August I have enough saved to pay for Christmas and I start to ramp up the shopping. By November it's all done smile apart from the fresh food.

It may sound over the top to start planning twelve months in advance every year but I disagree that Christmas is 'just one day', for me it's the build up to it as well. I can enjoy the festive atmosphere knowing I'm not getting into debt to pay for it all.

MrsClauswearsspanx Sun 08-Dec-13 16:01:54

This year we put £5 a week aside every week until October. We put that into my Barclays saving account, actually!

I'm not adverse to buying used "good condition" Dvds and books on Amazon. I bought my DS a dvd he badly wants for 42p on there.

I regularly lurk and occasionally post on the Christmas Bargains thread here.

I also collect Boots points, Nectar points, Co-op card money, and Tesco clubcard points alllll year. Usually this means my and my DPs pressies are free!

FutureMum Sun 08-Dec-13 20:19:09

I plan present buying in advance (at the previous year's sales) and buy stuff that I know friends and families will like when it's half price. I keep it in a chest of drawers and I open this and look in the run up to Christmas. Any presents that I do wrap for Christmas, I write them in a list, so when I end up going to be stocking fillers etc I can carry the list with me. I then remember what I have bought and don't end up buying too much or panic buying. Also any unwanted Christmas presents I can recycle as presents for other friends and family throughout the next year. Works every time to keep your costs down!

sealight123 Sun 08-Dec-13 21:09:54

I try to buy everything over the year rather than all at once in December or I majorly stress out lol

Me and my partner don't buy each other gifts, unless they are joke/very very small, we focus the presents on my daughter, our parents and our sisters, as at the end of the day, christmas is all about family!

We stock up on deals when we can and put them away in the christmas cupboard, we shop around for the best prices and I do a lot of homemade gifts for that personalised touch.

I also enter competitions, it is never a sure thing and to be honest can be rare, but when you do win, it's something towards christmas...and it's rather exciting too smile

THECliffRichardSucksEggsinHell Mon 09-Dec-13 13:06:38

I always buy a few boxes of chocolates because you can guarantee there will be one person you have missed out.

On a budget-note, well here are my tips:

I scour ebay and for sale groups on Facebook for good second-hand gifts. For instance this year I got a DeLonghi coffee machine still boxed for dh for £15 and a brand new jumper for him for a fiver.

Making your own little chocolates and sweets are fun to do and don't cost much either.

I save points on supermarket loyalty cards all year and then spend them at Christmas.

I am also guilty of saving unwanted gifts from last year and using them as gifts for others.

Make a list - lists are handy so you know exactly what you are buying each person. Then do your research to get that gift as cheap as possible.

If you have a Christmas budget then stick to it. January's a bad enough month without starting it in debt.

If you save money on a gift don't be tempted to buy another gift just to bring it up to budget.

Homemade gifts really are better than some tat you might pick up which won't be appreciated. Bake a Yuletide log or make your own flavoured vodka with real fruit.

Local hampers are also good. You can buy your own boxes or baskets and fill it up with local produce from the farmer's market. Finish it off with some ribbon and you've got a lovely hamper for less than half the price it would have cost.

nobalance Mon 09-Dec-13 13:24:09

Simply try not to go crazy. No vast mountains of presents or food, just a few nice treats. Its very easy to be led to believe you need to keep spending unnecessarily!

Geniene Mon 09-Dec-13 14:39:33

I plan early then buy things as early as Aug/Sept, I also start with the little things as these are presents which usually end up being expensive if you panic buy in December.
If I'm buying a childs birthday party present early in the year and they have deals on I tend to buy something for one of my children to stash away for Christmas while I'm there.
I write lists too, lists everywhere, what to buy for who and rough costs.
This helps keep a check on what I'm spending.
But then it's fun to go a bit crazy mid December, nothing better than leaving a shop with lots of lovely full bags smile

Lotty8 Mon 09-Dec-13 15:45:30

As with many things in my life, sticking to a Christmas budget is all about LISTS!!!

Present ideas and budget per person which is updated each time things are bought!
The same for food and treats for us which are bought over time.

We've put together hampers for some of our presents this year - loads cheaper than buying them premade and you can make your own of some stuff smile

janeyh31 Mon 09-Dec-13 20:47:02

I have been using tesco clubcard points saved throughout the year to buy presents & food which help stretch the budget further. I also try to buy a few bits for presents throughout the year and put them away. I have also been buying the odd extra food/ drink item and putting it away. It all helps :0)

Turnipvontrapp Mon 09-Dec-13 22:33:10

Don't buy ridiculous amounts of food - its only 1 day!

Buy online, usually cheaper.

Don't send cards.

cheshirekat1 Tue 10-Dec-13 12:39:55

Like many above, I don't go mad and get sucked by marketing and sales/deals which aren't necessarily the best deal. I shop about for things and set budgets for presents and stick to it. One thing that really helps is that we have limited who we buy for so not frittering £5-10 here and there easily... I'm also trying to hand deliver as many cards as possible! It all adds up!

CaramelisedOnion Tue 10-Dec-13 17:50:41

I buy little by little starting in late October/early November and try to maximize the use of coupons, offers and deals. I scrabble together extra money wherever I can selling stuff on eBay, life modelling and every day I check gumtree for one off jobs. I also put away a little bit of money throughout the year. It's a struggle but somehow I manage! I do not take out loans or credit cards though as I am very afraid of debt.

mindingalongtime Tue 10-Dec-13 17:56:09

We go away, 20 Dec - 5th Jan, so no presents for each other, all the offspring are adults so they get cheques as they live abroad. We have a fab time and save a lot of money!

DoctorGilbertson Tue 10-Dec-13 20:22:36

One nice thing for Christmas this year is that I got our plastic tree from last year out of the box where it has been living all year and we had a nice festive time at the start of advent putting up the tree at no cost.

Also, if you don't mind religion churches often do really lovely (and free or very cheap) Christmas craft activities for kids.

DoctorGilbertson Tue 10-Dec-13 20:23:37

ooooh, I've got another one. Save your kids "art" from during the year and then give it to relatives as gifts.

LegoCaltrops Tue 10-Dec-13 20:45:09

I switched to Barclays nearly a year ago & love the app! I find it a massive help to be able to check my bank balance at any time, pay bills & see what's come in & gone out.

We generally try & keep to one small present each for the adults, & spend more on the children in the family. Homemade gifts alongside a bought gift are also good, eg I usually make a big batch of fudge, some pickles/preserves, & maybe knit a hat/scarf/mittens in an indulgent wool , although that may be the main present, depending how expensive the wool was. It's still cheaper & nicer than anything I could afford to buy.

I save loyalty points, vouchers etc to spend on Christmas/birthday presents. Thankfully DD is too young for a stocking this year, but I think next year I'll have to start shopping for stocking fillers early so I don't run out of funds.

I make the Christmas cake, mince pies etc. We buy a joint of meat ahead of time when we can get it on offer, & freeze it.

We start our Christmas present shopping early, to spread the cost. The downside of this is that it's easy to forget what you've got, & overspend - so I keep a list of what I intend to buy & what I've bought, & how much I've spent. I find it's helpful to have it down on paper so I can see how much I've already spent, it helps to curb the urge to buy 'just one more thing'.

TheDayOfMyDoctor Wed 11-Dec-13 13:01:44

It's all about the planning and being organised for me.

I start putting money away for Christmas straight after our summer holiday and start tracking amazon prices on camel camel camel and keep an eye out for special offers, sales etc. I always start shopping early and try and get most things bought by the end of November.

I accumulate nectar points all year round to cover the christmas shop, credit card loyalty points are converted to amazon vouchers once a year and I always try and use top cashback and then cash it once a year (can also convert to amazon vouchers or m&s).

Make and freeze as much as possible in advance.

I usually buy extra shower gel, toothpaste etc in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The shops might only be closed for one day, but I don't want to have to make a trip to the supermarket because I've run out of some essentials.

Always buy extra bottles of prosecco (when on offer) and chocolates - you always need something for someone you didn't realise you were going to see over Christmas.

My lifesaver is my Christmas notebook - I keep my Christmas card list there, note any presents as they're bought (and can refer back to last year) and save menus, recipes etc in it which I can refer to each year.

I try and get wrapping done and cards written early in December.

That said, I always have a few last minute things to do - but it adds to the festive fun!

momb Wed 11-Dec-13 15:20:54

Everything is budgetted all year. Christmas is no different. I decide how much we shall spend on food, presents entertaning, entertainments and then go ahead and buy the advanced stuff: presents, christmas dinner, the unavoidables (school raffle etc ) and then we book in our guests and visits.
We are under budget again this year (though my budget has been higher this year than for the last 2). Last year I had a really small budget but used the same principles and everyone had a lovely time.
I have no qualms about buying second hand gifts for children/partners and for doing home made for those outside the immediate family.

rachel19784 Wed 11-Dec-13 20:31:50

I try to avoid shopping with the children in tow whenever possible so do most of my christmas shopping whilst they are at school.
I shop online although I do love the fun and thrill of shopping in stores when you can touch, feel, try the product.
Make lists of what jobs, gifts you need to buy and take it one day at a time otherwise panic sets in and nothing gets done.If you feel like you are going to have a moment of madness, go for a quick walk, grab some fresh air or have a soak in the bath and turn the pessure of christmas off just for half an hour.

450fromPaddington Thu 12-Dec-13 07:22:41

Online shopping when you have young children is invaluable. Spreading your present buying over a few months makes December less hectic. Only do what you have the time to do in terms of preparation for Christmas, it's not a competition!

BlackeyedShepherdswatchsheep Thu 12-Dec-13 22:48:06

I buy toys in the sales and from charity shops and books from the book people. these are stored until christmas or birthdays. food shopping starts early, with the long life stuff.

FoundAChopinLizt Fri 13-Dec-13 22:12:41

Don't read magazines/watch programmes about The Perfect Christmas-it's an advertising wind up. Just get some thoughtful presents, even suitable vouchers, plan some great meals and enjoy spending time with loved ones.

ataraxia Sun 15-Dec-13 10:44:03

I try to buy gifts with enough time for online delivery to save a bit of money vs. the high street. To cope with unexpected visitors/gifts, I either get things that can be easily returned if unneeded, or things that I would use myself.

confusedofengland Mon 16-Dec-13 11:32:38

This is an especially expensive time of year for us, as DS1's birthday is 17th December & my Ddad's is 23rd December.

I do have a few strategies to get us through:

- Always buy Christmas paper, cards & decorations in the January sale. The DC are sending Cars, Princess & Thomas cards that were originally £5 at BHS but I bought for 50p.

- Stock up on pressies, especially for DC, throughout the year. We tend to have lots of birthday parties in November/December, too, so I buy lots of boy/girl/non-specific gifts & cards when I see them discounted throughout the year. This obviously only works if you have the storage!

- Make the most of special offers & loyalty schemes. Am going to use Tesco Clubcard boost for DS1's Christmas present, used Tesco vouchers for his birthday meal out yesterday & got DS2's present from Sainsbury's when they did 50%+ off, and used coupons at the same time.

- Have a little money in your budget to go food shopping on Christmas Eve: we have in the past stocked up on meat/veg/bread etc for the whole of January by going to Tesco just before closing on Christmas Eve smile

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 16-Dec-13 11:34:18

Hello - thanks for all the tips and comments - am pleased to say jelliebelly has won the £200 JL voucher. Well done!

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