Ways to save on your Christmas spend
There's no need to spend a fortune on the festivities! Avoid the January bank-balance blues with MNers' top tips for Christmas on a budget.
1. Plan ahead
It may seem obvious, but the sooner you start prepping, the less stressful December will be. Sort out everything you need to do before the big day, and break it down into manageable chunks that can fit in with your other commitments. If you're a fan of making lists or spreadsheets, this is your moment - just don't forget to stick to them.
"Do a list of everyone you need to buy presents for
and set price limits - then get things from the internet, using offer sites and
discount codes. That way, it looks like you have spent way
2. Be crafty when decking the halls
Decorations don't have to cost a fortune - the pound shop really is your friend here. Homemade ones can add a lovely retro glow, too, and your DC will probably get a thrill from contributing to the tree or a bit of wall-space.
The same goes for Christmas cards and wrapping paper: relatives are often genuinely touched by a bit of homemade sparkle. So gather together your craft supplies or get handy with the potato printing - festive craft sessions are great for building excitement in the run-up to the big day.
"Make star biscuits with the kids and ice them
- use these to help to decorate the tree. Make paper chains to help trim
the room, and make tin foil 'snowflakes' to put up in the
"Last year I filled glass jars with LED lights (from the pound shop)
to make the house look more festive."
3. Drop the big shop
It's easy to get caught up in the supermarket frenzy, but your wallet will thank you if you tough it out and buy only what you need. Stock up on non-perishables like canned and frozen goods a little at a time in the run-up to December - you'll spread the cost over a period of weeks or even months, and avoid having to do one frantic Christmas megashop - it's a win-win.
"Aldi/Lidl is the way to go. You can a little bit each week, or
start putting a bit of money aside now and do a big shop later."
"Have chicken instead of turkey: it's much cheaper. Plan the
meals that you will be having over the Christmas period, so that you can just
buy the items that you need."
4. Trade materialism for memories
Christmas treats like a visit to Santa or a trip to the panto are magical for children, and there are often cheaper alternatives to the shopping centres and big-name productions. Look for local community events that are often a fraction of the price, and don't discount the excitement value of activities like tree decorating, or a wintery walk followed by a hot chocolate (add whipped cream or marshmallows for enhanced treat factor).
Check out Mumsnet Local to see what's on in your local area.
"Make a list of all the things you
can do for free or next to nothing: play Christmas songs, go to a carol
concert, listen to the lovely brass bands in shopping centres, admire city
centre decorations. These are the bits children remember, not the mass of
expensive and unnecessary toys."
"Arrange other activities for Christmas Day, so that it's not all just about opening and then playing with presents. We like to go to the beach. It means that if you aren't buying them that much, they quite likely won't notice."
5. It really is the thought that counts
If you're watching your budget, set price limits, shop around, and don't be afraid to suggest a Secret Santa to friends and family - they might find it a blessed relief. Don't underestimate the value of a homemade gift - if you're a keen cook or know how to knit, put your skills to good use and save a bit of cash whilst you're at it.
"For gifts, forget about what others are doing. Think of the receiver, what they like and need, and try to find something with THEM in mind. So even if it's small, it's personal."
"Buy decent 'family' presents instead of separate ones. Getting joint family gifts is great, and you can have a bit of togetherness using them, too."
6. Keep warm and cosy with layers and wool
Fuel bills tend to skyrocket as the temperature plummets, and can be a source of stress for many at this time of year. Layering up with jumpers, socks and thick thermals is a good start (and easier on the environment) - and blocking draughts will also combat the winter chill. Watch out for condensation though - you'll need some ventilation to avoid it. Check out our heating hacks for more tips on keeping cosy this Christmas.
"My advice would also be layers and some of those cheap
fleece blankets that are really warm and can go over duvets/bed
covers. Hot water bottles are also great."
"We snuggle under layers of blanket to watch telly. The
children love to pretend they are going camping indoors draping blankets
around, wrapping up and singing campfire songs on my lap in our 'tent'."
7. Shop smarter
Voucher codes and flash sale sites can be a lifesaver at Christmas, so keep your eyes peeled, and be sure to check out Mumsnet Discounts regularly for our exclusive partner offers. Mumsnetters also have their own Christmas Bargains thread over in Talk, sharing the best deals online and on the high street. If you've got some time on your hands, scope out your local charity shops, and don't be afraid to ask for freebies if you're buying big ticket items - lots of retailers work on commission so the chances are they'll be keen to make a sale.
"Check charity shops for presents. You can get new-in-packet ones, but you can also get some excellent second-hand toys for smaller DC. My sons both had stockings pretty much entirely from the charity shop last year and each cost £20 tops."
"I'm getting as much on eBay as possible this year. Preloved is definately the way forward!"
Work out how much you can save in the lead up to Christmas with the Money Advice Service budgeting tool.
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Last updated: 2 months ago