Do you know what the true cost of Christmas is? Read our tips on how to be thrifty this Christmas 

With Christmas just around the corner, you’re probably well underway with your preparations for the big day. Now although the Christmas period brings a lot of joy to most, it can be a stressful time of year. With presents to buy, trees to decorate, Christmas lunch to provide, the spending seems to be never ending! According to figures from VoucherCodes and the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) families in Britain are set to spend £821.25 on food, drink, gifts and decorations this Christmas! This is a jump of over 1% from last year and 54% more than the European average spend of £532.

Christmas is about spending time with friends and family, not about the flashy presents and fancy food. However, it’s important to be prepared financially for the big day. With presents to buy and wrap, decorations to put up and of course all the food and drink that will be consumed over the festive break, there’s a lot to remember and fit into your monthly budget! If you are really organised you may have already purchased the gifts, put up decorations and have the food in the freezer. If this is the case, well done you! I’m sure there are lots of people that haven’t even started thinking about it yet! With this in mind, we have come up with some tips to help your money go further.

What’s a priority to you?

A good place to start with budgeting for Christmas is to decide on what’s a priority to you. Are you having the family round for Christmas day? Will you need to purchase all the food and drink? Or do you need to buy presents for what seems like a million and one people? Whatever it is, just take the time to work out exactly how much you have to spend and what you need to buy. It’s always easier to write it down so you can visually see everything. Follow this simple process below to help budget more effectively.

Work out your budget

Bear in mind the dates you get paid and other non-Christmas related expenses that you may need to pay for in December.

What do you need to buy

Write down everything you need to buy and put a predicted cost next to each thing. Then total this up so you have a rough figure in mind. It’s always better to overestimate so it gives you some leeway.

Compare your budget to your predicted costs

If the predicted costs exceed your budget, prioritise the list and see where you could reduce your costs.

How to de-clutter for Christmas

When Christmas arrives your house is likely to be filled with presents, decorations and a lot of food and drink so you may want to think about ways of clearing some space. Before you even think about buying anything, why not have a clear out of some of things that you probably don’t need or want anymore. Now we’re not suggesting you throw anything away as you may be able to make some extra cash by selling things online. Have your children got lots of toys that they don’t play with? Or have they recently had a growth spurt and outgrown their old clothes? Well if this is the case, you could look to sell some things on websites like ebay or Gumtree for example. A good way of doing this is to ask your children if there’s anything they no longer want, just to save the tears if you were to sell it without their permission! Once you’ve collated some things, you could have a look online to see if there’s similar items for sale. This will give you an idea as to what price you could get for your items.

Another option is to donate unwanted items to a local charities. There’s a lot of ways you can get involved with a great example being the shoe box appeal. This is ran by various different charities like www.samaritans-purse.org.uk and www.linktohope.co.uk, which can be found by searching online. All you need to do is get a shoebox, fill it with nice gifts like toys and school supplies and send it off via your local drop off location. This will be sent to a child that has very little and is likely to make their Christmas a special one.

How to prioritise your spending

There’s plenty of ways to make your money go further by prioritising your spending. This could include reducing the amount of presents you buy. Now this can be a sensitive area especially when it comes to having those conversations around buying for various family members. But is it necessary? Christmas shouldn’t be a retail festival and although it’s nice to buy presents for everyone you know, it simply isn’t healthy for your budget. If you do have a big list of people to buy for, you can use shop deals to your advantage. Things like 3 for 2 deals, where you chose 3 things you want to buy and get the cheapest thing free! This means you could get 9 presents for the price of 6 – sorted!

Another option is to have a family Secret Santa. This is something that is often done at work or amongst friends, however it’s a great idea if you’ve got a large family. If everyone just has one present to buy, not only is it a cost saving, but you can have a laugh with it too!

If you are buying presents for each other, you could set a spend limit. It’s very easy to go overboard and buy too much when really one nice gift may be more appreciative and will go a lot further. If you and your partner are looking to save for maybe a holiday next year or a wedding, then why not just get one gift each and limit your spending.

Now there’s no doubt the Christmas decs are already up and there’s a high chance that we will all go to the local garden centre to add to the collection. Now we don’t want to sound like we’ve lost our festive cheer but do you really need to go out and buy more decorations for your home? It’s worth thinking about how much time you will actually be spending at home and make a decision as to whether you’ll make the most of your decorations. Do you need to cover your house in lights, especially if you’re going away for Christmas? It’s worth a thought.

How can you save money on your Christmas food shop?

We don’t know about you but we love our Christmas dinners and it’s one of the best parts of Christmas day! Having the family round for a banquet of food, what could be better? Whilst this can often be an expensive me, it doesn’t have to be! There’s always ways you can save money. Follow these steps below to save money on your shopping bill.

Share the shop

If the family are coming round for Christmas, why not spread the costs of the food? If everyone chips in for different bits, this will save you quite a bit. Ask the grandparents to bring the veg, ask your siblings to provide the Christmas pud or suggest a joint shop and simply split the bill. There’s a lot to think about and remember when it comes to preparing the food so share the responsibility.

Online deals and cashback

Online shopping is rapidly becoming a more popular way to buy and there are often a range of offers for new customers visiting a site. Often websites offer new customers discount codes or percentage off items with a first purchase. Take the time to see what deals you can find as you may get more for your money buying online rather than in store.

Another way to save on your shop is to look for cashback offers that might be available. Cashback is an incentive offered to buyers where a cash refund is received when making a purchase. Websites like www.topcashback.co.uk offer cashback on the majority of large supermarkets, which means you can get a little bit back for the things you were going to buy anyway.

Choose your shop

Do you have a regular supermarket that you go to for your shopping or do you prefer to use a couple of different shops? Well it’s definitely worth thinking about changing and looking at supermarkets that offer better deals on the food that you buy. Low cost supermarkets are great for finding bargains. Now we know there can be misconceptions around the quality of food and drink, but you don’t know until you try. We certainly recommend looking around to see what deals are available.

Why not have a DIY Christmas?

Have you ever made your own presents? Not only is it often more sentimental, it’s really en vogue to have a DIY Christmas. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Presents

Do you see yourself as a bit of craftsman or just love a challenge? Well if so, why not look at creating your own Christmas gifts. This is a great way of getting in the festive mood and it can be a real money saver. Have a look online for some ideas, you may need to buy some supplies but it may not be as expensive as buying the real thing in a shop. If you’re making a present It’ll also mean the person you’re giving too will have a completely unique gift, which is a lot more sentimental!

Decorations

Have you ever thought about making your own decorations to put up in your home? If so, why don’t you get the children involved. They break up from school soon and will need something to do over the holidays. This will save you spending money in the local garden centre and is something different to do.

Bake

If hand crafts aren’t the thing for you, then why not look at baking? If you’re going to your family’s house for Christmas you may be planning to take round a Christmas pudding or a nice desert. If you’re up for saving money and fancy learning a new skill, why not make it yourself. There’s plenty of recipes online to follow and they say the way to someone’s heart is through there stomach! What could go wrong!

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