There’s no denying the fact that Christmas can be a costly time of year, and it’s very easy to get sucked into the culture of overspending, encouraged by adverts and images everywhere of ‘the perfect Christmas’ — which always features many expensive gifts and enough food to feed 100s of people.
However, you really don’t need to rack up crazy credit card bills to have a fantastic Christmas. You can have a great time while sticking to a budget, meaning you’ll have a happy new year too, knowing you’re not in debt from one day of unnecessary indulgence!
Follow the five steps below and enjoy a cheaper, stress-free Christmas this year.
1. Plan ahead
The sooner you get organised for Christmas, the better. This way you have plenty of time to consider everything carefully instead of splashing the cash in a last-minute panic like you may have done in past years. Plan now using the other steps for guidance, and save money later.
2. Spread the cost of your Christmas dinner
If you’re hosting Christmas dinner this year, spread the cost by buying one or two non-perishable Christmas dinner items each time you go food shopping between now and the big day. Alternatively, a fun way to cut costs for Christmas dinner is to ask everyone to bring a dish of something with them. Depending on how many guests you’re hosting, this might leave you to arrange only the turkey, gravy and Yorkshire puds. Of course, another excellent way to cut costs is to get yourself invited to someone else’s Christmas Day dinner!
Read our How to save money on Christmas dinner blog post for further tips on this.
3. Give the gift of thoughtfulness
If you’re on a budget, there are a number of ways to cut your gift spend this Christmas. First of all, sit down and write a list of those you want to buy a gift for. Then, go through that list and cross off those you’re only buying for out of habit but don’t really need to buy for. Are there some friends and family members you could make an agreement with not to exchange gifts this year? Others on a tight festive budget may appreciate this offer.
Once you have your final list, add realistic individual gift budgets (not what you want to spend in an ideal world!) and stick to them. You don’t need to spend a lot to get someone something they will love. Think about what each person enjoys. Would they perhaps appreciate a handmade gift? Mason jars full of ingredients for making sweet treats like brownies and hot chocolate are often popular, and surprisingly cheap to put together.
4. Deck the halls cheaply
Pound stores are ideal when it comes to sourcing cheap Christmas decorations! You may expect the decorations in these shops to be a little tacky, but you’ll be surprised at what you can buy and how good it looks when you get it home. Why not add to your pound shop finds with some homemade decorations too? If you have kids, nieces or nephews, they will love getting involved with this — why not go all out and make some wrapping paper too using homemade stamps? Homemade items may be cheaper but they’re also more personal, so there’s really no downside to getting creative this festive season!
5. Don’t say yes to every invite
The social invites often come flooding in in December, which is fun but can easily lead to overspending. Set yourself a ‘party budget’ for the season, and pick and choose your social events wisely. Alcohol can be a big cost, so why not cut it out for a few events? You could also organise a few events of your own this year — don’t forget how much fun free activities can be such as local light switch-ons, carol services, decorating the tree, and a hot chocolate shared with friends.
Wishing you a lovely (and cheaper!) Christmas.