Christmas is expensive. It always has been, but with the rising cost of living, this Christmas may just be the most expensive yet. As we all look to cut back our spending, here are a few tips to help you save money at Christmas, without losing out.
1. Spread the cost
Spreading the cost always helps.
If you don’t have the time to start shopping early, or have indecisive kids, then you can spread the cost by having a separate Christmas savings account.
You can also put money aside in an envelope each week if that’s easier.
If there is something particular that you have your eye on, on an online store like Amazon, then it’s often worth saving it in your basket. Often, if you keep an eye on the cost, some items like electronics, can increase and decrease in price drastically over time.
We have saved a fair amount using this technique.
2. Check out the sales
You can get some lovely gifts at a fraction of the price when shopping in the sales.
There are the big sales, like Black Friday, but many shops will have their own sales throughout the year.
So, if there is somewhere you particularly like to buy from, keep an eye on their website or social media.
There are not usually sales right before Christmas, so this is another instance where starting your Christmas shopping early really pays off.
3. Find a less expensive brand
The majority of gifts that you buy will be available from different shops, or online retailers.
It is always worth comparing costs between shops and different brands.
Recently, I went online to shop for one of those cosy wearable blankets that are currently on trend. I was surprised to see just how big the price difference was between the brands.
Sometimes, yes, you get what you pay for, but not always. There is huge price variation out there, so it’s always worth doing research to choose the best deal for you.
4. Secret Santa
Presents are a big part of Christmas for most children, but for many adults choosing what to gift and the cost can just be a huge stress.
If this sounds like you and your family and friends, then suggest doing a Secret Santa with a spend limit.
Your friends and family will probably be just as relieved to reduce their costs and the time spent present shopping.
To reduce costs further, whilst being environmentally conscious, do what an old work colleague of mine used to do, add in a rule that all presents must be bought from a charity shop!
If you have some free time, and the resources, then put your skills and talents to good use.
Make some of your Christmas gifts this year.
Sometimes you can even buy your materials second hand, like wool for knitting, from a second-hand shop or discount store.
If you’re not crafty but can bake, check out some recipes online for Christmas sweets or biscuits.
My children love to bake homemade gingerbread men for their teachers Christmas gift. We often add something else alongside it, but it always goes down well.
Christmas cards and gift wrap can also be handmade, even if you’re not artistic. There are some beautiful Christmas stamps out there that can be used to make a pattern. You can get your kids involved, using stickers, paint or drawings.
6. Search for discount codes
Another way to save money at Christmas is to search for discount codes.
This is a simple one and something I had not even considered until my husband put me onto it.
Just before you are about to buy anything online, pause and do a quick google search for your product or the shop you are buying from for a discount code.
There are sites dedicated to finding you discount codes that you can sign up to, but a quick google search usually does the job.
7. Sign up for email lists
Sign up for email lists that give you money off your first purchase or free posting for online orders.
This is another simple tip that helps you save money.
To avoid email advertising that you don’t want, remember you can unsubscribe at any time. There is always a small unsubscribe button at the bottom of each email, so after Christmas you can have a good detox of your inbox and just save those subscriptions you actually want.
8. Pad out your kids present pile with big, inexpensive items
If your kids are anything like mine, then they have one or two bigger, expensive presents in mind. Sometimes that expensive present is a fairly small box of lego or a camera, and they look rather small wrapped up under the tree.
However, they were expensive and there’s not much left in your budget for lots more presents.
This is where I add in a big cosy blanket, beanbag, onesie, new slippers, oversized teddy or something similar that looks big, and takes up space, but won’t break the bank.
Think of things they need, that you will have to buy soon anyway, like PJs, and add those in too.
9. Food shop
When it comes to Christmas lunch, it’s worth considering how you shop.
Some people save money at Christmas by shopping in store, as you can look for discounts and sub in cheaper items. Some people (like me) are bad for impulse buys, so save money by shopping online and paying delivery.
Think about which method works best for you.
Sometimes taking out a set amount of money from the cash machine and then leaving your bank card in the car helps you stick to your budget. If you are not particular about the type of meat you eat for Christmas dinner then it’s worth waiting until the evening before to buy the discounted cuts.
Of course, the less pre-prepared items you buy, the cheaper your shop, so consider buying and preparing yourself.
You can spread this out by prepping food and putting it in the freezer ahead of time.
Check out the website ‘feed your family for £20 a week’ for more ideas on this and other ideas to save on food shopping. I
f you are eating with family or friends, then think about all contributing something to the meal so the hosting family isn’t out of pocket.
10. Christmas decorations
A smaller Christmas tree can still give a wow factor to your room, when placed on a sturdy coffee table.
Decorations can be just as amazing and special when homemade.
There are so many great ideas on Pinterest for homemade Christmas decorations, and you can get your kids involved too.
I actually prefer adding in some homemade decorations that we can reuse every year. It becomes part of our Christmas decorating tradition and the kids love seeing what they made when they were little.
Handmade Christmas cards by the kids is another way to save money at Christmas, or just skip cards altogether!
11. Second hand
Now I know what you’re thinking. I’m on a budget, but I don’t want to buy a second hand gift for someone.
Hear me out though, whenever I hit the charity shops, thrift stores, jumble sales, and local online second hand selling groups, I am astounded by the number of brand new things for sale.
There’s almost always some unwanted Christmas or birthday gifts in their original packaging, unopened.
It’s worth a look, right?
Often in the lead up to Christmas, people have a clear out to make space. This is the ideal time to find a bargain.
Shops will often save things that they think will make good Christmas presents and put them out when they set up for Christmas.
You will also find discounted Christmas trees, decorations, and Christmas jumpers appearing in the second hand shops around the beginning of December.
This is a great way to save money at Christmas time, especially if this is your first Christmas somewhere new.
It’s not about the money
These are just a few tips to help you navigate the Christmas season on a reduced budget.
The one thing I haven’t mentioned is games to play on Christmas day. If you’re looking for some fun and free family games for Christmas this year, then check out my article, Intergenerational Family Christmas Games.
Remember though, at the end of the day, Christmas is not about the gifts, the perfect meal, decorations or money.
Think about what Christmas really means to you and prioritise that.
Is it about time spent together as a family, celebrating all you have, eating good food, or the birth of Jesus?
I hope that whatever Christmas is about for you, you have a special time celebrating it when it comes.