Yes, I’ve said the C word… Christmas – it’ll be here before we know it! If you’ve reached this point in the year and realised you haven’t put any money aside for the Christmas festivities, don’t panic because here are lots of money saving tips for Christmas!
I’ve got you covered with money saving tips for Christmas gifts, food, and decorations; as well as some general money saving tips that will help not only for Christmas, but year round too.
Money Saving Tips For Christmas
Even though Christmas comes at the same time every year, I rarely put money aside for it and find myself realising (about this time of year) that I need extra money to cover the Christmas spends. And that’s where these money saving tips for Christmas will come in very handy!
It might only be [about] 2 months till Christmas, but there is still time to put these money saving tips into practice and have some extra cash to spend on presents, decorations, food etc.,
I have also got some general money saving tips that can help not only at Christmas, but the year round too.
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Money Saving Tips for Christmas Gifts
Christmas gifts and the food for the festivities are probably the two biggest things you will be spending money on. The average spend by British families is £821.25 on gifts, food, drink, and decorations. I don’t think I have ever spent as much as that, but it’s not a figure that surprises me.
Many of us want to be able to provide our family with the best Christmas that we can, but it doesn’t mean with have to throw a load of money at it for that to happen! So let me get on with these money saving tips for Christmas gifts:
- Set a budget – whether that is per person, or overall – and stick to it! Don’t say to yourself you’ll only spend ten on someone, and then go and spend twenty; you’ll be short of that extra ten for someone else – not good!
- Write a list of who you plan to buy presents for – then work on paring it down if you can. Do you really need to buy a gift for Aunt Joan who you never see from one year to the next? Or that friend who has kinda dwindled out of your life? Probably not – strike them off your list!
- Secret Santa – these are often set up in the work place, but they work really well for family and friends (especially if you have a group of mutual friends). Now that my siblings and I are grown up and married with kids (mostly!) we decided to stop buying individual presents but do a Secret Santa instead. We set a budget for the gift, secretly select names (pulled from a hat) and buy one gift for that person. We’ve also done it where we buy a random gift suitable for all, and play a pass the parcel type game to see what you get – a lot of fun!
- Buy for the kids only – be this nieces and nephews, cousins, or friend’s kids – cutting the present list down this way can go to some way to save some money for something else.
- No-buy pact – or you could go the no gift buying at all route. It may seem mean and not in the Christmas spirit, but when you are buying something for the sake of the season , is it really worth it? I’d rather have a day or night out with said person than another gift that I don’t really need. This is quite a tricky one to tackle, but a few of our friends and us did these years ago, and we’re still friends!
- Shop online – if you cannot contain yourself when at the shopping mall or high street (much like myself!), then online shopping is the way to go – for many reasons:
- You don’t have to battle lines, busy overheated shops, inconsiderate people, or the stress of finding a parking space
- You can shop at a time to suit you
- You can compare sites to get the best price for things. I use sites like Find Game, Find Books, Find Electrical to do the donkey work for me!
- You can use cashback sites like Quidco (my referral link will give you and me a reward when you have £5 cashback confirmed), and TopCashBack to get some cash back on your purchases. I have been using Quidco for years and have had so much money back it’s insane!
- You can think twice a lot easier. I do this all the time, before clicking purchase, I go through my shopping cart and ask myself if it is a necessary buy – even online I can get sucked into being a shopaholic!
- Write a gift shopping list – if you don’t want to shop online, and prefer the traditional route; write a list and stick to it! It is very easy to get caught up int he moment and buy lots of extras that you see as you walk around the shops.
- Use old gift cards* – chances are you probably have a gift card or two lying around in the back of a drawer, or tucked away in your purse. Check if there is any credit left on them – you can sometimes do this online, but if not, you can usually check in-store. Then use those to take money off when buying a gift. Or, if they are full, you could always re-gift… I have done that before when I’ve been gifted a card for a store that I don’t or can’t shop in. If you do want to buy someone a gift card, then I would recommend the One4All Gift Card which can be used at over 130 High Street stores in the UK – both in the physical shop as well as online if the retailer accepts the card as a payment method.
- *A side note – I’m not too much of a fan of gift cards these days, mainly because of retailers going bust. Gift cards are the first thing that stores stop accepting when they go into administration. Gift cards also have got an expiry date on them – they’re the sort of thing that can be tucked away and forgotten about. In both cases, the giver and the receiver have lost out. I have had also had both situations happen to me, so tend to stay away if I can.
- Christmas cards – I stopped sending Christmas cards a long time ago, sending just to my very nearest and dearest. I really don’t like sending cards “just for the sake of it” and I find that so many people do exactly that. We would get a card year after year for the old lady that lived in our house before us – she had passed away after spending a few years in a home – yet was still getting these cards. I couldn’t return to sender as no address, and it made me so sad that these people didn’t really care for the rest of the year.
- Buy good quality second-hand – I was a single mum for a couple of years when my son was a little boy, and didn’t know how on earth I was going to manage Christmas on benefits. He was into Power Rangers at the time and all the adverts on television were lighting up his eyes for the action figures. He wanted these huge Megazords that were upwards of £50 – not a chance! But I did find excellent quality ones on eBay! I’ve got a video of him opening them and he was so excited! He didn’t know that they were not brand new, or that they had cost me considerably less either.
- Buy at discount outlets – lots of shops now have online outlets selling end-of-line or old stock. MoneySavingExpert has a great A-Z of outlets. They advise that while items might be heavily discounted, it is still worth comparing online to make sure it really is the cheapest you can buy it.
- Black Friday – a tradition after Thanksgiving in the USA, has made its way over to UK shores over the past few years. Be smart about Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) deals – check that there are savings to actually be made, and not just a pretence of an inflated price to make it look like you’re grabbing a bargain. Do it online at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk who sell pretty much anything you can think of!
Money Saving Tips For Christmas Food
- Create a menu – if you are hosting the big day itself, one of the other days, a party, cocktails, or some other soiree where guests need to be fed and watered, create a menu. This will help you focus on what recipes you will be following, as well as what food you might need to order. This will make it easier when you…
- Turkey? – yes it’s the traditional meat of choice for most people on Christmas, but if there are only two or three of you, could you buy a large (and cheaper) chicken instead, or maybe just the crown of turkey instead of the full bird? Or if you must have turkey, but don’t want to roast a full bird, you could buy turkey steaks instead. You could also consider another meat like ham, beef or lamb.
- Make a food shopping list – If you created your menu(s) as I suggested above you can combine ingredients from different recipes to buy in bulk, making sure you buy the right amount of ingredients. You can also have dates written down for when you need to order food (like a fresh turkey for example) and when to pick said food up.
- Stick to the list – I don’t know about you, but I can go a bit crazy at Christmas time buying ALL the goodies and then being left with tons of food leftover! I certainly don’t need to buy everything, so if only 3 of us are having mince pies I don’t really need to buy several boxes…!
- Consider hosting a Christmas potluck – I love the idea of a potluck party – everyone invited brings a dish, and you all tuck in. No stress for the host having to prepare all the food, and less to clean up at the end too – win/win! It does take a bit of organising to make sure not everyone brings a bowl of sherry trifle, but that’s so much less hassle than having to prepare the trifle and everything else too! Plus it’s a money saver as you are only prepping one or two things.
- Don’t panic buy – it’s easy to get carried away, especially if you nip out on Christmas Eve for a few last minute bits. My tip? Don’t do it! You will overspend and you will get stressed with the crowds in-store (or is that just me?). Stick to the list – see above!
- Shop online – if you can grocery shop online for delivery (or click and collect) do it! It really helps you keep an eye on what you are spending, and resist the urge to panic buy. The only downside is that delivery/collection slots can fill up quickly, and there is the risk of some items not being available – if you’re familiar with online grocery shopping, you’ll know the struggle can be real with those substitutes!
- Check your supermarket loyalty cards – we personally shop at Tesco, and collect Clubcard points. We can triple boost them so that they are worth more if we spend them on other things like restaurant meals, or days out. 150 points would “only” get us £1.50 in store vouchers, but £15 in vouchers towards a day out. So to get the most bang for your buck it would be wise to boost them. However, in the past we have just used them towards the Christmas food shop as they were a big help at the time. We didn’t have the couple hundred quid it was going to cost us, but did have it in Clubcard vouchers. I’m not sure on other supermarkets, but make sure you are signed up to any loyalty cards and start racking up those points!
- Start stocking up now – most grocery stores will have started getting their festive foods in by now (if not already) and it’s worth spreading the cost by buying a few items in the run up to Christmas. Check use-by dates (mince pies seem to have very short dates on them!) to make sure that they will last till the big day. Stick to jars, tins and dried goods, which will have a long shelf life – or anything that can be frozen. Make sure to add what you’ve bought already to your list above so that you don’t buy it twice! (That’s how you end up with several jars of mince pie filling!)
- Christmas treats – Supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl sell a great range of continental Christmas treats at this time of year, like stollen, lebkuchen, and panatone. I have found them to be so much better value than the big supermarkets, and many of their ranges actually fare better in taste tests too! They also sell bottles of non-branded booze – think Irish cream liqueurs, and snowballs – which are so much cheaper than the named brands.
- Compare prices – You might have a favourite supermarket, but if you want to save some money on the Christmas shop, you can compare food prices at MySupermarket.co.uk, and you can even check out booze prices too.
- Meal plan – I have mentioned about creating menus for the Christmas events you might be hosting, but don’t forget all the other meals. We love meal planning and meal prepping as a way of saving both money and time.
- Use up leftovers – As a nation we throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink every year from home, costing us £12.5bn a year. Avoid waste and buy only what you need.
- Donate to a local food bank/shelters – no this isn’t saving you money, but it is helping someone else, and it’s the season of giving. Make use of Buy One, Get One Free, and other special offers when doing your grocery shop and donate the extras.
Money Saving Tips For Christmas Decorations
- Buy end of season – okay, so at this time of year, it’s not a great tip, but come 26th December….stock up on Christmas cards, wrapping paper, gift tags, etc., and even decorations, and crackers in the Boxing Day sales – everything will mostly be marked down and you can grab some real bargains for next Christmas.
- Artificial v real tree – this is going to be a personal choice, but, if you want to save money an artificial tree that might have a bigger initial outlay will last for many years – maybe even decades; where as a real tree will only last the season (unless you buy a small potted one and can save for the following year)
- Swap old fairy lights for new LED ones – the latter use less electricity, which will save you money.
- But turn the lights off – when you’re not at home, switch them off. It is a waste of energy.
- Make your own decorations – and let the kids do it to! Simple things like paper chains and glitter pinecones are cheap and easy to make. Instead of tinsel, why not pop some popcorn and thread onto cotton and hang on the tree, or make some gingerbread ornaments?
- Don’t buy new decorations every year – Check the decorations you do have before going to buy more. I have been guilty of this many times over the years. I would buy something new and then come home to see I already had it (or something similar)
- Check charity shops – you never know what you might find in there – you might even stumble upon some vintage decorations!
- Store decorations safely – nothing worse the following year to find several glass baubles have been smashed, meaning you may have to buy more. Pack away safely and save your money.
- Save on wrapping paper – it only goes in the trash. You could place gifts into re-useable gift bags and top off with some tissue paper (which could be used again); or if you do want to wrap presentss, why not some brown paper and string – tie on some twigs of pine, or holly and you’ve got a nice rustic looking gift. The brown paper could be used again, as could the string!
- Make your own gift tags – cut up your old Christmas cards using decorative edge scissors and turn those into gift tags instead of buying them. Or you could print some at home – I have several here.
I hope my money saving tips for Christmas has given you lots of ideas to save pennies/pounds/dollars/euros… whilst some of the links are UK specific, there may well be equivalent in your home country. I try to make my posts as non-country specific as I can, as I know I have a world-wide audience, but I’m British and in the UK, and the sites I include are ones that I use/have used, so I can recommend them.
What are your money saving tips for Christmas? Leave your tips in the comment section at the end of this post – I’d love to hear them!
General Money Saving Tips (for Christmas or Any Time of Year!)
- Switch utilities – are you getting the best deal when it comes to your utilities? Many people stick with the same supplier of things like gas, electric, insurance etc, either because they think it is difficult to switch; or because they feel they have to be loyal to a particular company. If you can save money by switching, why on earth wouldn’t you do that? USwitch is a great site that you can compare energy prices, as well as broadband, TV, and mobile phone packages. They even can compare personal finance and insurance options. It’s always good to compare the compare sites, so you can also check out sites like MoneySuperMarket or Compare the Market.
- Ask your current provider what they can do for you – if you are no longer tied into a contract with your current provider ask them what the best deal that they can do for you is. In the past I have declined an offer as I didn’t feel it was good enough and was then put through to their retentions team – who was able to give me a very good deal.
- If you really need to borrow for Christmas, then apply for 0% credit card – and pay it off in full before the offer expires. MoneySavingExpert has an eligibility calculator that will tell you your chances of being accepted. This is not something I encourage, simply because of my own experience with a credit card in my early 20s and getting into debt.
- Buy 2nd Class stamps – I mentioned Christmas cards earlier on. If you are sending them, send them 2nd class instead of 1st class. It may not seem like a lot (I think it’s about 10p difference), but if you have to buy a few books of 12 stamps, the money you save could buy something else – like a roll of wrapping paper!
- Check the last posting dates for Christmas on the Post Office website
- Cheap petrol – will petrol ever truly cheap again? Probably not, but find the cheapest in your area at PetrolPrices.com. Check your local/free paper for petrol coupons. Our local paper often has a money-off per litre which my father-in-law gives to us – very handy! Some supermarkets also run money-off petrol when you spend in store. It may not be a lot of money save, but every little helps!
- Car service & MOT – don’t feel that you need to go to your car dealer for these annual checks on your vehicle. The price difference can be a lot of money, which we have found out in the past – ask friends and family for garage recommendations.
- Insurance renewals – I know I mentioned insurance above, but I have to mention about renewals because we have just had our car insurance renewal come in and it is £200 more than what we paid last year! We phoned to check this and was told that renewal prices are computer generated and should always phone for the best price! Shame they couldn’t give the best price to start with right??!
- Declutter & Sell – I’m such a fan of this! We all outgrow certain things in our homes – books, toys, clothes, DVDs, etc., and instead of just tossing them away, you could sell them online via sites like eBay, Gumtree, MusicMagpie, Amazon, or at a car boot sale – although might be a bit late in the year now for the outdoor ones, check local listings for indoor boot sales. And if you can’t sell – donate instead. Donate to a local homeless shelter, women’s refuge, food bank, hospice, charity shop… there is always someone else in need.
- Cutback – daily coffee at Starbucks? Work lunches down the pub or at the local sandwich bar? Add up those pounds because it can be a lot per week/month! You can buy so many coffee types these days, included brands like Starbucks and Costa – so make a flask and take into work with you! Similarly, make lunches at home to bring with you. Need ideas? I have a huge series of recipes that are perfect for packed lunches!
- Open a separate bank account for your Christmas savings – and yes, you can compare the different banks these days too.
- Check deal sites – like Groupon or Wowcher, but also check you’re getting the bargain deal that you think you are.
- Fill a piggy bank! – it might be old fashioned, but putting your change at the end of the day or week into a jar or money box will soon add up. In the past I’ve done things like save every 20p or 50p I had in my purse, or even more fun was every £2 coin I got as they weren’t so popular. It’s amazing how they add up over time – even in the three months-ish to Christmas!
- Make a note of what you spent this year – then divide that by 12 and that is how much you should aim to save each month for next year’s festivities.
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