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How To Have Yourself A Merry Little Budget Christmas!

Christmas is notoriously expensive! The cost of Christmas can spiral out of control if you don't have a plan to keep your spending on track. Therefore, I've come up with a few ideas that can help you have a more frugal Christmas this year, and putting some of these ideas into play now could help make next Christmas super cheap, too!

Hints and tips on how to have a more frugal Christmas, both this year and next!

Christmas is notoriously expensive! The cost of Christmas can spiral out of control if you don't have a plan to keep your spending on track. Therefore, I've come up with a few ideas that can help you have a more frugal Christmas this year, and putting some of these ideas into play now could help make next Christmas super cheap, too!

🎄 One of the biggest expenses is Christmas gifts for your friends and family; therefore, it's an area where you can potentially save the most money. No matter if you're buying pink argyle diamonds or have more of a budget for a box of chocolates, the most effective way to keep your festive spending in check is to set a budget for everybody for you need to buy a gift for. This is an ideal way to make sure you don’t overspend, as it’s very easy to get carried away! This could be as simple as putting everybody’s name onto an envelope and putting their gift budget inside as cash. Once that cash has gone, that’s it, no more presents and no more spending!

🎄If you are struggling to be able to afford gifts, have a chat with your friends and family and let them know that money is tight and that this year you’re not in a position to spend a fortune, so perhaps everybody can come up with that gift that’s not that expensive that you can buy for them. Equally, being honest with everybody may be a big relief as others may be in the same position and also worried about how they are going to afford Christmas. Between you all, you may choose that actually, this year you’re not going to buy gifts, or you’ll set a lower-than-normal budget, which can make all the difference. It’s important to set realistic expectations with people! 🎄 If you're going to need to use your credit card and won't be able to pay it off when the bill comes in, then stop! That is the time to speak to your family and set realistic expectations with people about what you can afford. You do not want to be still paying off Christmas 2023 in October 2024; it makes no sense. It's one day, and you shouldn't be in a position where you're paying for it months later!

🎄 If you have a big family to buy for, especially an extended family, then look at doing a Secret Santa. Apps such as Elfster allow everyone in a family or group to join a buying group, and the app picks someone to buy for from the group. Then you buy just one gift rather than buying for everyone. You set a gift-buying budget, and the recipients/group members set up a wish list of things they’d actually really like to receive and not only do people receive what they’d like, but you save a fortune over buying multiple presents, plus it takes away the stress of gift buying!

🎄There’s nothing to say that when you buy someone a gift, it must be brand new! Buying from a charity shop is a fab way to save some money as well as save something from potentially going to waste. There are so many unused and pristine products in charity shops, so it’s well worth looking at, especially for clothes and toys!

🎄Equally, there is nothing wrong with regifting items that you’ve received! Perhaps Auntie Mabel would like those socks you were given last year but aren’t your style. It can save you money and avoid wastage, but don’t regift something you were given, back to the person who gave it to you; that’s generally frowned upon!

🎄Receiving homemade gifts can be just as nice as shop-bought and potentially even nicer! Perhaps homemade sweets such as fudge, baked goods, hand-drawn pictures, or maybe a nice family photo you’ve taken being put into a frame and gifted; it can save you money, and it shows the recipient that a higher level of care and thought has been put into the gift, which is always well received! 🎄You can also make your own gift wrap by drawing or stencilling designs onto plain paper (a good one to keep the kids busy!), and the same goes for Christmas cards; who doesn’t like to receive a homemade card!? 🎄 Create your own festive centrepieces using items like pinecones, candles, or seasonal fruits. You can find inspiration online and gather materials inexpensively. 🎄 Find free printable decorations, gift tags, and greeting cards online. Many websites offer festive printables that can add a personal touch without costing anything, and these can be a great way to keep the kids busy!

🎄 Take advantage of free community events and activities, such as local Christmas light switch-ons, ceremonies, parades, or concerts. These can provide festive experiences without the expense and can be a lot of fun. We always go to your town light switch on, which is really fun; my son gets to see Santa; there's a live band, fireworks and many entertaining Christmas-themed dancers and activities. It's our unofficial start of the Christmas festivities and is totally free conned into getting food and drinks by the family from the vendors on site! Just take your own drinks and snacks to avoid thius!

🎄 If you are buying from the shops, then make sure you check prices before you buy! If you’re in a physical shop and see something you’d like to buy someone, there’s nothing to stop you from using your phone to check prices online to see if you can get it cheaper online or from another physical retailer, even a couple of quid can make a difference!

🎄 If buying online, not only should you use price comparison sites to see which retailer is cheaper, but you should also see which cashback service is offering the best cashback deal for the retailers as well. You might find the product you want to buy is the same price everywhere, but you might find that one cashback service is offering an increased cashback rate, which will ultimately save you money if you use their services. This is why it's always a good idea to shop around for both the product and cashback, as both can vary wildly!

🎄 Speaking of cashback apps, if you’re going to get someone a gift card as a gift, which is a popular way of gifting these days as then the recipient can get something they really want, use a dedicated gift card cashback service such as JamDoughnut, Cheddar or Mad About Money to buy the gift card. That way, you’ll get cashback on every gift card you buy, yet the recipient will be none the wiser that you saved yourself some money, so it’s a win-win!

🎄 Gifts don’t have to be physical. Offering someone a homemade gift card for something such as movie night, their favourite dinner cooked by you, a foot massage, you’ll empty the dishwasher every day for a week voucher, a car wash once a month for a year voucher, the list is endless; it’s still a lovely and caring gift but means you’re not putting yourself into a sticky financial situation buying gifts you can’t afford.

🎄 Free samples! I do a search every week or so on all my social media pages for the phrase ‘free sample’. This will normally bring up a range of different freebies you can grab either online or in-store. The wonderful social media algorithms will also then start bringing up free sample posts onto your feed automatically, so you get the opportunity to get even more freebies. I have a big bag of free perfume and cologne samples at home, which I’ve collected over the year, and I’ll be using them in my daughter's Christmas stocking; and are always popular as she can try lots of different fragrances; better still, it cost me nothing! You can make up a hamper with any food samples!

Let's look at Christmas food. We all enjoy a Christmas nosh fest, but with the cost of the living crisis still putting pressure on our finances, are there ways to eat well at Christmas for less?

🎄 Buy frozen! The appeal of a fresh turkey is strong at Christmas, but it is really expensive! I can’t tell the difference between a frozen turkey and a fresh one once I’ve drowned it in gravy and bread sauce, but my wallet can! Frozen food is always cheaper than fresh, so look to utilise this where possible. The only thing I find is cheaper and better is the Christmas veg, as there’s always a price war in the supermarkets to have the cheapest sprouts, carrots and spuds, so buy that fresh as they’re normally sold at cost or below cost to get customers in the door, as these ‘doorbuster deals’ are planned so that you’ll not only buy your veg from them but also at the same time buy your other Christmas food at the same time, which has a better margin for the retailers!

🎄Buy your Christmas food throughout the year and freeze it! If you see yellow sticker food, that would work well at Christmas, but it’s July, that’s fine; throw it in the freezer, and then you have it when you need it! That might be sausages, bacon, fresh gravy, desserts, or even veg works! There’s nothing to stop you from part cooking your Christmas Day spuds in March, freezing them, and then finishing cooking them on Christmas Day, and by spreading the cost of the foods throughout the year, you are not then hit with a nasty bill at the supermarket till in December!

🎄It doesn’t have to be yellow sticker food you buy; any food works, of course, and it's great financial planning to buy something every month to put away for Christmas as it lightens the financial load later in the year!

🎄 If you’re hosting a Christmas dinner, then suggest that everybody brings a dish with them for the meal. This is a good way to keep food costs low, and it takes the pressure off the host and means they are more likely to be able to spend time with the family rather than being stuck in the kitchen the whole time!

🎄 When it comes to drinks, look at the supermarket's own brand labels over the big brand labels. Tests have shown, for example, that own-brand cream liqueurs are just as good as the big-name branded ones and, in some cases, are actually even better tasting as well as being cheaper! 🎄Take advantage of the supermarket deals for stocking up on snacks. Right now, supermarkets are knocking out the tube of crisps at a third of what they cost two months ago, and the infamous chocolate orange is selling for a quid, rather than the nearly three quid cist they were back in the summer. The same goes with the tubs of sweets as well; buy them while they're cheap and hide them away for Christmas!

🎄 Supermarket cashback apps such as Shopmium, GreenJinn and CheckoutSmart often have loads of offers on products you buy at Christmas, so checking what's on offer at the supermarket you're going to can save you money. Consider swapping brands if a different brand is on offer on a supermarket cashback app for the same type of product you were going to buy; it can make a big difference.

🎄Once everyone has their turkeys and the trimmings on Christmas Eve, you’ll see the supermarkets slashing the price of their Christmas ranges. Then it is time to buy for next Christmas! I’ve bought a super cheap turkey on Christmas Eve and then frozen it, and we ate it the following Christmas; it saved a fortune, although it did somewhat take over the freezer space for a year!

🎄It’s not just food that buying after Christmas makes financial sense. The retailers start slashing the cost of Christmas decorations, gifts, artificial trees, gift wrap, cards, etc, just before Christmas and certainly just after. They can't return these items to their suppliers, and they don’t want to have to store the festive items for a year, so they’ll aggressively price the products to clear so you could pick up an absolute bargain, ready for use next year. My Christmas tree I got for under £20, down from £100, and it’s about to have its 6th outing in our lounge, so it has been amazing value for money; even the Christmas lights were reduced to clear bargain!

There are lots of ways to save money at Christmas, as you can see, and by planning next Christmas now, you can make Christmas 2024 seriously cheap! I mention lots of different money-making apps such as cashback apps, receipt scanning apps, market research projects and apps, and most of these pay you in gift cards or allow you to keep your earnings in the app's wallet. So maybe save all the gift cards and keep the money in the app and then cashout at Christmas, and you'll be amazed how much money you’ve got; it could totally pay for Christmas, and means Christmas hasn’t actually cost you a penny, only your time doing the tasks involved, it doesn’t get much more frugal than that!


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