This year the cost of living crisis, rising fuel bills and rampant inflation will make affording Christmas much harder than usual. Yet, you can still enjoy a magical Christmas on a budget, and we’ve put together some ideas to help you embrace the festive season with minimal cost.
Set priorities and a realistic budget
What is important to you at Christmas time? Spending time as a family? Seeing friends and relations you’ve not seen for a while? Enjoying food and drink that you wouldn’t normally consume?
Once you’ve decided on your priorities, think about how much money you have to spend on celebrating the festive season. What can you realistically afford? Even if you have very little spare cash, there are ways to enjoy the festivities which do not cost a fortune.
Moving forward, it’s a good idea to try saving a small amount on a regular basis throughout the year for Christmas spending. For example, £10 a month would give you £120 to spend over the festive period.
Money saving tips
Do not borrow money to finance the festivities, instead become a savvy shopper. Ideally, you would look out for discounted goods throughout the year to stockpile for Christmas. Even without doing that, you can save money by taking advantage of free postage and packing offers, do all online shopping on cashback sites or in stores with a reward scheme. You could also consider having a potluck Christmas dinner, where guests all bring one dish each.
Earning extra money
One way to generate some extra cash is to take advantage of some of the banks’ switching offers. By switching your account, some banks offer up to £200 as an opening incentive. Other ways to raise more money include online surveys, selling things on auction sites, making and selling food or craft items, dog walking, babysitting and picking up shifts at local bars, pubs and restaurants who may need an extra pair of hands.
Firstly, think about whether you can cut down on the number of gifts you buy and give. You could agree with adult family members to do a Secret Santa, where a budget is set for a specific amount such as £50 and each person writes a wish list of items they would like up to that value. Names are then picked out of a hat to decided who buys for who, although there are some online tools that can sort this out, such as Drawnames and Elfster. This can save the time, money and stress often associated with gift buying.
Other ways to save could be making gifts such as shortbread, brownies, pencil cases, and make-up bags. Or use free photo print offers to create a handmade album, calendar, or collage as a gift. If you are really struggling, consider giving Gift Cheques offering your time, where you offer to cook, babysit, or clean for the recipient.
The joy of Christmas is spending quality time with family and friends, and this doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Here are some ideas for getting that warm and sparkly Christmas feeling on a budget.
- Drive or walk around your neighbourhood admiring all the festive lights and displays
- Make special hot chocolate with marshmallows to enjoy while watching a Christmas movie
- Read Christmas-themed books with your children
- Turn off the TV and play games with children, family, and friends
- Print off free online Christmas colouring pages
- Bake and decorate some Christmas cookies or cupcakes together
- Make some Christmas decorations
- Instead of sacrificing a living tree get an artificial one to use each year
- Buy cheap fairy lights to decorate your living room instead of a tree
- Let your children track Santa’s progress on Noradsanta.org
- Do random acts of kindness, such as visiting an elderly neighbour for a cup of tea
- Attend a carol service