Saving money at Christmas can sometimes be challenging, especially if you have nothing set aside.
According to a survey by Halifax, Brits spend an average of £500 on Christmas, which includes gifts, food, alcohol and socialising. This may of course be a conservative estimate for those of us with large families and lots of friends to cater for.
I’ve put together a list of my top 37 Christmas money-saving ideas that can help you save money this Christmas… even on a stocking-filler budget!
How to Do Christmas Cheap in 37 Simple Ways
So here are 37 simple ways on how to do Christmas cheap and have a merry, magical Christmas… without suffering from a financial hangover.
- Change your mindset about Christmas. Try to see Christmas for what it really is: a season to spend time together. That is priceless. Christmas is also a great time to make extra cash – most companies need extra help to meet the high demands of this season.
- A good way to fund your purchases and save money at Christmas is to sell some of the stuff you already have – so have a root around in your cupboards for anything you can flog on eBay.
- Set aside money throughout the year. It’s a bit late for this tip now, but it’s worth giving it a go next year.
- If you are travelling by train – book NOW. Ticketing website Trainline says that by booking early you can save up to 51% on train travel.
- Make a list (and check it twice!). You need to know what you are buying and who you are buying for – so sit down and make a list.
- The single most important thing you can do to save money this Christmas is to create a realistic budget or spending plan you can stick to. Before you start shopping, decide on how much you can actually afford to spend (not how much you want to spend). From my personal experience, I can tell you this level-headed awareness has many benefits and can make all the difference.
- Check your loyalty cards, such as Tesco Clubcard, Sainsbury’s Nectar or Boots Advantage, and see if you have any points that can be used up.
- Make instead of buying. Consider making your own Christmas pressies this year. Making a gift is often so much more personal and it means a lot more to the person receiving it.
- Remember that you don’t have to buy every gift from the shops. For example, if you’re a GBBO-worthy baker, you could make a batch of Christmas cakes and wrap them in pretty ribbons, or gift someone the promise of a batch of cookies each month of the forthcoming year.
- Get crafty and save yourself a ton of cash by making some homemade gifts for your family and friends. If you want to do something more fancy, Etsy and Pinterest are worth checking out.
- Give yourself at Christmas instead of a present. Give an hour of your time that would be really useful to someone: an hour cleaning, an hour gardening, an hour childminding…
- If your recipient has a favourite charity, consider donating to this charity in his or her name instead of giving a physical gift.
- Experiences are a lot more fulfilling than material possessions. Consider spending your hard-earned money on doing things rather than buying them. Buyagift.co.uk offers an incredible collection of gift experience ideas – from helicopter flying and cookery lessons to supercar driving and pampering days.
- Talk to friends and family about presents. It might seem Scroogey, but why not opt out of buying presents for each other altogether?
- If you have kids, talk to family about gifting the kids savings instead of presents. Simply agree a set amount of money for each child and transfer it to their savings account.
- If you must buy Christmas presents, sticking with ‘Secret Santa’ for the grown-ups can help put money back into your pocket.
- Re-gift unused gifts. If you’re really not going to use a gift that you received, then it makes sense to give it to someone who will love it. Re-gifting may not be for everyone, but it is just a better way to recycle if you think about it.
- Before you start buying your presents, have a look and see if your favourite shops are giving discounts directly on their social media pages, and also check out discount code sites such as VoucherCodes.co.uk and Wowcher to help you save money.
- If you know that you want a specific gift for someone – this year’s must-have gadget or toy, for example – be sure to shop around.
- Do some digital detective work. One of the best ways to save money on Christmas shopping is to spend some time investigating prices and deals online. Sites such as idealo.co.uk will help you compare prices, find the best deal and make informed decisions. Also check out sites such as eBay that frequently have new (or barely used) items at a discounted rate.
- Shop online. Buying online means you can ignore all the twinkly things in the shops and only buy things on your list. Be careful of delivery costs though.
- Use websites that give you cash back when you make your purchases. Websites such as Quidco and TopCashback will let you earn cash back on your purchases, effectively giving you a discount.
- Get clever with your perfumes. According to online reviews, M&S Butterfly perfume is a dead ringer for the much more expensive Marc Jacobs Daisy. You can also get branded, discounted perfumes and aftershaves at up to 75% off the High Street prices from Fragrance Direct.
- When taking the kids out, check out sites such as LittleBird, which offers lots of money-off vouchers for activities such as ice skating or trips to the theatre.
- One of the best ways to save money on Christmas decorations is to make your own. Get the kids involved and give everyone that lovely Christmassy feeling.
- You can get Christmas decorations at low prices from smaller independent retailers and warehouse stores such as christmasdecorationsoutlet.co.uk.
- Budget supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl do wonderful festive food and wine for half the price of the bigger, posher shops.
- Use the Money Saving Expert wine price-tracking site to find some great deals on wine, plus discount vouchers.
- A great way to save money on Christmas dinner is to ask everyone to bring a dish, dessert, and/or a bottle of wine.
- Another great way to enjoy Christmas dinner on a budget is to buy wine with your Tesco Clubcard vouchers, if you have them.
- Cook from scratch and save. Buying pre-prepared dishes is convenient but expensive. Cooking your Christmas dinner from scratch will save you a lot of money.
- Don’t overbuy on cheese as it often doesn’t get eaten. Everyone just needs a taster of each cheese – so choose a small piece each of Cheddar, Stilton and Brie with some nice crackers.
- You can save money on clothes by jazzing up a classic dress you already own with new accessories.
- If you want to buy a new outfit, hit a designer outlet mall where you can bag a chic bargain at a knocked-down price.
- Check out the charity shops too. If more people shopped in charity shops there would be less manufacturing and less damage to the planet.
- If you have relatives living overseas, use an Internet phone provider such as Skype to save money on phone calls abroad.
- One of the best ways to save money on Christmas shopping is to start shopping early and buy throughout the year. You can get the best deals and also escape the last-minute rush. It’s a bit late for this tip now, but it’s worth giving it a go next year.
- While you’re busy preparing and thinking of others, don’t forget to treat yourself too! Why not give yourself an extra-special treat such as a spa day? There are great pampering treatments available at SpaBreaks.com – and if you are on a really tight budget, then you can still go ahead and pamper yourself with our guide on how to create a spa at home.
Other Ways to Have Fun and Save Money at Christmas
- Take a Christmas Eve walk into your local town or village to look at the lights and tree.
- Get a free letter from Santa for the kids – find out more at Royal Mail.
- Go carolling – either with a group from door to door or at a local church or group.
- Get cosy with a hot chocolate and a film. There’ll be plenty on over Christmas.
- Play games with the family – how about Pin the Nose on the Reindeer? It’s even better after a few glasses of bubbly… but beware of the hangover!
There are more creative ways to save money and have a magical Christmas without losing the sparkle. According to Laura Vanderkam, “Smart women figure out what, exactly, makes them happiest. They spend generously on those things but cut out the rest.”
So honour and focus on what’s most important to you this Christmas, and let go of the rest. That might mean creating a memorable experience, taking a spa break to rejuvenate, or giving yourself and your time to your favourite charity, your family and your friends.
What are your top tips for saving money at Christmas?