We all know people out there who have bought and wrapped everything and are already planning what ‘theme’ they should adopt for this year’s Christmas tree. But most of us will be feeling a mounting sense of panic right now.
Everyone knows you can save money at Christmas shopping by shopping wisely, but what about all the other things that come part and parcel with this time of year?
From the new outfit for the Christmas office do, the travel expenses to see family in far flung places to festive activities with the kids. All of that Christmas fun has to be paid for somehow.
Don’t panic – we are here, like a troop of money-saving Elves, to help you create a magical Christmas without breaking the bank or turning into Scrooge.
So take a breath, get yourself a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine and have a read of some of our festive tips to save cash at Christmas.
How to Save Money at Christmas without Breaking the Bank
1. How to Save Money on Travel
If you are going by train – book NOW. Ticketing website Trainline say that by booking early you can save up to 43% on train travel during the Christmas period. You can sign up to their ticketing alert service which tracks rail travel prices.
2. Treat the Kids to a Magical Christmas Day Out
Kids break up a week before Christmas and, on top of everything else, you may be struggling with ideas of what to do with them.
Kids are not fussy and love the magic of Christmas so there are lots of free things you can do – such as taking them for a late night drive to see the lights in town, or baking mince pies with them at home.
However if you want to take them for a day out, many farm parks and theme parks run Christmas events. Check out sites like Little Bird who offer lots of money-off vouchers for ice-skating or trips to the theatre. Or use any leftover Tesco Clubcard vouchers to grab cheap tickets at all the major theme parks.
3. Get 5% Back On Your Shopping Using Cashback Credit Cards
Cashback credit cards pay YOU every time you spend on them. So you can take one out to cover Christmas and earn while you buy for other people.
But remember! Set up a direct debit to cover the full amount every month, or you will be charged interest. Check out some top Christmas cashback cards here.
4. How to Save Money on Phone Calls Abroad
You need to wish great aunty Marjorie in New Zealand and Cousin Herbert in America a Happy Christmas. With standard daytime call rates from a BT phone costing around 20-30p a minute to a landline in the US or New Zealand, spreading festive cheer could be costly.
Our advice is to use an Internet phone provider such as Skype, where if the other person has a smartphone or computer with a stable broadband connection, you can call for free.
If great aunt Marjorie is not connected – a great way to save on phone calls is to use an override provider, which allow you to cut the cost of phone calls without changing your phone line. Check out Planet Talk or Alpha Telecom for more information.
5. Sell Some Stuff
A good way to fund 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.
You may be surprised by how much cash you can raise in a short space of time. It’s also worth stock-piling any unwanted Christmas pressies Santa brings you this year too so you can either pass them on or sell.
6. Being the Perfect (Frugal) Host – How to Throw A Cheaper Party
A great way to save money at Christmas is to ask everyone to bring a dish and/or a bottle of wine. Or just make the party a ‘drinks ‘n nibbles’ affair – it doesn’t have to be lobster and caviar, you can find loads of beautiful (but cheap) appetisers in Aldi, Lidl or Iceland. Remember – people are coming to see you, not the food.
7. Party outfits
A recent survey by money-saving site, NetVoucherCodes found that British women blow an average £370 on a new outfit and a hairdo to look good for the annual office shindig.
You can save money by jazzing up a classic dress you already own with new accessories. Or, 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 outlet-malls to find one near you.
8. Cut the Alcohol Bill
The booze flows at Christmas and those who are hosting may find they spend more on the alcohol than the food. Nowadays you can find some excellent wines in budget supermarkets such as Aldi or Lidl.
Use the wine price-tracking site Quaffers Offers to find some great deals on wine and discount vouchers.
9. How to Save Money on Decorations
Your decorations may be from the 1980s and starting to look a bit tired. One of the best ways to save at Christmas is to make your own. You can find hundreds of crafting ideas here. It’s also a great way to get the kids involved and give everyone that lovely Christmassy feeling.
If you aren’t very crafty or don’t have the time, shop around for cheap decorations. The supermarkets are currently battling it out to get a sale on decorations so there’s already lots on offer.
Also, smaller independent retailers and warehouse stores such as christmasdecorationsoutlet.co.uk have decorations at low prices.
10. And finally….Pamper yourself!
You have been rushing around the shops, have a thousand paper cuts from wrapping and are already sick of mince pies.
Why not sneak away from the chaos for a spa day? SpaBreaks have some great offers on pampering treatments this time of year. After all the Christmas madness, you deserve it.
And if you your budget is still tight, then go ahead and pamper yourself with a spa day at home.
Over to you
Have you got any tips to on how to save money at Christmas to help people on a tight budget get through the madness of the festive season? Let us know in the comment box below – we’d love to hear from you!