How to Enjoy Christmas on a Budget
Christmas really is a wonderful time of the year, but it is usually quite expensive as well. Not everyone will be able to keep up with the costs of Christmas gifts and wrappings, decorations, party clothes, and travel – not to mention all the food and drink. Budgeting is always a wise idea, because Christmas doesn’t have to be a blowout to be special. It is possible to enjoy Christmas on a budget and have everything you need without overspending. Here are 8 tips on how to create the best Christmas on a budget will help you to save money.
1) Plan Your Christmas Budget in Advance
Although intensive planning might be less fun than the partying, preparing for Christmas as far in advance as possible will make everything easier. If you start saving early in the year, putting aside a small amount regularly will add up so that you have a Christmas fund ready to spend when you need it. Figure out how much you can spare, work out how much you want to spend on Christmas, and then stick to your plan. It is easier to stay organised if you make shopping lists to check off gifts and make sure that you get everything you’ll need. You could also agree on a budget for presents with family and friends and set spending limits.
2) Take Advantage of Sales All Year Round
Many people prefer to wait for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail sales to save money and stock up on cheaper Christmas gifts. However, this is getting closer to Christmas, and you might not have a lump of money available to spend all at once. A more affordable way to do it is to shop in sales throughout the year. January sales, Easter sales, end-of-summer sales – there are lots of opportunities to save money through the year. Check discount websites for voucher codes, or join bargain hunting groups on Facebook. Keep track of everything with lists (or even a spreadsheet!) and store them in a hidden safe place like a cupboard or box.
3) Make Some Extra Money for Christmas
You might find that you have old technological devices lying forgotten in a drawer, or your wardrobe might be overflowing with clothes you rarely wear. An excellent way to earn some extra cash for Christmas is to sell off what you don’t need. Look around your home and gather anything that you no longer use or want. This includes shoes, jewellery, furniture, books, DVDs, CDs, toys, sports equipment, or kitchen appliances. List them for sale online on marketplace websites such as eBay, Depop, Gumtree, or Vivastreet. You could clear space in your home, improve your festive finances, and help someone else with a budget Christmas.
4) Shop Secondhand & Buy Pre-Loved Presents
There’s no shame in buying second-hand goods. In these environmentally conscious times, it’s actually a more sustainable way of living. If you think of items as being “pre-loved” rather than “pre-owned” it adds character and value. You won’t have to deal with all the packaging on new products and you get more for less money. Look in charity shops for bargains on toys and books, or look online on eBay and Depop for clothes and beauty products. You can often find good-as-new or even never-used items for a discounted price. It is likely that people will sell good-quality unwanted items to make money for their own shopping.
5) Make Your Own Creative Christmas Gifts
If you really need to scrimp and save, making your own Christmas gifts could cut the costs down a lot. It can be a joyful experience to get creative in your Christmas prep, especially if you get to exercise skills relating to a hobby of yours such as knitting or baking. Home-made presents are often appreciated because of the care that goes into creating them, as opposed to just purchasing something from the shop. Think about what the recipient likes and personalise each gift with love. Here are some ideas for handmade Christmas presents:
- knit a scarf/hat/blanket
- sew or crochet an item of clothing
- create embroidery hoop art for their favourite song or film
- bake cookies/cakes/cake pops
- make chocolates/truffles/fudge
- create a “recipe in a jar” mix
- make a jar of jam or chutney
- grow a plant in a novelty pot
- make a scrapbook with photos and stories
- frame a special photograph
You could also make your own Christmas hamper with homemade gifts. If money is very tight then you can even mix in essential practical gifts like socks, nightwear, toothbrushes, bath products, or school supplies.
6) Make Your Own Christmas Decorations
You don’t have to spend a fortune on Christmas decorations to make your home feel festive. Pound shops and bargain stores can offer great-looking Christmas decorations for indoors and outdoors without putting a massive dent in your bank account. A festive wreath on the front door is effective enough without having to deck your house in lights. Save on energy bills with LED fairy lights inside your home and always switch them off if nobody is in. Save and reuse decorations from previous years as much as possible. If you want a different look this year, then make your own. Here are some ideas for homemade Christmas decorations:
- fairy lights in glass jars
- salt dough ornaments
- Christmas paper chains
- silver tin foil stars
- origami Christmas ornaments
- snowflakes (paper, foil, lolly sticks)
- styrofoam snow/snowballs
- pine cones and pine boughs
- newspaper as recyclable wrapping
- add glitter or dried fruit to candle jars
If you have kids, making Christmas decorations together can be a fun bonding experience. Making your own special ornaments to bring out every year can help to form family traditions and save money in the future.
7) Participate in Free Christmas Activities
You don’t have to spend lots of money to give your family a full festive experience. Most towns will have a Christmas lights switch-on ceremony that is free for anyone to attend, and many shopping centres will have a free Santa’s Grotto for children to visit. There may be other community events like a carol-singing service or a Christmas market, so check your local newspaper. Check the listings for when Christmas films are on TV and record them for a festive family movie night. Christmas baking and making your own decorations and gift wrapping is another cheap way to get into the festive spirit without even having to leave your house.
8) Put Together a Budget Christmas Dinner
One of the most important parts of Christmas, arguably the main event of the day itself, is the big Christmas dinner. It is far too easy to go overboard trying to provide a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, a variety of Christmas desserts, plus a range of snacks and selection boxes. The truth is, you don’t need to serve up a 3-course meal or overspend on excessive food to have a festive feast. If you need to spread out the cost over several weeks, you can stock up on the non-perishable items like frozen food and tins in advance. You can save money by purchasing frozen vegetables and puddings which will taste just as good as fresh as long as you prepare them properly. Downsizing the turkey to a roast chicken and increasing the cheaper side dishes can also make it seem like you have more while actually paying less for it. You also don’t have to buy brand-name products when own-brand can be just as good for a fraction of the price. Shops like Aldi and Lidl offer great quality Christmas food and supermarkets like Iceland, Tesco, Morrisons, and Asda offer cheap frozen party food ranges. One of the most expensive aspects of Christmas is all the alcohol – but you don’t actually need it. If you absolutely can’t have a sober Christmas, then look for special offers and bulk-buy booze. You can ask family members to each bring an item if you are hosting the Christmas dinner party to make it fair.