God rest ye merry overdraft
I’ve nothing left to spend
And can’t afford to buy enough
For every single friend
Our savings are completely gone
Oh god when will this end
Why must we do this ev’ry year
Why must we do this ev’ry year
That’s right, its that time of year again when we all spend far too much on Christmas presents and festivities, only to struggle through January grasping for that first wage packet. But worry not, I’ve put together some of my favourite ideas for helping you cut the cost at Christmas, without losing the magic and fun.
Saving Money with Children
Think back to your childhood Christmases, I bet what you remember the most aren’t the presents you received, but the magic and wonder of it all; sparkling lights draped on the houses, decorating the tree, snuggling up with hot chocolate, and stories of Jolly Old St. Nick and his flying reindeer. So why not save money by buying the kids less presents but amp up the magic instead?
Simple little details like these will put beaming smiles on their faces:
- Leave something heavy on the sofa for a few hours until a dent forms in the chair, and you’ve created evidence of Santa ‘having a rest’ while enjoying his mince pie and milk.
- Grab a pair of shoes and create ‘snowy footprints’ by shaking flour around the shoes onto the floor to show some of Santa’s journey through the house.
- Even something as tiny as leaving a jingle bell (fallen from Santa’s sleigh) outside in the garden for your children to ‘discover’, can be enough to fill them with joy.
When it comes to the presents themselves, don’t give Santa credit for the expensive gifts like electronic devices. Anything that costs a substantial amount of money should always be from Mum or Dad just in case your budget is too tight, and the children think they’ve not been ‘good’ enough to get everything they asked Santa for. Give the big man credit for the little things like socks, scarves, and stationary etc.
A lovely sentiment at Christmas could be to teach the kids the joys of giving; get them to gather all the toys they don’t want anymore or that they don’t play with and put them all in a huge sack. Add a label, addressed to Santa, telling him that they are “toys for other good boys and girls”. Once Christmas day arrives, the sack will be gone (donated to charities who request toys for less fortunate children), and Santa could even leave the children a letter of thanks for their generosity.
Don’t Feel Obligated
Christmas is a time of giving and sharing, but that all seems to come with the idea that we are obligated to buy for everyone who buys for us. That doesn’t have to be the case! People are more understanding than we think when it comes to spending at Christmas – in fact most people will be relieved to hear that they can save money by not needing to buy that extra gift.
It may sound surprising but you shouldn’t feel like you have to buy for every single member of your extended family; when you buy for all the nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins etc. it all racks up pretty quickly and before you know it you’re staring at an empty bank account. Just tell them that you are keeping Christmas low-key and will only be buying for immediate family.
A similar thing goes for neighbours. Chances are they probably wont keep that card you posted through their door and it’ll be in the bin by new years and, even if you’re close friends with any of your neighbours, there is no rule that says you must buy them something for Christmas.
As for friends, try making a pact with them to not buy each other presents this year or set a strict £5 spending limit and try and find the wackiest novelty gag presents, and give them the gift of laughter for Christmas! Who doesn’t love a good giggle with their bestie?
If you’re really struggling, why not have a go at my favourite money saving method: MAKE SOMETHING. Do you knit, whittle, make pottery? Then use your hobbies as a means of showing your love for someone with the effort you’ve put into a personalised or unique gift! Not very crafty? Why not type up all your favourite memories with your friend, your sister, or your mum, and frame it as a lovely sentimental present that will make them smile every day.
The Simple Moneysaving Things You May Have Forgotten
With all the stress around Christmas, it’s easy to forget the simple ways of saving money so, to jog your memory a little, I’ve put together a list of small ways to beat the high cost of the holiday:
- Remember that toy your child was given that was never taken out of the box? Or that lovely stationary set that has remained untouched for a year? Why not regift it to someone else? Just make sure you’re not giving it back to the person who gave it to you in the first place.
- There are so many deals online, so don’t forget to check out clothing websites for online exclusives, or eBay and Amazon for cheaper prices on good quality gifts.
- If you’re looking for a festive evening out with your loved ones then try looking online for cities turning on their Christmas lights, or find that one street that always covers their houses in lights and walk around marvelling at their extravagance.
- And an oldie but goodie: give yourself a budget and make an old-fashioned list of all the gifts and their prices. Then simply stick to the list.
Get Ready for Next Christmas Early
Give yourself an easier Christmas by preparing early. We all know that one person who buys presents throughout the year whenever they see something that’s perfect for someone else, right? We raise our eyebrows at them, but they are actually the wisest of us all! Just think of a Christmas where your only task will be wrapping up the presents or just popping them under the tree. Give it a go for next year!
You can also get a head start for next year by taking full advantage of the January sales; go out and buy your new artificial tree, decorations, wrapping paper etc. while their prices are slashed and you’ll have a few less things to stress about in December.
And finally, if you tend to travel by train or coach around Christmas time to be with family, you can set up email alerts on transport websites to ensure you’re one of the first to know when the cheap tickets are available for advanced bookings. You can be sat comfortably in your seat while others frantically crowded around the ticket machines buying last minute tickets.
I hope these suggestions help to make this holiday less stressful and I wish you all a wonderful, money saving Christmas!
Do you have any ways you like to save money at Christmas? Let us know!