The festive path is paved with pricey pitfalls. Here’s Becky, our straight-talking finance expert, with advice on keeping a lid on the cost while maxing the fun.
1. Price match
Compare prices online, find it cheaper and claim a price match. All the big retailers (including Kiddicare!) offer a no-silly-business price match guarantee these days. The maths make sense!
2. Share the cost of Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner can be a pricey old business. Swinging an invite is the most cost effective route(!) or if you’ve got your heart set on hosting, ask for contributions.
3. Fake it
I‘ve always liked real Christmas trees, particularly that lovely smell, but they’re pricey each year and frankly a fragrant pine candle works just as well! There are some really good looking artificial trees available now and it’s a one-off expense that will last many years. Alternatively decorate a house plant or an evergreen branch.
4. Save on stamps
A photo e-card or photo email is a great idea at Christmas. It’s still personal but you save on postage – and trees.
5. Gift tags
Turn last year’s cards into gift tags. Simple but very effective.
6. Write a list
Have a clear list of who to buy for and what you can afford to spend. Start early and bag bargains as you seen them, then firmly cross them off the list. When you get a bargain don’t feel you have to buy more. You don’t!
7. Small is beautiful
Books make great presents and can often be bought inexpensively – especially if you snap them up second hand. And don’t underestimate the thrill of cheaper toys such as balls, skipping ropes, reams of paper and new felt tips: traditional gifts that bring hours of pleasure.
8. Get creative
Consider homemade presents for friends. A pot of bulbs, a tin of homemade shortbread, a hamper filled with yummy goodies… thoughtful gifts that show you’ve really made an effort.
Why not give your partner a book of vouchers to trade in for lie ins, breakfast in bed, massage or their favourite dinner? Cost free but really thoughtful.
10. Start as you mean to go on
Be clear from the start that you will do birthdays instead of Christmas to prevent something starting that will go on for years and potentially spiral out of control!
11. Keep it real with free and festive traditions
Many things make Christmas special – not just the expensive things:
• A walk and hot chocolate with friends on Boxing Day morning
• Attending a nativity play at your local church
• Giving 3 pre-loved toys to your local homeless shelter
• Reading the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve
• Taking Christmas tree cookies to the neighbours
• Making Reindeer food for Rudolph.
12. Trade in your loyalty points
Been diligently saving your points at your favourite retailers? Now’s the time to cash them in for up to four times the value.
13. Shop on Christmas Eve
Not for the faint hearted(!) but if you can bear to leave it til the last minute, you can bag some serious bargains on the 24th December. Hit the shops early though!
14. Swap games
You don’t need to buy pricey board games for after Christmas dinner. Swap them with friends before the big day. Pictionary anyone?!
15. Make your own wrapping paper
Stock up on rolls of plain brown paper and get the kids to work wonders with stencils or potato stampers.
I wish you all a happy and affordable Christmas!
Becky Goddard-Hill is the author of How To Afford Time Off With Your Baby and multi-tasking mum blogger who writes about bringing up children on a budget. Read her previous posts and check out her excellent Baby Budgeting blog.