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Christmas has officially started for me! My Christmas shopping has started and I’m already stockpiling food for the big day. The other day I spent most of the morning singing Mistletoe and Wine.
As much as I love Christmas, the thought of it does make me sweat a little. It’s a lot of expenditure crammed into a very short period of time and that is not my default state. However, I do enjoy ensuring that with have a frugal Christmas, that has all the same fun and happiness without the overwhelming credit card bill in January.
There are many ways to keep the costs down at Christmas and I have tried several with varying success. For me, there are a few strategies that give me good results. Here are my top tips for a very merry frugal Christmas:
Since becoming a parent, most of my friends have started becoming parents too. Before we had kids we would buy several of our friends gifts for Christmas and we really enjoyed it. But as our families have grown, so has the pressure on our Christmas budgets too.
A year or so ago I agreed with my sister that we would only do token gifts for each other at Christmas. This really helped our finances and took the pressure off hunting for the perfect gift. We just kept our money and spent it on ourselves.
This year I spoke to my friends with small children and either agreed to just do presents for the kids or not to bother at all. For many of us this means that we have more money to spend on our own family needs rather than conforming to the pressure of gift giving at Christmas.
A couple of years ago, when I was on maternity leave with my first, I had a bit of a brainwave about Christmas gifts. For the kids that I had to buy for, I decided to bulk buy smaller gifts and package them up into a stocking.
This was such an excellent way to make beautiful gifts but at a low cost. When bought individually the items were both expensive and insubstantial. But when bought in bulk and put together they looked really sweet and came in under budget.
I’m thinking of extending this idea to family members this year. My plan is to get the kids on board to make a selection of special treats that we will package together and decorate beautifully. These will then be the gifts that my children give to their grandparents and teachers.
The temptation at this time of year is get dressed up and head out for food and drinks. However, the bill for this can soon mount up. Particularly if you get invited to several of these.
As a teacher, my employer is never going to be one of these places that covers the cost of the work do. Therefore, when we arrange our staff meal we do so knowing that the full cost of the night is on us. I don’t object to paying for this. It is one of my favourite things to do over the festive period.
But with a frugal Christmas in mind, there are other options. We really like to catch up with as many friends as possible. We don’t want to pay for a full meal out each time. Therefore, it is much cheaper to arrange a catch up round our house, light some candles, play some classic Christmas tunes and crack out the mulled wine and mince pies.
You could do this every night for the week leading up to Christmas and in total it would still cost you less than one meal out. If meeting with several friends you could all arrange to bring something and have a lovely festive buffet.
When it comes to choosing gifts for my children and I’m moving further and further away from the idea of buying them more stuff. My house already feels like there is too much stuff in it so I really don’t want more.
I’ve talked before about how my children don’t need too many toys. With Christmas shopping on the agenda I find myself struggling with what to actually buy them. This is when I decide to opt for experiences.
This may seem like it does not actually save you any money but in reality it does. Last year I asked family members to contribute towards my children’s swimming lessons. This saved us loads of money and the children had a great time and learnt a new skill.
On this year’s Christmas list, there are season passes for local attractions and tickets for various things happening nearby. These gifts will mean that my family is entertained without me being out of pocket. I’ll be able to enjoy these trips out with my children too, and go super frugal by taking our own picnic and snacks.
If you can’t craft at Christmas when can you? And if you aren’t crafting, then I’m not sure that you are living the full frugal Christmas experience. I’m joking! But it is a great way to save a few pennies.
At Christmas time I like to make my own cards, gifts, gift wrap, gift bags, name tags, table decorations, baubles and all sorts. If I do this then I can make really nice, unique items that make Christmas special. Plus the way that I really get my money’s worth out of these items is by getting the kids involved.
I like to set up my crafts so that the kids can join in. This means that we get several mornings of activities (read: “mess”) and at the end we get all these lovely things to give to our family and friends. It’s win-win!
I was in Sainsbury’s the other day and received a coupon giving me £18 off my first online shop. I like buying Sainsbury’s food at Christmas because they have an excellent range of gluten free items. I decided to make the most of this voucher by ordering my Christmas food stuffs early.
There are many items that you can buy in advance of Christmas and store either in the cupboard or freeze. Things like biscuits and Christmas pudding will last forever so you can take advantage of any offers that come your way now.
Last time I hosted Christmas, I start buying a couple of Christmas party food items with my usual shop and popped these in the freezer. I barely noticed the additional cost each week and come the big day I had a lovely selection of food.
In addition to this, now is a great time to use any loyalty points you might have. Why pay for your food shop when you spend Nectar points instead eh?
You’ve heard from me but I’d love to take further inspiration from you. Let me know what you’ve been up to. Or, like me, you can link up with Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.
Disclaimer: Remember the information you read here does not represent advice. Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you. Read the full disclaimer here.
Looking After Your Pennies is an eco-friendly personal finance blog written and managed by Charlotte Jessop.
I write on a variety of topics including frugal lifestyle, eco-friendly living, money making ideas and generally how to make your money go further.