It may be April but I’m going to mention the ‘C’ word (no not that one!) Have you figured out a budget for next Christmas yet?
It’s Spring and I’m talking about Christmas. Again. And you probably think I’m nuts. ‘It’s sunny!’ you say. ‘We don’t want to think about winter, and snow and… and…Christmas’. But you should be. The longer you give yourself to save, plan and source bargains the easier Christmas should be on your wallet. Often the reason people struggle financially in November and December is lack of planning. There are quite a few ways you combat this even if you are someone who usually struggles to put money aside for Christmas.
I thought long and hard about my budget for this year and think I can buy for everyone for under £100. I would like to make to make it clear at this point that I don’t have any kids of my own but do have four children to buy for; My 12 year old brother, my best friends little boy aged 6 and twin nieces aged 2 as well as the usual Mums and Dads, Grandparents and friends.
I have already spent around half of my budget as I picked up quite a bit in the January sales. I think I need to go through my cupboard and work out what else I need to get!
Getting Gifts for Free
One of the biggest ways I save on Christmas gifts is by sourcing as many gifts as I can for free. This can be anything from re-gifting things I don’t like or don’t need (I advise sticking a post-it note with who gave it to you to avoid any embarrassment) to upcycling furniture I’ve got for free from on Freecycle to making hampers from freebies from the shopping apps.
Last year I made this chocoholics hamper for under £3 – it could easily have been split into three our four smaller hampers though – or just made from items I got for free which included the selection pack, mince pies and dairy milk chocolate. I also made a coffee hamper using fancy coffee I’d got for free from the apps – I just added a £1 mug.
I also like to take advantage of free spends on various websites. Sometimes you have pay postage, sometimes you don’t. I was recently able to order a book and some tea-towels from Ideal World for just 98p. Pictured below are some freebies I got from The Bodyshop and have put away for next Christmas. One was of them was from using the O2 app and the other from a free voucher in the Daily Mail Newspaper.
Making the most of Nectar Points
The most expensive gift I have to buy each year is for my younger brother. He’s only 13 and we are really close so I try to get him something he really wants – which is usually an Xbox one game as he’s a gaming nut. Instead of letting this take out almost half of my budget, I save up my Nectar points and then buy him a game in the ‘Double Up’ event, usually towards the end of November. Last year I was able to buy his game and only have to put £10 towards it. Although I don’t spend much on shopping each month, I accumulate nectar points buying fuel and having my nectar card linked to my eBay account. Boots points are great too – I usually use mine in the sales after Christmas but using them on the 3 for 2 Christmas gifts is a good idea too. You can find my full post about Loyalty Points here
Remember gifts don’t have to cost a lot to be appreciated
It can be so easy to fall into the trap of thinking we need to spend X amount on each person. £20 on each Niece or Nephew, for example or £10 each on cousins. If you have sourced a gift that is perfect for someone the it doesn’t matter how much it cost – whether it was free, 50p from a charity shop or £40 from Boots they should appreciate the effort you have gone too to find them something they will love. It can also be easy to buy little ‘extra’ top up gifts that aren’t really needed. Buy a gift and stick to it!
I’ve actually spent just 75p each on some people for this Christmas – they have lovely gifts so I’m trying hard to resist the urge to buy something else to go with it. If I can source some free chocolate in the run up to Christmas I might just add that.
Buy one stocking filler each week
Buying all your stocking fillers in December can end up costing a fortune on top of everything else. Start stockpiling them now, even if it’s the only thing you do for Christmas. Buying them all in December usually leads to panic buying and spending much more than is needed. Stocking fillers like toiletries and make-up can easily be popped in with the weekly shop. Gifts for younger children such as toy cars and books are also readily available in most supermarkets, just make sure you have a good hiding place!
Have you set a budget for this Christmas yet?