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Christmas can easily become the most expensive time of the year, but there are plenty of ways to make your pennies and pounds go further in the run-up to the festive season. In this post, I am going to share my tips for being extra thrifty over the Christmas period so you’ll be quids in by January 1st.
1. Start a Gift Amnesty
Others may not like it but tough. And I’m not talking about not buying for your kids, or even family kids – this is more about agreeing not to continue the exchange of smellies/socks/chocolates between adult aunts, uncles and cousins.
2. Failing that try a Super Stingy Secret Santa
Secret Santa can dramatically reduce costs – but they can quickly add up again when people say like ‘it’s only one gift – let’s spend £40 each!’ Super Stingy Secret Santa means agreeing to a really low amount – preferably under a fiver. Add extra fun with rules such as ‘Gift must start with the first letter of the person’s name’ or ‘Gifts can only be bought second hand’
3. Buy Veggies in Bulk While They Are Cheap
There is often a bit of a price war in the run-up to Christmas on the key festive vegetables – usually Brussels Sprouts, Carrots and Parsnips. These are often as cheap as 10p a bag – if you love your veggies it’s worth stocking up and freezing or turning into soup. Here’s how to prep them for the freezer.
4. Look Out for Free Veggies Post Christmas
Often Supermarkets over-stock on vegetables in the run-up to Christmas and many give them away for free between Christmas and New Year. Grab a few bags and prep and freeze to help see you through January.
5. Do a Christmas Eve/New Years Eve Reduced Shop
Most supermarkets shut on Christmas Day and New Years day so Christmas Eve and New Years even are the perfect time to head out and do a massive reduced shop. If there are specific items required I would suggest not leaving these to last minute – but if you’re just after some bargains then this is the perfect time to find some. Remember to check store opening times as shops often close earlier.
6. Make The Most of Your Leftovers
The average family spends £174 a year just on food for Christmas day. Make sure none of that goes to waste by cooling and storing food correctly after it’s been cooked and popping in the freezer if it won’t be used straight away. See this post for 40+ recipes to use up your Christmas leftovers.
7. Turn Down The Central Heating
If you have a house-full this Christmas try turning your heating down a couple of degrees. It should help counteract all the extra fuel used for cooking Christmas dinner and with all the extra people around it shouldn’t get cold enough that anyone will notice.
8. Ditch The Brands For Some Awesome Dupes
Branded isn’t always best – and very rarely is it cheaper. Dupes can be found on almost everything – from this Jo Malone Candle to Lindt Chocolates – Poundland actually does a pretty good alternative which is 75% cheaper than the real thing.
9. Raid Charity Shops for Gifts
There’s nothing wrong with buying gifts second hand – especially if you can find items that are brand new with tags. I recently picked up a lovely winter scarf, tags still attached and showing an RRP of £12.99 for £3. If someone had given it to me as a gift I would have no idea it hadn’t come straight from New Look.
10. Buy Generic Wrapping Paper and Gift Bags
I always save wrapping paper and gift bags to re-use, but if you do need to buy try going for something generic that could then be used later in the year for a birthday or Christening. Even better try using brown paper and stamping with Christmas Pattern – it’s much more environmentally friendly as most normal wrapping paper can’t be recycled.
I also try to buy gift bags in red or gold foil but without a Christmas pattern on so, they can be re-used if I don’t end up using them at Christmas.
11. Hide The Good Stuff
Sounds mean – but probably isn’t if you’re trying to be extra thrifty. If you have a lot of guests this Christmas that’ll be using things like hand-wash in the bathroom switch to a basic brand for a few days over the festive period. Similarly, I’m a massive fan of posh chocolate – there’s no way I’d be getting it out in front of guests or kids!
12. Recycle old Christmas Cards
This is one of my favourite ways to be extra thrifty at Christmas. I always save last years Christmas cards to reuse as labels for this year’s gifts. Cutting out gift labels was something I would love doing at Christmas as a kid so it can be a fun family activity. Don’t forget to put away this year’s cards to use next year.
13. Buy Discounted Gift Cards for Double Savings
If you plan to spend a large amount of money in one store, in particular, it might be worth buying a discounted gift voucher from somewhere like Card Yard.
For example – if you plan to do your big Christmas Shop at Sainsbury’s it’s worth checking to see if they have any discounted gifts cards. Discounts are around 10% so a £100 gift card would cost £90 saving you £10.
14. Ditch Products You Don’t Need
15. DIY Decorations
Making your own decorations doesn’t have to be anything fancy – it can be as simple as paper chains, paper snowflakes and salt dough Christmas Tree Decorations. Head outside and look for pinecones, mistletoe and holly for some simple but free Christmas trimmings
16. Be A Last Minute Larry
I know there’s that joke about men leaving it until Christmas Eve to do their Christmas shopping, but they might actually be on to something when it comes to saving money. Recent years have seen massive trends for shops reducing the price of items way before the Boxing Day and New Year Sales. If you can bear to leave it right until the last minute, then you might just save yourself a fortune.
17. Bake On A Budget
While ‘Stir Up Sunday’ was a few weeks ago, that doesn’t mean all Christmas baking has to go out of the window. It, does, however, need to be on a budget. When adding up the cost of ingredients, fancy gadgets and fuel for cooking, baking can very quickly become an expensive hobby. Use these tips for baking on a budget and try some cheap as chips recipes such as this one from Thrifty Lesley.
18. Find Free Family Activities
With loads of money going on gifts and food finding plenty of free things to over the Christmas period is a must for many families.
My Favourites include:
- Watching the Local Christmas Lights get switched on (in my hometown this is accompanied by ‘Squibbing’ a type of fireworks so it’s extra fun and extra thrifty – no entry fee like a normal fireworks display)
- Finding the best lit-up houses in the local area – this could be by car or on foot.
- Snuggling up and watching a Christmas Movie together (Christmas is the perfect time for a free trial of Netflix or Prime if you don’t already have it. You can cancel once your free trial is up)
- Collecting Pinecones and Mistletoe to decorate the house with
19. Board Games? There’s no need to buy new
We love a good board game at Christmas and like to add something new to our collection each year. Board games can be mega expensive though, with the average price being around £20 unless they are on offer. Charity shops are great for finding board games on a budget and there’s no need to worry about missing pieces as they will have been thoroughly checked before going on sale.
20. Don’t Buy Food No-one Will Eat
While I bloody love Christmas and food there are a lot of traditional foods I really cannot stand and I’m sure lots of other people are the same. It’s all very well buying certain foods because they’re ‘traditional’ but are you really sure they’ll get eaten?
The foods in question will likely vary from household to household (for us it’s fruitcake, Christmas pudding and mince pies – I hate dried fruit, can you tell!) for others it might nuts in their shells, yule logs or even a bottle of Aadvocat that ends up lurking at the back of the cupboard until Easter (wouldn’t happen in my house, Snowballs are my favourite!)
21. Re-gifting – Right or Wrong?
The subject of re-gifting can sometimes be a controversial one. Some say it can look like you didn’t appreciate what you were given or are being ungrateful. On the other hand, what’s the point in keeping smellies you won’t use because they irritate your skin or ending up with a cupboard full of toys you know you’re children won’t play with? Whether you choose to resell on eBay for some extra cash or regift next year just be sure the giver the doesn’t accidentally get it back – a quick post-it note with their name on stuck to the gift can help avoid this.
If you feel bad re-gifting you could always donate to charity instead.
Faith Archer over at Much More With Less has a fab post on this subject, last Christmas she actually went on live T.V and debated it with an actual royal Butler, so she really knows her stuff – 11 Reasons Why Regifting Is Great
22. Don’t Feel ‘Below Budget Guilt’
When Christmas shopping I’m sure most of us have a rough budget or amount we’d like to spend in mind for those we are buying for. What I want to remind people of is that it’s perfectly okay to spend less than that budget and not need to spend any more on top.
This year I had a budget of £5 for someone I needed to buy for. I got them two books from Poundland. Both perfect for them and with an RRP of £12.98. But I still felt guilty about not spending more – even though I shouldn’t. They will love the books and will have no idea how much they cost. I think it’s really easy to feel we need to buy ‘top up’ gifts even when we don’t actually need to spend any more money.
23. Buy Next Years Advent Calendars in The January Sales
For this one, I’m not talking about the more traditional chocolate variety, but the ever-increasing range of Lego/Make-up/Gin versions that seem to be the in thing in recent years. All of the above will keep perfectly for next year so if the cost of this year’s playmobile calendar is making your eyes water, snag one from mid-December onwards and stash it away for next year.
24. Be Extra Thrifty With Gifting
One thing I love to do is be extra thrifty with any gifts I’m buying or making in the run-up to Christmas. Using shopping apps is a great way to do this – back in 2016 I made this awesome Christmas hamper for my Dad for under £3
There have been plenty of similar offers in the last few weeks on apps such as Shopmium and Checkoutsmart including half-price posh popcorn, free snack size Butterkist and free chocolate. Perfect for making or topping up hampers. And there’s no need to spend a fortune on hamper boxes/baskets either – Poundland does some fab wooden trays and boxes for just £1 – plus this year they have some lovely cardboard party food containers which would make lovely gift boxes too.
25. Make Something With All Those Extra Receipts
Even if you’ve been extra thrifty this Christmas, you still may be left with a pile of extra receipts. Don’t let them go to waste – there are loads of apps that pay you to upload them. First, it’s worth checking apps like Shopmium and GreenJinn to see if any of the products you’ve bought have any cashback. Then upload to apps such as Receipt Hog and snap my eats. None of these are going to make you rich, but when you’re being extra thrifty every penny counts – especially for something that would have ordinarily gone in the bin.
If you’re looking to be more Eco-Friendly this Christmas, as well as extra thrifty, see this post: 21 Ways to reduce your consumption this Christmas