Christmas may seem like the most difficult time of year to watch the pennies. There is so much to do and buy over the festive season that by January 1st many of us are left scratching our heads trying to retrace the final steps of that bonus cheque.
Being from a large family, I’m well used to planning and budgeting ahead, so I’ve compiled a list of my top hints and tricks to try and keep things in perspective and hopefully to help you save money at Christmas, too.
How To Save Money At Christmas Easily
I cannot begin to stress enough how key keeping and updating lists are to helping you save money at Christmas. Even if you’re not playing host or in charge of the food, there are two types of list everybody should have drawn up each Christmas – your Budget and Gift List.
How much do you have to spend on presents?
Who do you need to buy for?
How much are you going to spend on each individual?
Who are you buying for?
What are you buying them?
How much does it cost?
Have you researched the item?
Where can you buy it from, cheapest?
Have you purchased the item yet?
It may seem obvious but many people don’t keep lists! By keeping and updating these two lists you will ensure several things:
1: You will keep track of your spending to ensure you do not go over budget and can keep using your list as a reference point for what you’ve bought, what you’ve spent and what you have left for anything extra you need.
2: You won’t end up buying duplicate presents or overbuying out of forgetfulness, as you will have a definitive list of what you’ve bought, not just a pile of presents under the tree to try and decipher.
3: You won’t forget anyone – how awful is that moment of realisation when you’ve literally bought everyone including the dog a present, but forgotten the chocolates for Granny? Awful carry on.
Personally, I choose to create my lists on excel, because I’m a major admin freak, but also, because it means I can add conditional formatting to highlight those things I still need to do, and formulae to keep updating my budget automatically with every entry. However you choose to do it though, a list will keep your spending and tasks for Christmas on track.
Firstly, is your gift list up to date? Is there someone on there who isn’t buying for you this year or who you aren’t sure you’re seeing?
Communicate with people! When my brother had his children, we decided between our family that gifts for himself and his partner weren’t necessary, and that we would focus our spending on the children in lieu of them.
They actually suggested this and although we do of course buy for them on birthdays, at Christmas we are safe in the knowledge that they are unexpectant and that we will just gift for the children. The same will happen when I have children and so on.
Equally important, is communicating and finding out who you are actually going to be seeing on Christmas Day. If you aren’t seeing family and friends until after Christmas Day itself, you can save massively by buying their gifts on Boxing Day.
Supermarkets, toy shops, department stores etc. normally start their sales on Boxing Day, so by waiting that one extra day (which wont matter as you aren’t seeing them anyway) will mean you can save up to half and sometimes more off the price of the same gifts!
We all head to the same places online when we go to buy a present – but buying from the most convenient place doesn’t always mean the cheapest.
If you buy gifts from the likes of Amazon, don’t forget to check the recommended items from other sellers below the Buy It Now button – more often than not, you will be able to find the same item for £’s cheaper, with delivery in the time frame you require.
Take the time to also check out a few websites that sell the product you are looking for to price compare and ensure you’re not missing out on any deals, sales or offers that might be coming up pre-Christmas.
Often we panic and rush to buy everything on our first shopping trip to get things wrapped up nice and neatly and have it all done, but by doing this miss out on any potential savings.
I often buy my family the tubes of Christmas chocolates and selection packs as bolster gifts. When they first came in to shops, they were the usual 3 for a fiver, which isn’t a bad price, but I’ve seen better. I waited two weeks and low and behold they have been put on offer at Tesco for 5 for 5 – that’s not bad for a tube of chocolates that in some places can cost up to 2.99 each!
In making sure I researched those items, made a plan and grabbed them when they were on offer I saved over a tenner off of those gifts alone.
Supermarkets are often the best places to buy chocolates, biscuits and tins of sweets because they run brilliant multibuys – just make sure you snap the deals up when they are there as promotions change quickly in December.
Book Everything EARLY EARLY EARLY
Whether you’re planning to travel, booking a lunch at a pub or hotel or attending a Christmas event like Winter Wonderland, book early, or at least as soon as your plans are confirmed.
Lots of places offer early bird deals and flights usually haven’t hit ridiculous prices for Christmas in the first quarter of the year, so if you can get in early with your booking you will definitely save a few quid.
Get Ahead Of The Game
If you have the means to, you can save massively by purchasing presents throughout the year. This doesn’t work for many people as financial restrictions/ not knowing what people want that early can hold us back, but if you can it’s a great way to save money.
Cyber Monday and Black Friday and even the Summer sales are great for snapping up bargain presents, but the sales I would look out for are those in the New Year in supermarkets, department stores, sports shops, homeware stores and the likes of Boots in the New Year – anywhere that sells Christmas confectionary, gift sets and decorations, really.
You might not be able to buy main gifts, but you can certainly save big on the stocking fillers, decorations, gift wrap and smaller presents you usually buy each year.
I realised last year, when browsing the sales, that many of the food items they were selling for a third of their original price were actually still in date until January the following year.
Keep an eye on the dates on the things you see – if a tin of chocolates is going to last for over a year, it can sit comfortably in storage and you’ll have saved big on what you’d usually have paid.
Be A Risk-Taker
This is probably a lot of people’s worst nightmare, but from my experience working in supermarkets when I was younger, Christmas Eve can be the BEST time to grab massive savings on Christmas food.
I wouldn’t advise doing this if you are hosting a huge meal, or get anxious at the thought of things not going to plan because it isn’t a guarantee – but for those who are just cooking for their partner or small family it can work out great.
Items like fresh veg, fresh Turkeys and Chickens, Cheeseboards and fresh desserts can end up going dirt cheap on Christmas Eve because the shops have to close for Christmas Day and the sell-by might not reach to Boxing Day.
The best time to grab these bargains will depend on what time your chosen shops shut on Christmas Eve, but for most it’s around 6.30pm – 7pm that the yellow stickers start popping up on items.
Buy Pre-Loved or From Small Businesses
A lot of people have turned to crafting and creating their own small businesses in order to get through lockdown. That means there is a plethora of fantastic handmade products available on the likes of Etsy, from small-sellers who have put their absolute heart and soul into their wares and aren’t charging ridiculous prices for one-off and unique items.
This can be a great alternative to a store-bought item as it shows thought regardless of price, but you’ll also be supporting the people behind the businesses which is priceless.
You could also think outside the box and buy from preloved sites like DePop and EBay. You can pick up some great vintage or nostalgic pieces in great condition for sensible prices.
If you really want to save this year, you could look into creating homemade gifts. Websites like Pinterest are fabulous for gift ideas with a twist that often don’t break the bank.
Make The Most of Free Events
There are always things to do around Christmas time that really don’t have to cost the earth to do. Lots of local towns and councils put together light shows, parades, markets, carol concerts and Christmas trails that are free to attend, so do some research and make the most of what’s on offer near you.
Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
A couple of years ago I found myself completely burnt out before Christmas Day had even come around. With 7 different events to attend in two weeks and three secret santas to partake in, I was toast and left without much to give on Christmas Day.
I adore being around friends, family and colleagues during the festive season, but sometimes you just need to say no. There are only so many of the same seasonal menus you can enjoy, only so many magnums of prosecco that can be drunk and only so many times you can feign excitement at that lame Secret Santa gifting process.
It can all become very costly; entry fees, dinner charges, rounds of drinks, tips, taxis, presents, outfits etc. So don’t be afraid to say no if you want to tighten your belt. Pick and choose the ones you want to attend most or mean the most and go to those. Stick to one secret santa and keep within budget on that, too – most people do.
Do you have any tips on how to save money at Christmas time? Comment below!
Peace & Love