A new poll has revealed that 1 in 7 of us worry about money every single day in the run up to Christmas, and the number of people losing sleep over festive finances has risen from last year. Christmas is certainly an expensive time, and the results of this recent survey by National Debtline show that it can be a real source of worry and stress. Many people spend money over Christmas that they don’t really need to simply due to subconscious habit or a failure to plan ahead. It’s easily done, but also easily improved.
Whether you think you’ve got your festive spending under control or not, these tips may help you to slash the cost of Christmas, and will help you think about where you could be saving money elsewhere.
1. Make your own
If you have children, get them to make decorations for the home using cheap materials like buttons, cardboard, poster paints and twine. Items found in nature like fallen leaves and pine cones can be arranged to create simple, beautiful decorations around the home. Snowflakes can be cut out of paper and stuck to windows, and paper chains are a very cheap way to achieve a retro festive feel. There are plenty of cheap craft ideas out there to help you make Christmas your own and save a pretty penny too.
2. Organise a decoration swap
While some prefer to keep the same decorations year after year, others prefer to mix it up a bit each year. Swap parties have become popular in recent years for clothing, so why not organise a decoration swap in your local community or within your friend group? People can bring along decorations which are no longer wanted and leave with something ‘new’ that fits in with their desired style. Everybody wins!
3. Buy quality after Christmas
Take planning ahead to another level by buying quality decorations that you love in the January sales. This way, you’ll have something new to put up next year, and you can save some serious money on decorations that you’ll want to use again and again. You can make particularly big savings on larger decorations and lights if you wait until this year’s festivities have passed.
4. Delegate the dishes
Christmas dinner tends to be the focal point of the big day, but if you’re having turkey with all the trimmings, as well as preparing dessert, snacks and drinks the costs can really soar. If you are planning to have friends and family members over for Christmas dinner, why not suggest a group effort where food is concerned? Ask each person to bring a pre-prepared dish which can either be served or popped in the oven, and you’ve cut your costs (and time) considerably.
5. Consider habit vs practicality
We all have our favourite Christmas foods which we allow ourselves to indulge in over the festive period. Chocolate selection tins, cheeses, nuts and other nibbles are always in high demand, and many of us buy far too much in anticipation of Christmas day. Many people carry on the food habits picked up in childhood, and may end up buying foods which they don’t really want, but which make Christmas feel like Christmas. Consider this when doing your festive food shop and you’re likely to spend a little less.
6. Check locally for better prices
Whilst the supermarket is a very cost-effective and convenient option during the pre-Christmas rush, checking the prices in your local butchers, greengrocers and farm shop could save you a bit of money, or at least give you more for your budget. Buying your food from local suppliers can also mean better quality, and you’re more likely to get a little extra thrown in as a Christmas treat. What’s more, with most local suppliers you can ask for the exact amount you need, rather than having to overspend on pre-packaged items.
7. Organise a Secret Santa
Although it’s not always admitted out loud, the majority of people would likely be happy to spend less on presents over Christmas for people who aren’t immediate family. When you add friends, colleagues and neighbours to the list, the expenses can spiral out of control. Secret Santa (where a group get together to pick names out of a hat and you only buy for the person you picked) is a universally popular way to save on expense, and many would welcome it as a fun, easy way to cut costs, time and pressure.
8. Opt for refurbished luxury items
For those closest to you, it’s likely you’ll want to spend a little more and get them something special for Christmas. Whether it’s a games console or a diamond ring, expensive, luxury items like this can be purchased for much less if they’re second-hand. As the expense and quality of an item goes up, so does the resale quality; you’ll find items like these in perfect, as-new condition if you know where to look. Here at H&T Pawnbrokers, we have a wide range of quality second-hand jewellery, watches and electronics in great condition at low prices. We have over 180 stores across the country filled with unique items, so why not pop in and see if you could save on gifts this Christmas?
9. Give your time
One of the most thoughtful gifts you can give is the gift of your time. This can be given via something you have made yourself, or in the form of a ‘voucher’ they can use in return for your skills. You could knit them a scarf, make cakes or biscuits to give them along with your recipe. You could give them vouchers for your time babysitting, working on their garden, or doing DIY jobs that need completing around their home. If you have a particular hobby or career that could benefit them if offered for free, such as photography, web design, carpentry - or even plumbing -this is also worth considering. Gifts like this are always well received and will stand out amongst the usual Christmas clutter.