Christmas Money Tips 'Yule' Love

Wednesday 13 December 2017, 05:54 PM

Sam Barratt
Financial Journalist , Freelance

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year but it can be the most expensive time too.

This year the average Brit is set to spend a whopping £1,551 on Christmas according to research by American Express.  

This includes £341 on presents, £75 on the Christmas day food, £80 on festive get-togethers, £69 on new clothes and £36 on decorations.  If those sort of figures take the ho ho ho out of the holidays, there are plenty of ways to reduce the cost of the festivities without going all bah humbug. 

Plan, plan, plan
The key to keeping costs under control is to plan in advance. Set yourself a budget for everything from the food to the presents and stick to it. It also helps to write down what you're going to buy as this removes the temptation to overspend.   

There are plenty of ways to economise on the presents, especially if you plan in advance. Vouchers and offers can help you net gifts for less and it's also worth keeping an eye on auction sites such as eBay. 

Secret Santa can work well for older members of the family. Rather than buy something for everyone, buy one person a larger gift. This saves money and time in the run up to Christmas. 
An alternative approach could be agreeing a really low present budget, such as £5 per person, and seeing how creative you can be. With a bit of imagination it's amazing what you can get in the charity and pound shops and Christmas fayres. 

Make it
Whether you're a budding Michelangelo or a bit more Picasso in your creative approach, making stuff can really help take the pressure off your budget. 

Everyone loves a handmade Christmas card, especially if you get the kids to do it, and a quick internet search will find you some beautiful and unique decorations you can make yourself. Chances are your parents or grandparents still have a toilet roll or cardboard star covered in glitter that you made in reception. 

Gifts can also tap into your creative skills. If you're a whizz in the kitchen, knock up some pots of chutney, a nice bottle or six of sloe gin or even put together a cake in a jar kit. Happy to knit or get out the sewing machine? Knock them up some winter woollies, a soft toy or a mobile phone case. Homemade photo collages and recipes books can also work well.      

Get together 
If you're getting together with friends or family over Christmas, make sure you spread the cost - and the work - between you. 

Take the main event, the Christmas meal, as an example. One person can take care of the turkey, another the veggies, a third the pudding, a fourth the crackers, a fifth the cheese and so on. That way, it's a fun day with no one flaking out in the kitchen or financially.

A similar approach can be taken for the entertainment over the holidays, with each person coming up with something to keep everyone amused. This could be a game, a walk or even a film that you all have to sit and watch.

Experiences not things
Kick back against the commerciality of Christmas by making it all about experiences rather than spending. This takes the pressure off your bank balance but, as memories often last longer than any gift, it'll make the festivities extra special. 

Simply think about what someone would like and make them a voucher promising to deliver this in the next 12 months. It could be a treat, such as painting their nails or baking them a cake, or it could be taking on a chore like mowing the lawn or washing the car.  As long as you get to spend some time with them, it works.

Break with tradition

There's an awful lot of pressure at Christmas to have the best of everything plus all the trimmings but there's absolutely no need to conform. Ditching the traditional Christmas can save you money but also give you a lot more fun. 

Take the turkey. It might tick the festive box but you can guarantee you'll pay over the odds to wrestle that dry, old bird into your oven. Pick the food you love and, unless you've got a bit of a thing for caviar, it'll be cheaper and more delicious.  

Christmas trees don't need to happen either. Hang your baubles outside or decorate something more unusual. A blinged up bookcase, a houseplant covered in tinsel and even a stepladder covered in twinkly lights can save you the expense and the extra vacuuming a real tree demands.  




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