How to be Santa - without breaking the bank

Tuesday 08 December 2015, 01:09 PM

Sam Barratt
Financial Journalist , Freelance

  • Santa Lg

Whether it's the pile of presents under the tree, your grocery bill or the stack of cards for friends and family, Christmas is a time of excess. Figures from YouGov show that last year, the average household spent £821 on Christmas, with £604 going on presents, £174 on food and drink and £43 on cards and decorations.

But, if you don't want your bank statements to keep reminding you of this well into the next year, there are ways you can cut back on your spending without turning into Scrooge.

  • Set a budget - work out what you can afford to spend on presents, food and drink and decorations and stick to this. You might even want to set up a separate Christmas savings account to help you keep the spending under control.
  • Start early - if you can stretch your spending across two, three or even more pay days, it makes it much more manageable. And don't forget - some of the best deals, especially on items such as cards, wrapping paper and decorations can be picked up in the January sales.
  • Keep it secret Santa - the pile under the tree may be a little smaller but by restricting present buying to just one person, you can afford to splash out a little bit more on them. Plus, there's no risk of duplicate toiletry sets or pairs of socks.
  • Make a list - not what you'd like Santa to bring you, but a list of what you want to buy other people. Sticking to this helps you avoid spur of the moment purchases that can prove unsuitable and costly.
  • Go online - as well as saving you from the high street crowds, shopping online makes it much easier to find the cheapest price. Use price comparison sites, or shopbots, such as Google Shopping (www.google.co.uk/shopping) and Kelkoo (www.kelkoo.co.uk) to find the best prices and then use discount sites like Vouchercodes (www.vouchercodes.co.uk) to get more money off. Take care though when you buy online. Make sure the address starts with https:// and look for a padlock in the browser window.
  • Make it special - it may be a long time since you brought home a mouse mat or bookend that you'd made at school as a gift for a relative, but you can still charm them with your creative talents. Handmade items such as chocolate truffles, sloe gin and, if you've got the skills, crocheted throws and cushion covers make a thoughtful gift that can save you cash too.
  • Recycle your baubles - you can't beat the smell of a real Christmas tree but, with the British Christmas Tree Growers Association putting a figure of between £25 and £35 on a six foot Norway Spruce, it can take a big chunk out of your budget. Consider an artificial tree or make your own from twigs or chicken wire.
  • Downsize your feast - dogs may be for life, but turkeys are definitely just for Christmas so unless you really enjoy turkey sandwiches/curry/risotto/soup, only buy what you need. Allow around 0.5kg per person if you do plump for turkey and don't be afraid to go for something different if it's not your thing.
  • Sharing at Christmas - if you've offered to do the entertaining at Christmas, cut the cost of catering by getting everyone involved. Decide which course you'd like to cook, then dish out the other courses to your guests. This will save you money and plenty of kitchen time.



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