If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s to not get into debt over Christmas. It’s just not worth it.
I think there’s such a massive amount of pressure on everyone to get the best presents, the best food, the best everything, so you can have the very best Christmas day. And if anything, it’s getting worse as the years go on. Not only is there Christmas Day and everything that comes with it – the presents, the food, the alcohol – there’s now Christmas Eve boxes, Elf on the Shelf, and even those advent calendars where someone gets you a little present everyday instead of a little chocolate! Don’t get me wrong, it’s all so lovely and I love how festive the whole thing is, but cost-wise, it all adds up. And it can add up to a lot!
When I was a University student, I didn’t have an excess of disposable income. One year I could barely afford main presents for anyone, let alone all the little bits that went along with it, and I felt so guilty that I couldn’t get my loved ones ‘good enough’ gifts. I definitely spent more than I should have on certain things and when I look back, I just think ‘was it really worth it?” Both the expenditure and the guilt! Now I can afford to spend more at Christmas, but even so, I’ve decided to set a budget. This year has been hard for so many people, not least financially, and a lot of people are looking for ways to save a bit of money this Christmas. Would we love to be able to buy the people we love everything they want? Of course, who wouldn’t. But the reality is, it’s just not feasible. And it’s not worth getting yourself into debt over.
So, today’s Blogmas post is all about the different ways in which you can do Christmas on a budget this year. There’s lots of little ways you can minimise costs and save yourself some pennies whilst still enjoying the festivities and having the best Christmas day you can.
As well as saving you a bit of money, homemade gifts are so personal too. My favourite handmade gift to give is baked goods. There’s some initial costs for the ingredients but you can batch make festive goodies to gift to people. Find out their favourites and make them! Other than baking, you could make up some DIY hot chocolate jars, crafted tree ornaments, a painting if you’re particularly artsy, a knitted scarf… or anything else you could think of!
Without even thinking about presents, just decorating your house can get expensive too! A good way to cut some costs is to make a lot of your own decorations out of paper. You could get some coloured or patterned paper to make paper chains, or make snowflakes by cutting into plain white paper. Or, you could even make your own baubles out of clay using cookie cutters, string and paint! It’s a good way to save some money and have a bit of festive fun too!
Do Secret Santa.
When I was at school, my friend group couldn’t afford to buy gifts for everyone, so we did Secret Santa and got one good gift for one person rather than struggling to get lots of gifts for everyone. We set a £5 or £10 budget so everyone got one lovely gift and no one had to spend more than they could afford. It’s one of the best ways to cut down your spending this year, especially if you have a huge friend group or family! If you’re struggling for ideas, I posted a Secret Santa Gift Guide this year that should be able to help!
Keep an eye on discounts and make sure you keep vouchers!
A lot of supermarkets hand out vouchers or opportunities for discounts around this time of year. Rather than throwing them away, it’s worth checking each one to see if you can use it, or even if you can give it to someone else. Sometimes they even print them on your receipts so keep an eye out for those too. Black Friday is another great opportunity to buy your Christmas presents and save money where you wouldn’t otherwise. Also, I swear it’s getting longer and longer each year! This year, rather the one day, or even one weekend, it went on for three weeks in some places!
Spread out your payments.
By this I mean start shopping early. If you leave everything to December, it’s a lot of money to come out of your bank account in one go. By starting early, around September or October, and buying a little each month until December, you’re most likely not spending less money, but rather spreading out the spending over a couple of paychecks. It’s much more manageable and won’t leave you with a lot less money than you would usually have in December. This is what I like to do and it works really well for me.
Plan travel in advance.
This is more for if you need to take public transport anywhere over Christmas. As a Uni student, I would take the train home for Christmas and it could get quite pricey. If you know you need to take the train anywhere over the festive season, plan in advance by booking your tickets early. They’re so much cheaper!
Buy second hand.
In my eyes, a gift is a gift, no matter where it’s from. Try buying some gifts second hand. Ebay, charity shops, Depop and Facebook Marketplace are great places to get second hand goods, especially toys or clothes, that are often like new and much more affordable than buying from Amazon or high street stores.
And if you’re worried about making these changes or really can’t afford certain things, speak to your loved ones about perhaps cutting something out or sharing the cost. It may be a hard conversation, no one likes to talk about money, but they will, or most definitely should, understand. It’s likely they’ve been there too at some point in their life and wouldn’t want you to struggle financially just because of Christmas.
Christmas is something to be enjoyed, not worried over or completely dreaded. If you need to set a budget, do it. At the end of the day, it’s the people you spend it with that make it what it is.