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How to save money at Christmas

How to save money at Christmas
Image source: Getty Images

Christmas 2020 will be like no other. But if we want to concentrate on silver linings (or silver baubles) then this year’s celebrations give us a unique opportunity to cut back on the usual expense. Whether you usually host a houseful or travel the four corners of the country to visit loved ones, 2020 could be the one year we can actually save money at Christmas. Here’s how we’ll be trying to be frugal whilst still having fun. 

Setting a budget for Christmas presents

At this time of year, all good financial sense goes out the window in our house (well, it is Christmas isn’t it?). This year, we’re being sensible and we’ve set a budget.

Setting a limit on how much we spend per person might not sound like fun, but it’s definitely a quick and easy way to save money at Christmas.

There are also some beneficial side effects. For instance, it means cutting out all the tat and choosing presents that will actually be wanted. In fact, some of the best gifts we’ve received over the years have been homemade by friends (like chutneys and sloe gin).

If you do have a wide circle of friends and family to buy for and can’t envisage crafting or baking gifts, why not give Secret Santa a go instead? 

Making the most of seasonal bargains

I always save money at Christmas by using points and vouchers accumulated throughout the year via loyalty schemes. For me, that means making the most of my Boots Advantage card points.

Used in conjunction with their three for two offers, this guarantees big savings and means you can still feel generous. I also tend to save all of our Nectar points and off-set them against our Christmas food shop.

Years ago we’d earned so many points that a £100+ shop came to about £30 (sadly, we’ve never been able to recreate that magical event). 

Plus, let’s not forget that December is usually filled with bargains galore, and if you miss Black Friday, you can catch up on Cyber Monday.  

Cutting back on food expense

Being realistic about how many people you’re catering for can help you plan better, minimise food waste and save money. 

In truth, this is one I usually struggle with. We’ve hosted the last few Christmases, and my paranoia about making sure everyone is well fed usually means we’re still munching our way through Christmas goodies in February. We do save money by making our own mince pies and Christmas cake (with the amount the children eat, making our own saves us a fortune).

Also, I’ve learnt that if visiting family members offer to bring or contribute something, take them up on it. It’s not rocket science, but it’s taken me a while to accept the fact. Contributions also mean that everyone feels they’ve brought something (literally) to the table.  

This year is, of course, slightly different and we’re catering for just the four of us. To ensure I don’t spend more than I need, I’ll be planning the meals we have over the Christmas break, making the most of leftovers and the freezer. According to a survey by YouGov, the average spend on food and drink over Christmas is almost £160 (I’m aiming for well below this).

Using technology instead of travelling

Our families live throughout the UK, from the Yorkshire hills, down to the opposite side of London, Cornwall and the Channel Islands. Usually, it means travelling the breadth of the country for some of us. This year (despite the slight easing of restrictions) we’ve decided to video call family so that grandparents and cousins can see each other and open presents. 

It’s obviously not the same, but it does mean saving money on fuel costs and everyone can stay safe at home.  

Planning ahead 

One of the best ways I’ve found to save money at Christmas is to plan ahead. That means snapping up bargains in the post-Christmas sales (yes, I’m that person).

In fact, it works so well that I haven’t bought Christmas crackers, wrapping paper or gift tags at full price for years (seriously). 

The biggest savings are to be had in stores that need to turn stock over fairly quickly. Supermarkets and mixed retailers like Wilko offer some of the best for deals. A few years ago, I picked up gift bags for 10p each and wrapping paper for 20p. 

Saving money at Christmas to enjoy the New Year

At the risk of sounding like a humbug, Christmas is only one day. Saving now, means worrying less about tightening belts at the start of the year.

What next?

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