As we enter November, our mind starts to turn to thoughts of Christmas. Whether you are a new family or long-established Christmas host, this time of year can be expensive and it seems to be getting more expensive each year. Sadly, our wages do not seem to be increasing at the same rate. However, it never stops us from wanting a fun-filled festive time. As such, I have put together five simple tips to help you reduce the costs this Christmas, as well as make them more manageable and stress-free.
Set a Budget Per Person
It’s always tempting to buy something expensive because it feels like the perfect gift, but setting a budget per person not only helps you manage the overall cost of Christmas but also stretches those creative muscles as you are forced to find something that they will like but in a price range that is lower than normal. Whether it’s a hot sauce set for your father, a Charity Shop broach for a Grandma or a lucky money plant for your penniless brother. If you set a budget, you know the maximum amount you will spend on presents and every penny under that budget is a saving.
Spread the Cost over Multiple Months
Christmas is a constant, it happens every year. There is no need to get to December and say that it crept up on you. Every year, you can get ahead of the mad panic of Christmas by setting aside a small amount into a Christmas fund. Direct Debits can be set up to pass money across into a dedicated account that not only gets an opening bonus (sometimes up to £100) but allows you a card that is only used for spending on Christmas.
However, as this advice comes quite late in the year, if you need cash quickly, then some choose to get a loan to cover the costs and pay it back over the upcoming year.
Price Watch the Items Your Want
It’s a great idea to brainstorm the presents you want to buy and add them (and their prices) into a spreadsheet (on Google Sheets). This way, you can track the prices. If your Dad wants an Echo Dot, then these can be purchased for £15 at the right time. Similarly, you may find that prices actually increase before a sale only to be reduced back to normal during a supposed sale.
Take Advantage of Early Sales
With the above spreadsheet, all prepared you can take advantage of early sales. Ski Jackets are cheaper in May, lawnmowers are better in October and toys better in January. Find out when the best time is to buy certain products is and be more tactical when shopping.
Invite People Over for Christmas (and get them involved)
Christmas food is yet another cost to add to the overall budget and entertaining is not cheap. One way that we have found to reduce costs is to ask people around and ask them to do a dish and bring a bottle. This way, the family feels more involved and the cost is spread amongst everyone leaving you more time to prepare the house. You will also find that the various dishes may be better than doing them yourselves. Fried sprouts with bacon instead of your usual boiled variety, fancy homemade stuffing instead of a pack of Paxo. It might be the tastiest Christmas yet!
Add a personal touch to your festivities this Christmas, by making some of the gifts yourself. If you have ever watched ‘Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas’ on TV or YouTube, you’ll know that you can make some special presents for family and friends easily and cheaply. Whether you are making festive food treats, painting plates or creating a personalised photo frame, there are so many great ideas online. Similarly, you can turn a hobby into a gift by brewing them some homemade beer or creating a sketch of a family member.
These ideas are sure to keep you in control of your Christmas budget and reduce stress during this busy time. Getting your family and friends involved may be difficult at first but make for an entertaining time. Personalised gifts may not cost the earth in terms of money but as they take time to make, this is priceless.