How to do Christmas on a Budget

Student santa

A typical family spends over £820 on Christmas. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement and everyone wants to have the best Christmas possible, but it shouldn’t be about how much you splash out. Magical moments don’t have to be expensive and there are lots of budget friendly ways to enjoy the festive season.

Plan your spending


Once the first door is opened on the advent calendar, the big day soon creeps round. Leaving everything to the last minute can force you to spend more than you intended.

Plan your budget, presents, and menu in advance to give yourself time to shop for the best deals and take advantage of special offers on the items you know you will need.

Online money planners can help you work out how to allocate your money for food, gifts, going out, travel, decorations, and other expenses based on the amount of money you set aside for Christmas and how much you can accumulate in the remaining weeks.

With a clear idea of your budget, you can work out your gift list. Do you really need to buy for everyone? Maybe this is the year to agree to stop giving gifts to extended family members you never see. Why not suggest a secret santa amongst groups of family, friends, or colleagues.

In the run up to Christmas, supermarket aisles are rammed with trolleys piled high. People seem to forget that the shops are only closed on Christmas day, which means there’s no need to go crazy. Planning a menu for the days you’re at home makes it easier to buy only what you need. Don’t forget about online grocery shopping too. If you’re not walking round the supermarket you won’t be tempted to sneak extra items in to your trolley and you can keep an eye on your expenditure as you shop.

Affordable Christmas presents


People love receiving handmade gifts. You can’t go wrong with consumables such as biscuits, cakes, alcohol or homemade beauty products, all of which can be whipped up for next to nothing. Find inspiration and instructions on sites like Pinterest to get your creative juices flowing.

If you can’t escape buying high value gifts, such as tablets and games consoles, wrap up a personalised IOU promising to buy the item in the January sales. It will probably be appreciated more after the chaos of Christmas day has died down, and will prolong the anticipation and excitement.

For gifts that cost no more than your time, give ‘cheques’ that can be cashed in at the recipient’s whim. Promise your partner a date night, host a night in with your girl friends, or offer to babysit for a family member.

Entertainment for all the family


It’s always nice to have treats and special occasions to look forward to in the run up to Christmas. There are no end of markets, shopping centre Santas, and celebrity studded pantos queueing up to take your money. Instead, use your imagination and you can plan activities that deliver just as much joy at very little cost.

Look out in your local area for Christmas lights switch ons, events hosted by small businesses, and pantomimes put on by amateur dramatic societies. Tickets will be cheaper than the corporate affairs and you can give something back to the community at the same time.

Get everyone involved in decorating the house. Dust off the Christmas albums, make some mince pies and turn it in to a family event.

You can’t beat snuggling up under a blanket in to watch a classic Christmas film. Turn on the fairy lights and burn a few candles to make the room feel super cosy. Have popcorn on hand for a complete home cinema experience.

Blow away the cobwebs by taking everyone out for a long walk. Admire the Christmas lights in your area, spot robins in the park, and jump in muddy puddles. Treat everyone to a hot chocolate or a mulled wine to warm up when you get home.

Get a head start on next year

The January sales are a great time to pick up discounted Christmas decorations, cards, wrapping paper, and even a few early Christmas presents. Just put them somewhere you can find them come December!

Christmas is a time to slow down and enjoy the company of friends and loved ones. With forward planning and a bit of imagination, it’s possible to create lasting memories and bring the cost of your celebrations in on budget.

Written by Becci Johnson

Twitter: @BecciBrown82
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