It’s that time of the year again. Yes, already. Many of us will be excited about the idea of tucking into a turkey dinner and Santa dropping off a few presents.
But it’s not all festive cheer for some, especially with the cost of Christmas rising year on year. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can prepare your pockets for the coming festive season.
Nick Drewe, money saving expert at discounts platform Wethrift, shares ten top tips to help you get ready for Christmas.
Make a list, check it twice
While the younger members of the family are most likely already busy writing up extensive wish lists for Santa, it might be worth you considering writing up a few lists of your own.
The build-up to Christmas can be a stressful time, and organisation is the key to navigating yourself to that big day. Keeping lists of what gifts you have bought for who, and who you still need to buy for is a great way to relieve some of the pressure of gift shopping.
There are even password-protected apps available to download, which allow you to organise your gift shopping and spending.
Likewise, try making a list of all those Christmas bare essentials. We have probably all been there – a few nights before Christmas and about to wrap our carefully purchased gifts, when we realise we have forgotten to buy name tags… or scissors and tape to cut the wrapping paper… or even the wrapping paper itself!
Sometimes the most basic items are the easiest to forget, so keeping a checklist of them all will help the build-up to Christmas run a lot more smoothly.
Know your Christmas budget
Be clear with yourself about just how much you are prepared to spend in advance to avoid the stress of accidentally going over budget.
Everyone’s budgets are different and everyone is equally capable of over-spending if they’re not careful.
Make a plan for your entire festive budget, from food to alcohol, and decorations to presents, and try to set some money aside for it as early as possible.
Most people do not know how much they are going to spend over the festive period, and suddenly what starts off as picking up a lovely £20 gift becomes a stress-inducing purchase.
The anxiety of splurging out on gifts and other Christmas bits can be enough to turn you into a right old Scrooge, but planning in advance can put your mind at rest when treating your friends and family to that perfect present.
Get your shopping done early
Whether you prefer to shop online or in-store, aim to beat the queues and the panic buyers by getting your Christmas shopping done as early as possible.
You might get some strange looks from fellow shoppers if you are spotted buying tinsel on November 1. But you’ll be the one laughing once you’ve got your feet up watching festive films, while the rest of the world scrambles over each other in busy supermarkets.
The early bird catches the worm, so filling your stocking before the ‘official’ Christmas shopping season begins means that you could actually save money by avoiding price surges.
Getting in there early will also guarantee your gifts arrive if you choose to do your shopping online. Lengthy shipping times can often soar at Christmas with everyone ordering the same sorts of products at once, leading to shortages. The last thing anyone needs is for a special gift to arrive after the day has passed.
Map out your shopping route
If you do decide to take to the high street to do your Christmas shopping, then take the time before your trip to town to map out the shops you need to visit.
Other than the fact that the shopping centres are extremely busy at this time of year, one of the most stressful aspects of Christmas shopping is having to turn back on yourself because an item you need is on the other side of town – where you probably were 30 minutes before!
Avoid that feeling and save yourself time in the process by planning your route across town accordingly. Maybe even factoring in a stop-off for a gingerbread-spiced latte along the way.
Find coupon codes online
Don’t wait for a high street voucher to drop out of a Christmas card to get your dose of discounts. Whether you are buying gifts for other people or treating yourself, make the most of coupon codes to be found online.
Whether you’re searching for beauty products, gadgets or experiences. Once you have worked out the sort of items you need to buy, let the internet do the hard part and track down the discounts for you.
In addition to all the obvious cash savings you can make by utilising coupon codes, you may also find that some of the best deals for the items you were searching for coming from sites or small businesses where you would not have previously thought to look. So you may even end up stumbling upon a new favourite store to use all year round.
You may also find you’ve been collecting discount codes of your own all year round with your loyalty card. Whether you collect Nectar points, Clubcard points or something else, Christmas is a great time to make use of all the loyalty points you’ve racked up throughout the year.
Shopping locally will be as much of a treat for your community’s local economy as it will be for yourself or the person you’re buying for.
Small businesses can struggle during the festive season as everyone flocks to recognisable high street chains or online giants like Amazon for their Christmas bits.
This year is especially important for you to go out and support your local businesses as they attempt to financially recover from the effects of the lockdown.
Whether you’re picking up gifts, decorations or food for a festive feast, everything will feel more far more sentimental, and naturally full with Christmas spirit when it has been locally resourced.
Buy in bulk
Do you find yourself blessed with an abundance of nephews in urgent need of a body wash kit? Or an array of aunties who would appreciate the same bottle of perfume?
If you find yourself with a few friends or relatives to buy for, then buying in bulk could help you cut back on the costs, while pleasing your gift recipients at the same time. Take advantage of familiar supermarket offers like ‘Buy One Get One Free’ or ‘Two for £10’ to save the pennies during the festive season.
Provided the items you’re buying are not perishable then feel free to really buy in bulk. If it works out cheaper to buy 20 rolls of wrapping paper, then do it and have enough in stock to last you for a few years. Storage should not be an issue if you already have a designated spot for keeping your Christmas decorations.
If you are attending several Yuletide parties that require to bring a bottle of alcohol, it is worth having a look around to see where you can buy these in bulk to save money too.
Ditch the turkey
The mere suggestion of it would be enough to make some see red, but would you be prepared to do the unthinkable and swap out turkey?
The centrepiece of the traditional Christmas dinner has been a staple in Britain ever since the days of Henry VIII. But with the cost of buying one going up every year, coupled with the expected shortage of the birds in 2021 due to Covid and Brexit – is it time to break tradition?.
Why not try something really different this year and switch to one of the many vegetarian, or even vegan, alternatives? There are plenty of delicious options from the familiar nut roast to the increasingly popular ‘no beef’ wellington.
But, if you must insist on having meat at the table on Christmas Day, there are still plenty of alternatives to shake up your lunch for the better. All over Europe, the idea of the ‘traditional’ Christmas lunch meat changes, with roast ham, pork, salmon and even meatballs being enjoyed across the continent.
Stick to the basics
We have all been there on January 1, staring blankly at our bank statements and asking ourselves, ‘how did I let myself spend so much this year?’
The answer may lie in the thousands of lights draped over the front of your house, the extravagant tablecloth that was covered up by the Boxing Day buffet, or in the brand new baubles that got lost between the branches of your tree. Or perhaps it’s in those expensive chilli chocolates that none of your guests even dared to try.
The point is, stick to making sure you get the bare essentials right and then assess what luxuries you can afford afterwards. Remember that even if you are playing the role of gracious host this year, no one will expect you to go above and beyond in the decorations department. The real memories will be created by however much Christmas spirit you bring – and that doesn’t cost a penny.
For those working in an office, studying in the same class or simply just a large friendship group or family, Secret Santa is a fun game to play and a great way to save money at Christmas time.
Members of the same group are each randomly assigned one person they have to buy a present for. The game is fair in that every person receives one present each, but only needs to buy one present themselves. In most cases, the group will agree on a set budget for the gifts.
Secret Santa is a sure-fire way to make sure that you and your friends stay well under budget at Christmas while having fun and receiving a wonderful gift at the same time.
If you find yourself in the dreaded scenario of being the Secret Santa for someone you don’t know too well, then be a little bit naughty and snoop on their social media activity to discover the sort of things they like. It’s supposed to be a secret anyway!
Find more money-saving tips at wethrift.com/