‘Tis the seaon to be jolly, fat, listen to Wham’s Last Christmas on a loop (just me then, ok…) over indulge in wine of the mulled variety and get excited about a rather rotund man coming down your chimney (and not to steal your flat screen). Yes unless it has escaped your notice we are now well into December and Christmas will be upon us before you realise.
Are you ready?!
If the marketing bigwigs and retail moguls are to be believed, Christmas is not a time for family, friends and good cheer, but instead a time for spanking over three months salary on presents, experiences and food which will long be forgotten come January. Except of course when the credit card bill lands on the doormat come January and you weep into your tins of value baked beans at the stupidity of your festive spending habits.
Well stop. Stop right now. Let us help you navigate the Christmas period will minimal impact on your wallet whilst still keeping the festive fun intact!
The best way to avoid the Christmas spending rush is to plan plan plan. It won’t surprise you to know that for the vast majority of my relatives, I buy in the January sales for the following year. It means I can spend the same amount but get a better quality gift for my money, and it means I can plan what I am buying before I go out and spend.
Obviously that ship has sailed for this year (but get on it next year – it is a great tip!) but there are other ways to save the pennies on gifts. Instigating a spending limit between friends and family is a great idea, and it means you can budget your money. We’ve pulled together some great ways to save money on gifts right here, including making vouchers or hampers for friends instead of spending out on branded items.
Homemade gifts are always well received and don’t have to cost the earth – get your craft bag out and knit a scarf or two, or alternatively go all Nigella. Infused alcohol, chutneys and jams look lovely wrapped up and are perfect for the Christmas fairy looking to be thrifty!
December is often a blur of Christmas drinks, work lunches, Christmas dinners, travelling to family across the country and generally making the most of the season where it is totally fine to eat your bodyweight in turkey and bring out the rather large bottle of Bailey’s you’ve been saving. But all this socialising does NOTHING for your bank balance and can leave you a sad panda with no plans in the new year.
We’ve already covered how to negotiate the often expensive work Christmas lunch, but what about gatherings with friends? For me, the best way to solve this never ending financial crisis is to get creative. Forget over priced set lunches (particularly if you live in London or any City Centre), and try going out for a tipple instead (Team Tea are doing this, and have selected a two for one cocktail list to make sure we get the most bang for our buck). What about a trip, like pre-booked (and therefore budgeted and paid for) to an ice skating arena, or you could take advantage of a wander round the many free Christmas markets that are popping up all over the place.
When it comes to family visits, sometimes it is the travel that makes it eye wateringly pricey during December. As sad as this may sound, Christmas is just a day, and whilst it is nice to get round every distant relative this time of year, why not schedule in early January visits when travel will be cheaper (and of course make the festivities last longer!)
I’m incredibly lucky to go to family on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day which means some of the huge spends associated with the traditional Christmas dinner are avoided. However, take a leaf out of my Mum’s book if it is your turn to host and split up the cost amongst attendees. This year I will be providing some of the veg, a stuffing dish, the trifle and possibly some festive cheese. Don’t let the burden fall on you.
The same goes for the favourite tipple of your best friend/mad aunt – ask people to contribute. As host, you are already providing the vast majority of the hard work, and you should not be expected to cough up for everything too. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Seek out special offers at the supermarkets – this time of year most big chains have booze deals, and don’t be afriad to split up your shop amongst retailers to get the best deals. I often use clubcard points from Tesco at this time of year, and I never ever leave it till Christmas Eve to shop. You’ll over buy in a mad panic and be left with the dregs – and the queue for the car park which can stretch for hours.
Now. How’s about that mint Baileys?
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