Christmas is an expensive time of the year, and even though we know it is coming, most of us don’t budget for this costly time.
So, if money is tight, here are some cost-effective tips to have an amazing Christmas without breaking the bank.
1. Stir your way to a tasty Christmas
Forget about buying an expensive Christmas cake. Get the family together and have a ‘stir up Sunday’. Traditionally the last Sunday before Advent is the time when you get your ingredients together and make Christmas puddings and cake.
Even if you are no good in the kitchen, making a delicious Christmas cake is not difficult and there are lots of recipes you can use. Personally, we use a family recipe handed down for generations. If you don’t have one yourself, there is no better time to create one!
2. Make delicious yet budget tree decorations
While you are in the kitchen, why not make some Gingerbread decorations for your tree. Bake some tasty Gingerbread using some Christmas cutters. Ice them and ensure you leave a hole at the top to tie a ribbon through to hang from your tree.
3. Give the gift of your time
Reduce amounts of expensive presents by giving some of yourself this Christmas. Consider making personal gift vouchers giving a massage, cooking a nice dinner for two or even completing the housework or gardening for two weeks.
It makes for a personal gift for your significant other, for friends and family. Give whatever skills you may have, from repairing their computer to babysitting, so they can have a night out.
You can be sure that the vouchers will be much appreciated when they are cashed in!
4. Set up a Christmas cupboard
Set aside some space in a cupboard (out of the reach of prying children’s eyes, if necessary). You can use this to put aside items for Christmas. Look out for sales and bargains during the year (January and end of season sales) and put away in the store cupboard items, a little at a time.
If you pop a jar of cranberry sauce, or dried fruit for your cake as you do your weekly shopping, you will hardly notice the cost and will save a fortune at the end of the year and this lets you stay within your budget!
5. Don’t go crazy with your Turkey
You may feel that the Turkey needs to be the most expensive one in the shop, expensive means best doesn’t it?
Well, you may be surprised, in numerous taste tests people have not been able to tell the difference between the most expensive and slightly cheaper budget turkeys.
Also, unless you want to be enjoying Turkey curry well into January, don’t buy a massive bird if there are only a few of you dining! Remember, the shops will only close for a day and you will not run out of food!
6. Go secret Santa…
If you have friends and family coming for Christmas, buying presents for everyone can become massively expensive. Why not suggest a ‘secret Santa’ where you set a price limit (£10 for example) and ask everyone to be creative.
You draw names for who you will be buying for before the big day and keep it all a secret. Anonymity can lead to some zany and fun gift selections and this will certainly be a talking point over the dinner table!
7. Christmas time is craft time
Stay within your budget for cards and gifts by getting out your glue and glitter and make your own. Not only will you save a fortune, you will have some fun family activities and create something personal.
Get inspiration on-line for some simple craft ideas from decorations to presents.
8. Make some holiday food gifts
Why not make some yummy food gifts to share as Christmas presents. From Brownie Jars (a mason jar filled with a simple to make brownie mix for the recipient to enjoy when they need a cocoa fix) to Jelly Bean Vodka (pick your favourite flavours and infuse an amazing cocktail – one of the grown ups!)
There are loads of ideas you can find, here are just a few to give you some inspiration:
- Homemade jam – lovely gooey jelly, pop it in a jar with a ribbon
- Cookie Dough Treats – see if you can resist eating this yourself, better make a couple of batches!
- Mulled wine kit – simple and delicious
9. Planning is everything
There is a risk that, if you fail to plan, you will end up rushing in the days before Christmas to buy food and gifts you have forgotten. Instead, in plenty of time, make a list and decide what you need, that way you will end up only buying what you need without stress and will not have something vital missing from the Christmas day dining table!
List everyone you need to buy gifts for, all the cards you need to send and all the food and drink you want to have. You can then have the satisfying feeling of crossing things off the list and feel smug as others are rushing around the shops on Christmas eve!
10. Remember, Christmas is supposed to be a special time
It is easy with all the commercialization of Christmas to forget this is a special time. Whatever your religion, it is a time when families come together and we should take this opportunity to relax and enjoy time with those we love.
So, if you cannot afford the most expensive gifts or the finest food, just do what you can. The holiday time is not a spending competition (even though it may feel that way), do what you can afford and make it special in your own way!
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