Christmas is the time of year for spending time with family and friends, relaxing and probably eating and drinking a bit too much.
It’s also the time of year we all go a bit mad with our spending. As our recent Christmas spending survey showed, the majority of people in the UK spend somewhere between £500 and £700 just on Christmas presents. Add on the extra food and drink you get in for family gatherings and you’re soon looking at a big cash outlay over the festive period.
To help you save money this Christmas we recently put together our great big Christmas spending guide, which provides a lot of actionable tips on how to keep your Christmas spending in check.
On top of that, we have also asked top personal finance experts and bloggers to share their own tips on saving money at Christmas – which you can see below.
We also want you to share your own Christmas spending tips – so use the form at the bottom of this post to share your tip or tips. We will add all your tips to this post and run a prize draw on the 18 December including everyone who has shared their tip, with one lucky winner receiving a £100 Amazon voucher.
Expert Christmas spending tips
Below is a selection of Christmas spending tips from the experts…
Marc Crosby – MoneyMagpie.com
It’s all too easy at Christmas to drop our usual ‘saver savvy’ mindsets and give into a money splurge. If you can resist this urge however, then Christmas doesn’t have to be much more expensive than any other time of year.
As always, shop around and only spend what you can afford. If you’re really struggling it’s often better to give friends and family the gift of your time and your skills rather than presents which might not be wanted anyway.
Sometimes a creative present that has more of ‘you’ in it (a free massage, a special dinner, a few free babysittings etc.) is more appreciated than chocolates or bath stuff…and it’s a lot cheaper!
Pauline – SavvyScot.com
My best tip for Christmas is simply to plan ahead. The more you rush at the last minute, the more likely you are to buy things at full retail price, or things you don’t need.
During the year, if someone mentions something they like, I make a note as Christmas gift ideas. If that product won’t spoil, I buy it as soon as possible, trying to get the best price on comparison sites and high street offers.
Some people you won’t see on Christmas Day you can buy gifts for on Boxing Day when the sales begin. In January you can buy Christmas decorations at 80% off and keep them for next year if you have a storage room. Same thing for kids toys that you can buy on the cheap for next Christmas. Planning ahead helps spread the cost of Christmas too, as you will spend a little during the year and less in December.
Iona Bain – youngmoneyblog.co.uk
My tip for Christmas is rather than spend a huge amount of money on presents that people don’t want or need, consider giving a charity gift, like a donation or a sponsorship. All the better if the charity gift or sponsorship is a little different or quirky.
This may not be appropriate for everyone in your life but can certainly work well with certain colleagues, friends and family members, particularly if the cause is one that is dear to your heart or theirs. This is much more thoughtful and conducive to Christmas cheer than some boring socks or an overpriced candle.
Joe – budgetbreakaway.co.uk
A huge portion of the Christmas budget is spent on feeding the family over the festive period. We’ve found that getting everyone to contribute some food, crackers etc… cuts down our costs by £50-£100 each year!
Your Christmas spending tips
Don’t get caught up in the commercialism, give one gift only and have a family budget of £5 or £10 max per adult, try and get experiences rather than just things for the children (most presents are not actually wanted anyway) and don’t go mad on food, the shops are open every day now and food is plentiful for us all year round – no need for excess. Christmas is about friendship and family company and that is free.
Google the items to see if you can get a better price.
If you have a big family try to arrange a ‘Secret Santa’ type of thing so that you only buy one gift and set a spend limit for everyone. We did it last Christmas and although the conversation was a little awkward everyone agreed they felt so much less stressed about starting the New Year in debt. If you don’t fancy that then suggest you each just buy an inexpensive joke gift or have a ‘Best Pound Shop’ present competition. Makes it fun and cheap!
Save weekly with parks so simple 😀
Write a list as Christmas approaches and stick to it. Then you hopefully won’t be tempted by on the spot purchases that you may regret later.
Use up food stuff from your cupboards first for over xmas and the new year, plan meals out from what you have any only buy what you need. This will help you cut down on impulse buying for festive meals.
Enter lots of competitions to win gifts for loved ones.
Shop at aldis they are cheaper than most supermarkets
Have big dinners every other day then inbetween eat leftovers save lots that way
Do a ‘Secret Santa’ with adult family members rather than individual gifts, everyone gets something without it costing each person a fortune. We set a limit each year and usually have a theme too ie. Something to eat/drink/read/wear, tackiest gift, joke gift etc…
Shop on Black friday or even better be extra prepared and buy some christmas shopping in the January sales. If you shop and tesco and have clubcard points why not boost them (to double your money) It is good to have a clear out of toys etc if you have little ones maybe sell some unwanted goods? every little helps 🙂
What matters is not the present but the giving. If the present is chosen with care and given with love, it doesn’t matter what it costs.
Sarah Jayne Pelham
My top tip would be to use sites like TopCashBack to gain back some of the money you’ve spent on bigger purchases. Use preloved and ebay bidding to set a target for smaller items without paying high street costs.
My best tip is don’t caught up in all the usual fuss, instead help somebody else out, like I have with a friend, and that is truer to the spirit than all the money spending stuff. Sorry,but that’s my honest opinion!
Shop around and try and stick to a budget if you have one
Never buy anything full price at the moment. Plenty of stores offering 15-30% off in store and online. If you sign up to a newsletter or website you often get a code for money off and free delivery.
Use a cashback website when doing your Christmas shopping. It might not be cheaper at the time but you’ll be grateful in January!
ONLY SHOP FOR WHAT YOU NEED
Make the most of comparison and cashback sites when buying gifts and stick to a rigid budget – don’t go crazy as it’s about spending time with your family and friends. Making your own hampers is cheaper than bought ones and means you can add or make customised gifts for your loved ones!
Use sites like top cash back and quidco to earn money back on what you spend in store or online, also can be done using discount codes or vouchers at time of shopping
When my children were younger they used to wonder why Father Christmas, with his magical powers, couldn’t bring them every single toy on their Christmas list. For many years I told them that, while Father Christmas bought and delivered the presents, it was still up to Mum and Dad to send him the money to buy them, and the wrapping paper to wrap them! It was a wonderful way to keep the magic going, but to stick to my budget! It doesn’t work so well now they are teenagers!!
Shop around most shops have great sales on and try shop a wee bit after Xmas as most shops have left over Xmas stock they are trying to get rid of
Always plan ahead and where possible use cashback sites like quidco or topcashback.
Children don’t always need brand new toys. Arrange some swaps with other parents to add to their presents.
Take around 10 pound every week and give to your mum to put away that way you wouldn’t be tempted to spend and try to forget about it until the end the year
Make home made presents
Whenever the supermarkets have done a buy one, get one free offer, I’ve put the free one away. When it comes to Christmas, I have most of the essentials already. Just remember to check the dates regularly and rotate any that are pushing it a bit!
WRITE A LIST AND STICK TO WITHIN YOUR BUDGET, DON’T BE TEMPTED TO ADD ANY EXTRAS, EVEN IF IT MEANS AVOIDING ALL THOSE CHRISTMASSY GOODIES, JUST IGNORE THEM AND THINK OF ALL THE MONEY YOU’LL BE SAVING!!
Buy presents in the January sales for the following Christmas.
plan your meals…and don’t overbuy too much food…and then food will not be wasted….use the internet to find recipes to make tasty meals and treats with left overs
Homemade, homemade, homemade! I like to make my own fruit infused liqueurs (think Gin and rhubarb with ginger for one!) and also hand made truffles and other chocolate indulgences! Saves money in the long haul as you can make a lot at once and it is such a lovely gift to give and means I can drink/eat any leftovers! Win win 🙂
Make your own decorations and gifts! Both can help save money, and handmade gifts mean so much more due to the effort that gets put into them. Also, a day in with the kids making decorations is a day they will treasure for a long time. A salt-dough ornament costs pennies, but time spent with your children is meaningful beyond cost.
Visit charity shops and buy new or as new stuff – books, dvds etc.
I would say look out for Christmas offers in the supermarket & buy one each week in the run-up to Christmas so not such an expense. Ideally get a £1 voucher each week all year at your Favourite supermarket, then Christmastime you have a tidy sum to spend in store.
when doing shopping online do so via cashback websites like quidco and top cash back
Hubs and I don’t get each other gifts (there’s not really anything either of us want anyway), less stress, less cost. Means we can put a bit more into the food! (That’s what I tell him, I buy super carefully so we don’t have loads of unwanted leftovers, lol). Also, I refuse to buy those bad for you nibbles that you’re made to fell you should buy – you don’t need then normally, so why bother!!!!
Do your online research into whos got the best price on larger items. Alot of the time i find somewhere doing the same product a lot cheaper than most high street shops
Use cashback sites
Use your skills to make some homemade presents – bake, sow, grow something that is personal and carries far more meaning than a mass produced item off the shelves – you can save a fortune and it helps to stop the “must give at least as expensive as I get” culture
find the best deals you can, whether it’s looking through newspapers, magazines etc. and figure out the best ways to save as much money as possible.
save loyalty points from nectar / boots etc and when they double up spend them then as they are worth double
If you have a large family agree to do a Secret Santa for the adults so you only have one present to buy each.
buy at the summer sales for xmas presents.
Set yourself a realistic budget and stick to it. There is no need to spend a lot as Christmas is about family & friends not about the biggest unwanted or unneeded present.
Buy presents all year round so when Christmas comes you’re sorted!
shop all year round for christmas gifts saves lots of money as things are normally cheaper the rest of the year and go up at christmas
We have a cap of £20 per person per present. It cuts down so much on the overall spend for everyone we find.
Always search if there are any discount codes available if you are buying items online, whether its for a percentage off the price or free deliver – every little helps!
Look in your email spam folder, there are often great (genuine) offers from companies in there!
Always compare prices online using price check websites and where possible, click through to the retailer through a cashback website to get money back on your purchase 🙂
Plan a few months ahead, and stick to your budget. Use cash back sites when you can, the money soon mounts up!
i always put a little aside each week so come mid january i go to primark & buy LOADS of little wrap ups that are more than a 1/4 of the normal price. also if i know of something my kids want i look for the price then save it, but i wait until a sale is on so i get it cheaper & then with the extra money i get them a few more little bits. another fav of mine is around the end of december i buy all my wrapping paper for next year…..10p a roll.
Shop around for offers and search online for discount codes
buy your presents through out the year, also use money off coupons to buy everything
It’s only one day
Save Christmas cards and reuse them next year.
Do your Xmas shopping a year in advance in January on online auction sites. You can pick up everyone else’s unwanted gifts for bargain basement prices.
Get the family to join in with a Home-made Christmas theme. That means, drawing, knitting, sewing, baking, woodwork – anything – to make the gifts, foods, decorations and games. I promise it will be a laugh – and a very merry Christmas.
Don’t leave everything until last minute – do a little shopping throughout the year when you spot bargains and squirrel them away. In the end you’ll save loads!
Have a good scout round Poundland for smaller presents – and Christmas cards too – I’ve found they actually have some great quality gift ideas and the cards are a fraction of the price you pay in the big card shops!
Start buying presents in the January sales so it doesn’t seem like a big shock when it gets to November/December time!
We agree with close friends and family not to buy each other presents, which saves a fortune. Only small gifts for the children. Also, I always give my Mum a hamper of treats, but this is made by filling a wicker baskets with things we buy on offer or from discount stores, starting in October! Not an expensive ready made to order one from the internet! A third one is if we buy a turkey crown that’s a bit on the large side, we cut it in half down the breast bone and freeze it to eat at Easter!
look around charity shops for gifts .. you get a good deal and are giving to help others
look for vouchers and codes online to use, it can save loads
Look out for offers and sales all year long so that you build up a supply of presents. Keep a list so you know what you have bought.
Order things early, look to other countries for cheaper prices even with delivery
Leave it all to the professionals
Christmas food shop can be expensive so use in store saver cards and put a few pounds on it a week and it soon mounts up and one less thing to worry about.
Shop online, making sure to look for promo codes for each store before you check out
Give the same Christmas card each year to close family members who agree to join in. if everyone returns the cards to the sender in january it saves money and recycling
Don’t over buy! So many people buy tons of food, and then waste it all
Try to spread your present buying over the year, buying things when there are big sales on, or big bargains.
Do a secret santa – family style! Put all your names in a hat and each pull one out and buy for that person (don’t include the children as they obviously won’t be buying and people like to get them special presents). Agree on a spend limit that you all can afford and don’t go above that. It takes the pressure off and saves a lot of cash for you all. Also, for Christmas lunch, all make a dish / have a responsibility and bring it all together. For example, in our family, one person is doing the meat, another is doing the vegetables and table dressing, I am doing cheese and biscuits and the crackers and another is doing desserts. This keeps costs (and stress) down whilst also getting everyone involved. Finally, use cashback sites when you are buying gifts and food!
Enter lots of competitions and use prizes as gifts! This year I’ve been able to give people amazing gifts which I wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy! 🙂
Remember that people come to see you not just to eat so you don’t need to offer a 6 course dinner, with different wines for each course – cut back, as long as the company is good the food will be secondary.
Always use comparison sites to get the best deal hot UK deals is fab
Don’t get done by gift sets. Last year I noticed Lynx sets were selling for £6.50p each, when I priced them individually, they were just £5 for the same three items!
I buy presents throughout the year, and especially in the sales after Christmas. Saves a fortune. I also bake gifts for people, which is a personal touch x
Make your own wrapping paper simply use parcel wrap and get the kids to decorate it, we use use good old fashioned potato painting to brighten ours
Try to start early so you get the best choice and aren’t panicked into paying more for your gifts
I save with park I don’t miss £30 a week but I would if I had to fort out £1200 in one go so my vouchers pay for presents I save nectar points to use at sainsburys toy sale And enter lots of competitions to try and win some extra gifts.
Enter competitions throughout the year and save any prizes you win to give to loved ones this Christmas.
I do all of my Christmas shopping well in advance, so I can take advantage of the sales throughout the year. Just by planning in advance you can save an absolute fortune!
Shop around to find the best possible deal
But early, little and throughout the year… Spreads the money over months so you don’t spend all in one go
Budget, Budget, Budget… have a set budget with everyone you want to buy for. Write down what everyone wants and look up the best place to buy that gift by doing research online!
Remember it’s the thought that counts and try to shop in the sales to get things a bit cheaper.
Particularly with food this year I have planned down to exactly portons per person even for xmas day buffet. I usually buy whole ham joints etc which after a few sluces gets uneaten. Ive bought packs with 10 slices, small jars of pickles, and lietrally enough to go round. Too much choice is also a waste, stick to a particular meat and embellish with oddments from jars, salad and veg which is cheaper from the discount European stores. I havent spent half my usual budget and feel better for it.
Start your Christmas shopping in the January sales to spread the cost over the year
My Top Tip is to Start early & Plan Well. If you’re on a tight budget then speak to friends and family about maybe only buying gifts for children. My Sister once gave me 5 baby sitting vouchers in a christmas card which she had designed herself when she was a student and short on cash and that was a priceless gift. So maybe consider giving gifts of help/friendship than materialistic value, there is also more time and thought spent on these. Once you have your list of who you need/want to treat then stick to it. Be sure so compare prices online and in stores and if you’ve given yourself some time this can become quite a satisfying habit. Remember to use Cashback Sites and or Cards where you can and scour the internet for discount vouchers and codes. When it comes to the feast of Christmas, try to remember that the shops & Supermarkets close for just 1 day. There really is no need to buy ridiculous amounts of groceries/alcohol and once again plan ahead. There is really only so much food and drink any human can consume in one day. Make your list/budget and again stick to it. By doing this you’ll find that there are so many reduced items in the supermarkets after the big day so your New Years celebration supplies will cost you a fraction of what they would have before hand. One other rule I stick to is LED christmas lights and remembering that they do no need to be on all of the time, try alternating evenings and the electricity will cost you half….and I bet no one even notices!!
Start buying in the January sales, especially Christmas decorations as they’re so much cheaper and can be saved for the next Christmas.
Plan ahead, price up gifts, check deals on hot uk deals and money saving expert sites
Remember that Christmas only lasts a day and it’s not worth blowing your budget for. Smaller thoughtful presents will always be better than bigger thoughtless ones – and thinking is free.
My tip is to remember the shops are only closed for one day – you are not food shopping for a siege! Buy what you need for Christmas Day and Boxing Day with a little extra, use the leftovers and if you want more Christmas treats remember they will be reduced in the sales immediately after Christmas.
enter online competitions and try to win something nice for you and your family and friends.
spread the cost of presents over Oct, Nov, Dec and only buy when items are on sale…it saves an absolute fortune
Budget small amounts throughout the year into an ISA on a standing order. Make them so small that you don’t notice them but frequently enough so that it makes a big difference. I do £5 per week x
I always buy gift sets and perfume set in the January sales oh and wrapping paper, cards etc
Pam Hutchinson Kelly
Shop around on line and use auction bids
Make your own hamper from homemade products like jam, chutney, sloe gin, etc. A much more exciting present!
I always check for discount codes or vouchers when buying online. I also try to cut vouchers out of newspapers and magazines when I see them, so I have them when I am out shopping. Sometimes they’re even in date when I need them!!
Shop around make sure you get the best price. Barging shops often have lots of little gems
Get crafty make cards save the brown bags you get from shopping and use them as gift bags make hampers with home mad bakeing in.for santas plate instead of buyin an expencive one we got white round plate then with a marker drew where things went carrot mince pie drink i bobbes it in oven at 180 for twenty mins to set.
NEVER go food shopping when you are hungry. Charity shops can provide fantastic gifts at great bargains.
Set a budget for each gift and stick to it
When shopping online, go through a cash back site and earn money rewards.
Make money saving websites your friend by visiting them every day and acting on the tips and advice they give.
Try to buy reduced party type foods in the run up to Christmas as you can usually get these very cheap at closing time. They usually all freeze and it cuts down on the cost of Christmas food especially a buffet style on Boxing Day and New Year etc. Also milk freezes and gets reduced to very little at the end of the day and quickly defrosts in a bowl of water as it’s the one thing you can easily run out of. Shop at Aldi or Lidl and use spend and save vouchers/coupons out of the tabloids You get a lot for your money in Aldi for say £40 and you can usually get a £5 off when you spend £40 coupon in the run up to Christmas.
Try to plan ahead. We often get our cards, wrapping paper and any gift sets that can survive a year in the January sales. Shop around as well. and use cash back sites as you’ll get a little bonus after christmas for spending what you would have done anyway!
Send off for free samples & put them together with other bargain toiletries & other goodies to make a lovely hamper for less.
Make presents – even if you’re not a great cook or very crafty there are some easy things you can do, even if it’s something like putting together your own hamper made of bought products – a nice basket, some pretty tissue paper and some cellophane and it will look amazing, at a fraction of the price!
It’s very easy to impulse buy, keep a list of all those you have to buy pressies for and keep to it!
Buy your next Christmas presents during the Boxing Day sales or throughout the year! Saves a lot of money and hassle!
Enter competitions and do surveys online for gift vouchers. Then save them all up until December to use for presents.
Stop talking to people just before Christmas so you don’t have to buy as many presents
Raise your children not to be grasping materialists who think their existence is meaningless without designer brands. Spend time on them instead.
Shop online and use comparison web sites
Use a cashback site when shopping to reduce the cost!
Always shop around for the bargains because it all adds up in the end 🙂
start buying early
Do all your shopping online. Don’t buy anything in store without checking if you can find it cheaper online and make sure to search for promo codes too!
Mrs Sharron Page
Go to car boot sales and see if you can pick up some antiques and gold jewellery that you could make a profit on.