We are only half way through November and shops across the globe have already put out their Christmas decorations, festive foods, Christmas cards and stocking fillers out for sale. You might be thinking what I was thinking “It’s not even December yet!”. It may be early for the shops to start preparing for the festive season. However it is a perfect reminder for us to start preparing for this Christmas. Don’t get me wrong I love Christmas and want it to be a magical time for my child, but I also want to celebrate with a budget to void being skint in January.
To help you, I am here to share my money saving tips that I use every Christmas to slash the costs and save some money. Here we go:
1) Free letter from Santa
I tend to set a yearly reminded on my phone’s calendar to remind me to order a free Santa letter for my daughter Yasmin to add a little Christmas magic to the festive season.
2) Not used it for a while? Flog it!
Have you got items sitting around your home that you haven’t been using for a year? Why not flog it on Ebay, Vinted,Facebook Marketplace, Facebook selling pages, Gumtree etc. It will free up some space and makes some money, that can be put towards a Christmas meal or a gift.
3) Have a Christmas budget
Work out how much money you are willing and able to spend this Xmas. I know this isn’t a fun part, but it is important that you know how much cash you can play around with before starting your Christmas shopping. I usually work out my budget and set myself a challenge to spend as little of this budges as possible, so that the spare money can be used during the Boxing day sales and January sales to prepare for next Christmas, as everything christmasy will be heavily reduced.
4) Make a Christmas shopping list
I wish I could buy everyone I know a Christmas gift, but that’s just a very unrealistic fantasy. So I keep gift buying to the immediate family and very close friends. This helps to save money, time and reduce stress. Remember Christmas isn’t a gifting competition, nor an obligation to buy and give presents. Also if you are planning to have a Christmas dinner, don’t forget to put the turkey and the other bits on the list so that you know how much roughly all that will cost!
5) Do the Brand Challenge
Instead of buying the most expensive Turkey, Champagne etc., why not try supermarkets own brands or the brand that is a little cheaper than your usual choice? I used to be such a food snob and bought the Tesco Finest option all the time. Eventually I’ have ‘ve tried a cheaper option in the supermarket or shop in a cheaper shop such as Aldi and Lidl. I didn’t notice any difference in taste or how it looked, but have notice the huge difference in damage to my bank account, saving me nearly £100.
Have a look at my post Aldi vs Tesco: How much can you really save at Aldi? to find out how much I save doing my weekly grocery shop
6) Clearance shelf
Check out the clearance shelf whenever you go to the shops. You never know, you might be able to find something really nice that has been heavily reduced to make space for new stock. And it might be a perfect and affordable gift for family, friends or the kids. I check out the clearance shelf every single time I go to a shop throughout the year and just put away the bargains I have found for later such as Christmas and Birthdays.
7) Get cashback on your shop
You can get some money back or even get some freebies by using cashback sites and apps. So far since I have been using these sites and apps, I have got over £350 worth back. I try to get cashback on anything and everything I buy, including car insurance and holidays.
Want to know more about cashback sites and apps, I have written an article about it before here.
8) Do the Christmas shopping without kids
Taking kids Christmas present shopping, may increase the change of their wish list to get longer and longer. If the kids are very little, they may also get bored during your shop.
I like to do the shopping while my Yasmin is in school or when she is spending some time with my mum or brothers.
9) Buy train tickets in advance
If you are planning to visit friends or family by train, try to book them in advance as some train companies offer a discount on buying tickets up to 10 weeks in advance. I tend to check on Trainline to get different ticket options to look for the best price. Always worth having a look and ask the ticket office before paying full price.
If you do travel by train often, it may be worth to invest in a Railcard to save 1/3 off rail travel for a whole year for £30. If your journey requires a foot passenger ferry, you can also obtain 1/3 off the price as long as it includes a train journey.
10) Grab end of season bargains!
Supermarkets and high street shops heavily reduce their Christmas stock on Boxing day and during the first week of January during January sales. This is the perfect time to pick up Christmas cards, baubles, crackers, wrapping paper, gifts, decorations and artificial Christmas trees for next year! Many items are 50-75% reduced. I always put aside £50 to spend during these sales to prepare for next Xmas and leave everything in the attic so it isn’t in the way. You’d be surprised what you can pick up from the sales. Last year I worked out the £50 I used, bought me stuff that was worth approximately £180!
11) Track Santa’s whereabouts
Every year on Christmas Eve, kids can track Santa delivering presents to good girls and boys around the globe for free on Norad Santa.
12) Make Christmas decorations
Making paper snowflakes or salt dough ornaments can be a cheap or even free way to have fun with the whole family! Yasmin and I love doing some Christmas crafts every year with a cup of hot chocolate. Why not make some as a gift for family and friends too?
13) Compare prices
I always compare the price of an item from different retailers, before I purchase it. I just love a bargain, but who doesn’t right?
14) Personalized Santa Videos for kids and grown-ups
Every year, you can make a free personalised Santa video for your child’s birthday and during the festive season through the Portable North Pole website or their app that can be downloaded to your mobile phone or tablet. Please note there are some “premium” videos, which cost money. I stick to the free ones only every year and Yasmin absolutely loves it!
15) Make some snowman soup
Making snowman soup is easy, quick and makes cute little gifts for your child and your child’s friends. This could be a cheap activity to do with the kids on a cold rainy day too.
16) Secret Santa
Instead of buying each work colleague or class mate a gift, why not decide to do Secret Santa and set a limit to £5? That way it saves all of you buying each person something, which can end up costing a lot of money.
17) Hand deliver Christmas cards
Why waste money on post stamps, when you can hand deliver some Christmas cards by hand? If you have a friend, whose child goes to the same school why not drop it off at school? Or bring the card you have written for a co-worker to work and give it to him or her. I will see family members at the Christmas gathering, so I don’t bother sending the cards or dropping them off at their house. I’ll wait and just give them the card when I see them.
18) Make reindeer food
Yasmin loves making reindeer food by mixing some oats and glitter together. She then sprinkles it outside the garden or the front door on Christmas Eve, so that the reindeers can find our home.
I tend to use the cheap supermarkets value brand oats (about 75p for 1kg bag) and a set of glitter tubes.
19) Movie nights with snuggles
Can’t beat snuggling up on the sofa with a nice cup of hot choc and a movie such as Polar Bear Express or Home Alone. There are less chances of impulse buying like when you are out and about with all the temptations left right and centre.
20) See the Christmas lights
There is always a street nearby, where lots of people go all out covering their whole house and garden with Christmas lights. Why not go see the festive lights in town centers and cities. Little ones love walking or driving past them in the evening. This gives us a good excuse to go for a walk and get some fresh air.
21) Shop at an retailers outlet store or online
Before buying something full price, have a look whether the retailer you are planning to buy from has an official outlet store. I found quiet a few bargains shopping from outlet stores. I have found a list on MSE here.
22) Join the elf on the shelf tradition
I know the original Elf on the shelf book and elf is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Buy a similar looking elf and go online for many ideas. For the story, you could borrow the book from the local library. If they don’t have it, they may be able to order it in for your.
I bought our elf from Amazon and found the original book in the charity shop for a £1. You may be lucky and find the book at the charity shop after Christmas too.
23) Free Christmas Cheques
Why not offer to do something nice, like make a candle lit dinner instead of buying gifts? At MSE you can print out free Christmas cheques.
24) Book advent calendar for the kids
Book advent calendars are a great entertainment for the kids and budget friendly for us adults. All you need is wrapping paper and 25 Christmas storybooks. Wrap up the books individually and let your child pick and unwrap a book each day until Christmas day. This is a great and cheap way to spend some quality time with the kids during the festive season. Once they have been read, I put them away until next year. This way for my girl the books are very special every year. I only buy the festive wrapping paper during January sales to wrap the books up for next year.
You can get a pack of 10 different Christmas story books from The Works for £10. I bought some of our Chrismtas stories during the January sales, as shops put them on their clearance shelf. Charity shops often have them in just after Christmas and sell them at a good price. It might also be worth having a look at some local swap shops, such as the Drop & Swap in Ryde if you are a fellow Islander.
25) Create a treasure hunt
To make Christmas more fun, hide some presents around your home. Then leave the first clue under the Christmas tree instead. My best friend Iz has done this one Christmas, back when we shared a flat. It was so much fun, that I have done this withy girl Yas. Give it a try.
26) Do an inventory of your Christmas decorations
I know, it is tempting to buy more Christmas decorations, when you see all these nice baubles, wooden nutcracker statues etc., but before you decide to buy more festive decorations have a look what you already have. I don’t like to buy any more decorations, when I already quiet a lot sitting around in the attic.
27) Watch Santa’s Reindeers live
Does your little one ever wonder what santa’s reindeers are up to? With this free site by ReindeerCam they can watch the reindeers live and the best thing about this, it’s free!
28) Don’t buy a new Christmas outfit every year
I used to buy a new outfit every year for every Christmas party, which I now believe is a waste of money. People won’t remember the Christmas jumper or dress you wore 3 years go why not wear it again? That way you will save money on a whole new outfit. Another idea would be to swap your Christmas jumper or outfit with a family member or friend that wears the same size as you.
29) Team up and bulk buy
Does your friend or another family member need to buy something that you need too? It’s worth asking someone, whether they would like to bulk buy with you and split the cost. It very often works out a lot cheaper to bulk buy things whether it is food or loo roll etc., Splitting the cost works out a lot cheaper for both of you.
30) Have a look at charity shops
Many people drop off new and unused unwanted gifts to your local charity shop just after Christmas, which is a great time to look for bargains. You may find something nice that you can put away for next Xmas such as a Christmas jumper or some festive decorations.
31) Chose to spend time over gift
Christmas has gotten very commercialised. Many people think it is just about receiving and giving gifts. What happened to spending time with loved ones? For us, the Hang family we have huge family gatherings with lots of uncles, aunties, cousins and close family friends. We adults don’t gift each other at all, instead we all bring some food to one of the family members house, get the board games out, sing karaoke, have deserts and drinks. We only get the kids gifts that way we all save money and still have an amazing time.
32) Combine order to save on delivery
If you are planning to order something from a retailer that charges delivery charge, why not ask friends, family and work colleagues whether they are planning to do some gift shopping from the same retailer any time soon and if so you could order together to split the cost of delivery. Some retailers even offer free delivery over a certain order value.
If you are planning to order from Amazon and don’t have Amazon Prime, you can get a 30 Day Free Prime trial to make the most of free Amazon deliveries and make the most of many more prime benefits. Find out here.
33) Halloween sweets as stocking fillers
Many supermarkets heavily discount sweets on Halloween and for a few days after. Why not buy the big tubs of sweets to put them in stockings? This could work out a lot cheaper than buying Christmas themed candy. Last time I looked, I found a big tub of sweets by Swizzels in Tesco for £6 but got reduced to £1.50 on Halloween in the evening and still had a very long expiry date until the next year.
We all received a gift at some point that we will never use or even received the same identical gift twice. Instead of letting it sit around in the cupboard and taking up space, why not re-gift it? That way you free up some space and saves you on buying a gift.
35) Use a timer
Oohhh I love Christmas lights, but they can get expensive, when left on all day and night long. Timer plugs are great as you wont need to turn the lights on or off and can save you quite a bit of money on your electric bill.
For more energy saving tips check out my energy saving article:
36) Who is hosting Christmas dinner?
Instead of hosting Christmas dinner every year, why not take turns with friends or family, that way you could save quiet a lot of money.
37) Pop to the library
Why buy Christmas stories, when you can borrow from your local library for free? You can also use them for a book advent calendar. Just wrap them in some Christmas wrapping paper for the kids to open. My local library usually asks for the books to be returned 2 weeks after it has been taken out, which is plenty of time as the each Christmas story only gets read once and when more books are needed, you can still go to the library again.
Libraries often offer free Christmas craft events, which are worth going to, to get some fresh air and saves you on heating your home and creates less mess at home.
38) Hit the pound shops
Whenever I need something like craft stuff or some tape when wrapping presents, I check in pound shops like Poundland first. The pound shop also known as dollar stores in the US, are a bargain when it comes to stationary and craft materials. They are also excellent for stocking fillers and Christmas Eve boxes. Even supermarkets own brands seem to be more expensive.
39) Buy presents after Christmas day for people you see after Xmas
If you are planning to see some friends or family after Christmas day, it is worth popping to the shops on Boxing day, as lots of shops reduce their prices to clear their shelves for Valentines stock to come in. And if you are seeing them in January, wait till January as things get further reduced during the January sale.
40) Free 50 photo prints per month
Snapfish offer 50 free 6”x4” picture prints every month via their app that can be downloaded on Apple and Android phones. Only charge would be the £2.99 postage and packaging charge. Great for making a photo album or a picture collage as a gift for a loved one.
41) Rudolph’s lost sleigh bell
If you can get hold of a giant jingle bell, put in garden or somewhere outside and pretend Santa Claus and Rudolph have lost it. I do this every year with Yasmin and she always runs in the house with excitement. If your child is very little the same bell can be reused every year.
Got some oranges sitting around in the fruit basket and don’t feel like eating them and don’t want them to go to waste? Why not make some pomanders out of them, they make lovely natural festive air fresheners and Christmas decoration at the same time. Back when I was living in Germany, I used to make them with friends when I was little and gave some away as gifts to family.
43) Don’t go crazy with the Xmas deals
Be careful with the Christmas deals! How many times have you seen a Christmas deal and thought, wow this is a bargain and bought it, just to find out few months later that the item has been rarely used?
44) Make hot chocolate on a stick or spoon
Hot chocolate stirrers are easy and fun to make and doesn’t break the bank account. I like making Christmas themed ones with Yasmin when we have too much chocolate in the house and don’t know what to do with it. What I love about these is, you can make them all year round and pick whatever toppings you like from nuts, sprinkles, marshmallows, popping candy you name it. They also make great little gifts for friends and family.
The only things you will need are:
45) Don’t buy food that wont get eaten
No point in buying the biggest turkey possible to impress people, when a smaller one that feeds everyone is more budget friendly and creates less waste. I once made the mistake in buying a turkey that was way to big and loads of Christmas deserts and snacks, which ended up in the bin, as it was just too much. Food in the bin is money in the bin.
46) Make your own gift tags
Make your own gift tags using recycled Christmas cards. I like to cut out Christmas cards using a tag puncher. You can cut them out with scissors, but it is much easier and quicker using a tag punch. Initially you may think they are expensive, but it will save you lots of money in the long run if you usually buy tags yearly to put on presents.
47) Get a fake Christmas Tree
I know nothing beats a real Christmas tree. I absolutely love the real ones too they bring back childhood memories for me. But getting an artificial Christmas tree will save you a lot of money in the long run, as you can use it for many years. Also you know it will definitely fit in the room. However if you are like me, and love the smell of Fir, you can get Scent Sticks to hide in the tree to make it smell like a real Christmas Tree.
48) Send a free e-Card or text
Majority of us nowadays use our mobile phones on a daily basis, why not send e-Cards or text instead of a Christmas card? This will save a bit of money if you have to send loads of cards by post. I usually send the free e-cards from JibJab, when sending them to friends and family that far from where I live or live abroad.
49) Acts of kindness advent calendar
Last year I have discovered the free to use online acts of kindness advent calendar by Noomii. They release a new one every year. Every day it will give an act of kindness challenge, such as call a friend, donate something and many more. I have to say I am already excited to see the new one that they will release for this year.
50) Make an Amazon Wish List
My final tip is to create an Amazon Wish List. It is free and easy to do. If you want to avoid receiving gifts that you may not like or will not use, Amazon Wish List is the way! You can put items you would like or want from different price ranges, so someone could get you something that you’d like and is within their budget. It is also great for people that would like to get you a gif, but you don’t want to share your address as Amazon hides it form the person who is gifting you. To give you an idea here is My Amazon Wish List.