Christmas. Let’s face it, it’s an expensive time of the year. Well, at least it can be, but here are some of my top tips for having a thrifty Christmas in 2014.
Save on Christmas presents
If I’m honest here, the really serious thrifty folk will have already done the bulk of their Christmas back in the January sales! Don’t despair though if you’re reading this in December and thinking you don’t have a chance of saving money – you do.
Firstly consider who you have to get gifts for. Do they really all need a present? If there are a lot of family members then why not suggest doing a family Secret Santa instead? If you all draw a name from a hat and just spend £5 or £10 on one person then that’s an instant saving, and also a lot less hassle than trying to come up with a decent present idea for that strange relative that you only see once a year.
Think outside the box too. You can easily make your own versions of some of the hamper style gifts that you see in the shops. All you need is a nice box or other container and some things to go in it. You could even really tailor the contents to a specific person’s interests. I’ve seen mini hampers made up for gardeners containing hand tools, seeds, twine, a gardening themed notebook and gardener’s hand cream before. It’s also worth seeing what you can find in charity shops too. I’m a huge believer in buying secondhand and there are some great ideas over on Missie Lizzie’s Magpie Monday post all about just this.
If it’s fallen to you to host Christmas this year then you may well be panicking slightly about how much it is going to cost to feed everyone and make sure they have a merry old time too. If you’re spending Christmas with these people then you should hopefully be on good enough terms to be able to ring them up and ask them to bring something with them to help you out. Maybe one person could be in charge of bringing a Christmas pudding, another some mince pies and ask each to bring along a bottle of wine. Bearing in mind they’re getting a Christmas meal from you they shouldn’t be too put out by your request – or if they are then maybe they won’t come any more and you’ve saved in the process.
On the flip side, if you’re the one doing the travelling this Christmas it’s worth trying to plan your journey in advance to keep costs down. Book train or coach tickets as soon as you can as the cheap ones will sell out quickly, and if you’re travelling with children then definitely investigate getting hold of a family railcard as that too would save you a considerable amount – and you can also use it for a whole year’s family travel.
If you’re on your own and heading back to your home town for the festivities then why not ask around your friends on Facebook to see if anyone else is making a similar journey and if you could get a lift with them. In exchange for a bit of petrol money (which is most likely going to be less than a train ticket) you could catch up with a friend and save a bit of money in the bargain.
Keeping up with the Jones
There’s a simple answer to this dilemma – don’t. Christmas can be full of pressure. Not only is the media bombarding you with adverts for things you should buy and do before the big day, but everywhere you go people seem to be trying to sell you things that you NEED for Christmas. Social media is full of it too. Just step back and look at just how crazy the scenes were last Friday for Black Friday. People were fighting over flat screen TV sets in supermarkets, yet we still have child poverty in this country. It’s mind boggling.
Remember that Christmas (whether you’re religious or not) isn’t about getting into debt to pay for things you don’t really need. Sure, buy gifts for those you love and have a merry old time, but just do what is right for you and your family and what is in budget for you, not what you think is expected of you by everyone else. It’s easily possible to show people you love and care for them without maxing out a credit card to do so. It’s possible to have a wonderful time with your friends and family without having had to buy a supermarket’s worth of food and drink first.
If you enjoyed these tips then you might be interested to hear about my new role as the West Herts Drivetime Thrifty Correspondent on Radio Verulum. Each month I’m going to be talking about ways to save money and I’ll be sharing those tips here on my blog too via the Thrifty Mrs C page. Keep checking back to see how you can be thrifty going into 2015.