After the last couple of unpredictable christmasses and the cost-of-living crisis, we want to share six top tips to help cut festive spending without cutting the fun!

Making a list and checking it twice

Plan your budget in advance and make a list of all of those you want to buy for, then go through it again. Many of us buy gifts for people just because we always do, could you have a discussion with others about not buying gifts this year, but going out together instead?

Decide how much you have to spend and allocate money accordingly so you can plan expenditure. Don’t forget to factor in food and festive costs like social events as these sneak up! Once everything is written down, review your budget again and adjust accordingly.

Shop Alone

Statistics show that people who shop alone spend less money! If you can, tackle the Christmas shopping on your own you can focus on what you need. Going with a friend provides more opportunities for impulse purchases.  

Last Christmas they gave us so much, and the very next day we gave it away

Think carefully about what you are buying. If a person doesn’t really need or want the gift, will it get used or will it be given away? Vouchers and experiences seem like a great idea, but previous research from the UK Gift Card and Voucher Association revealed every year £300 million is left to expire on unspent giftcards. Don’t let your money go to waste.

Do you know how much you’ve spent at all?

It’s easy to get carried away when Christmas shopping. A good way to manage this is by just withdrawing the cash you have to spend on presents. When you have physical cash in your hand it is easier to keep track.  Keep a record of what you spend on each person in line with your original budget.  

With the food shop, consider ordering online so you can keep track of what you are spending or if you are going in store, add items to your online basket so you can plan your spend. Using the self-scanners while you shop will also help ensure you don’t spend too much. 

It’s a holly jolly homemade Christmas

Baked or crafted gifts often mean more to recipients than bought presents. Maybe you have a fantastic cookie recipe or are particularly good at sewing. You may even want to try your hand at scrapbooking, to give someone a personalised photo story of their life or your friendship. That thoughtfulness makes gifts truly memorable.

All they want for Christmas is you

Many family members do not need or even want presents; yet we feel obliged to buy them. This is particularly true with elderly relatives. Rather than buying something for the sake of it, why not give the gift of time. Plan a day to take them out for a trip to the garden centre or go round to play board games.

When it comes to the little people in your life, don’t go into debt on gifts they won’t remember. A child under the age of two doesn’t understand Christmas and the unwrapping part is more fun than the gift inside! With friends why not give the gift of time! How about a voucher for night of babysitting or the school pick-up? Not all gifts have to be materialistic.

With a few simple swaps, we hope this will help your festive season be merry and bright but if you are struggling with your debt, reach out to the Citizens Advice Bureau or other local charities.

Useful links: 

Citizens Advice Bureaudebt and money information 

Money Charityinformation and financial wellbeing workshops 

National Debtlinehelpline and cost of living hub  

MoneySaving Expert is a great source of financial advice and has lots more Christmas MoneySaving Tips here.