Christmas has long been labelled the most magical time of the year. But what makes it so special? Is it family and friends that you get to spend time with? Or lovely food on the table? Maybe all the concerts and cultural events you get to attend? Or are you all about thoughtful Christmas gifts? Whatever makes Christmas unique for you, we know one thing – there is no link between the magic of Christmas and the amount of money you spend on it! So if you want to save some money and have Christmas on a budget this year, this Ultimate Guide To Frugal Christmas is definitely for you!
1. Setting A Budget
If you want to save money over the festive period this year, the first thing to do is set yourself some limits and boundaries, otherwise known as Christmas Budget.
However, pulling the number out of thin air and setting it as your aim for an amount of money not to exceed will only result in an unrealistic budget and you not sticking to it!
We recommend starting your journey towards a Christmas on A Budget by reviewing last year’s credit/ debit card statements and calculating an approximate total spent over the festive period. Then make it your goal to spend 25% less this year. This way you will have a data-backed goal expressed in money amount to reach for!
2. Making A Clear Plan Ahead of Time
Nothing is more expensive than doing multiple shop runs on Christmas Eve to buy something you’ve forgotten. Crowds are unbearable, prices are higher than ever and time is precious. That’s why getting organized and having a clear detailed plan for the holiday season is a must if you want a more frugal Christmas.
Planning everything from gifts, cards and decorations, to making a Christmas dinner plan and a shopping list will help you save money on Christmas and allow you to relax over the holidays, knowing that everything is in control. We highly recommend making a small investment in a Christmas Planner which will help you save money along the way. Not only does a Christmas Journal get you thinking about small details that you would have otherwise forgotten, but it is a great way to plan ahead to make use of seasonal discounts and make your own gifts in advance.
For more tips, head to our article on How To Prepare For The Perfect Christmas By Planning Ahead.
3. Reducing Christmas Food Costs
Did you know that people on average spend £449 on Christmas decorations and food combined? If you are on a tight budget this year, this number must send you into panic immediately! And I am not surprised. But fret not, we have plenty of tips and tricks for you to consider to reduce the costs of Christmas food.
Food is one of the areas where you can save a good amount of money without sacrificing too much. Consider swapping an expensive turkey or goose for delicious roast chicken, and your smoked salmon appetizer for a paté made with smoked salmon trimmings (that are usually about half the price). How about a lovely lighter trifle instead of a rich Christmas pudding this year?
There are plenty more savings to be made on Christmas drinks, choosing the cheapest cooking methods (like a slow cooker instead of an oven) and sharing the costs by having friends and family bring a dish! Read more about Saving Money On Christmas Food to help you have a magical Frugal Christmas.
4. How To Save On Christmas Gifts?
Buying Christmas presents for your immediate, extended family, all your friends and colleagues at work will definitely amount to a huge sum of money! But we fully understand both the pressures of the holiday to exchange gifts and the human need to do something special for people that we love over the holiday season. So saving money on Christmas Gifts is one of the most important things to include in your Frugal Christmas Plan.
Luckily, we have a great resource of ideas for Free Christmas Gifts as well as Inexpensive Edible Christmas Gifts To Make In Advance. I am sure you will find an idea or two to use as gifts over the festive period and save money along the way!
5. Savings To Be Made on Christmas Cards
Do you post Christmas cards to friends and family every year? If so, you know how expensive holiday cards (and postage) can get. Consider alternatives this year to save some money, including:
- Sending digital cards.
- Making your own pre-recorded greetings.
- Getting organized in advance to save on postage.
- Making your own DIY cards at home.
You can find these and many more saving ideas explored in more detail in our article on How To Save On Christmas Cards.
6. Pay Less (Or Nothing) For Christmas Concerts and Events
There is no better time to find free events and concerts than at Christmas time.
- Browse your local council websites for information on any admission-free Christmas events in the area.
- Visit your local churches and scan their information boards for concerts.
- Have a look if your local university has any events organised by their Performing Arts Faculty!
- There are plenty of free online events that you can join on your computer (last year we saw Nutcracker for free on our TV screen – and it was wonderful!).
- If you are buying tickets to see concerts and performances, don’t forget to check if they have age/ occupation-based discounts or offer reduced fares for families/ affiliations and memberships in certain communities.
7. Learn To Enjoy Time At Home
It’s always the same story… We work all year round, then have holidays when we cannot wait to not only leave our home but try and fly as far away as possible to spend our free time at, then Christmas comes and we are all rushing out to dine at restaurants and festive concerts. It just seems that we don’t enjoy being at home we spent money and time decorating and making our own.
Christmas time, in my opinion, is the perfect time to fall in love with spending time at home. Not only will you save money on Christmas overall, but you can create beautiful memories and have lots of festive fun too! Here are some ideas of what to do at home over Christmas:
- Cosy up with a blanket, festive hot chocolate and watch your favourite childhood Christmas movies.
- Play charades, your own version of Mr and Mrs or other TV game shows with family and friends.
- Prepare performances for each other at home and entertain each other based on your skills and talents (or lack of – that’s always entertaining!).
- Cook and eat together.
- If you have snow and a garden, what else do you need? Build a snowman, have a photoshoot, have a snow fight, and make snow angels!
Visit our article on Things To Do At Home Over Christmas, to get inspired for fun but frugal Christmas (coming soon).
8. Keep Decorations Cheap But Tasteful
If you have decorations already, great! Use them, go bonkers if that’s what you want to do! But if you don’t have any and are desperate to decorate your house so “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” everywhere you go, try and keep it simple.
Identify the main things that get you in a Christmas mood: is it the smell of a Christmas tree, is it the floppy Santa hat? Whatever things you love about Christmas, dot them around the house, without having to buy a full set of decorations that will only use up your loft space for most of the year!
After all, if you really love Christmas decorations, maybe you can look out the window and see the beautifully decorated street or neighbours’ house (talk about positive externalities…). Or put a lovely Christmas playlist on your TV screen with a Christmassy video to provide the digital decoration right on your screen! These things won’t cost you much and help you save money on Christmas!
9. Don’t Go To Christmas Sales ‘Just to Browse’
Yes, we’ve all been there! 26th of December is the day huge Christmas sales start and we head to the shops without any clear intentions. And guess what? 9 times out of 10 we will walk out of the sales with something we didn’t know we need up until we saw it discounted.
So why not make a list of things that you absolutely need to buy and take advantage of any (real) discounts on Christmas sales? Anything else you see, just walk past it – you saved a bunch of money over the holiday season, and you will spend it on something really special, not another impulse buy in a sale!
Whether you are on a tight budget over this Christmas season, or simply think that there are better things to spend money on, we hope this Ultimate Guide To Frugal Christmas helped you get some ideas on how you will save money on Christmas this year! Frugal Christmas does not have to be any less special, but it sure can be a lot less expensive! Make memories, collect moments, and enjoy the simplicity of things.
Merry Christmas everyone!