Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but it can also be an expensive time of year. With presents, decorations, seeing friends and family, and events, the costs add up very quickly. If you are saving or tight on money, it does not mean you cannot enjoy Christmas. There are ways to have a joyful Christmas without going into debt.
The key to enjoying Christmas is to start planning in advance. Make a Christmas fund a regular part of your budget and set aside money into a Christmas account when you receive each paycheck. Even £30 or £50 a month could make a difference to the quality of your Christmas. Having this specific account means the cost is spread more evenly throughout the year rather than putting a lot of strain on your October or November pay. It will also mean you don’t have to reach for the credit card when purchasing presents or hosting Christmas dinner.
Prioritise What You Enjoy
Set a game plan when going into the Christmas season of how you want to prioritise your funds. Write down all the things you like doing at Christmas and all the things you dislike. Not all Christmas traditions are fun for everyone, so this is a great excuse to avoid the things you would rather not do. You could decide to skip the pantomime this year in exchange for getting your partner something special for Christmas. Or you could coordinate with friends to do larger group catchups rather than a lot of little catchups with individuals. Your friends will understand; their wallets and calendars are likely feeling the strain too.
Set Gift Limits
It is our humble opinion that all gifts not for your immediate family (your partner and children) should have a budget. If you spend Christmas with your parents and siblings and their children, then set strict rules about budget and who gets gifts. Your family will be thankful for this. In some families, only the little kids get gifts, and the adults enjoy the food and booze. In other families, everyone gets gifts, but the limit is set at £20 or £40. Gift limits with family and friends can reduce the financial strain and open up a discussion about whether presents are actually important. Most people may not actually want presents from all their friends as it adds to their present buying list. As adults, people have the means to buy the things they want and do not need extra things taking up their precious storage space.
Have Smaller Catchups
Throughout the month of December, there is a multitude of Christmas activities to be done. It can be tempting to catch up with friends to make your own baubles or have a Christmas roast every other week, but they’re not necessary. You can just go for lunch or a coffee as usual if you prefer. This comes back to the prioritisation tip. Work out what things you want to do and focus your money around them instead of getting caught up with the hype of Christmas.
Ask People to Bring Drinks
Hosting a Christmas meal can end up being expensive! But a large portion of the cost is usually booze. Ask everyone in attendance to bring a bottle of wine or whatever they want to drink to help pitch in. You can still provide a bottle or two, but it is much cheaper than having to buy ten or more bottles of wine for a party.
Find Fun Free Activities to Do
You can have a lot of Christmas fun without spending money; in fact many of the best parts of Christmas do not cost a thing. Consider these frugal-friendly activities:
- Go for a walk to look at the Christmas lights
- Drink hot chocolates while watching Christmas movies
- Listen to Christmas music
- Spend time with family and close friends
- Make handmade Christmas decorations with the kids (great inspiration on Pinterest)
- Bake Christmas cookies
- Go Christmas carolling
Limit Your Light-Based Decorations
Having Christmas lights on the outside of your home or even having lots of Christmas lights inside your home can run up your light bill very quickly. But there are plenty of Christmas decorations that do not use power, so focus your decorating around them. If you do use Christmas lights on your tree, limit the time it is on. Put the lights on for a couple of hours in the evening while the whole family is in the living room rather than just leaving it on most of the day.