Money-saving blogger Miss Thrifty offers her tips to keeping costs down this Christmas…
When it comes down to it, a happy Christmas isn’t about the money – it’s about the experience.
When Christmas nears, the pressure is on to spend. However with a few shortcuts and a dash of creativity, you’ll find that even a modest budget can go a long way. Here are some of my favourite tips and ideas for making Christmas a special and memorable time for all the family – without spending a fortune.
Set your budget in advance
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, because it is key to having a thrifty Christmas: set your budget in advance. If you don’t know how much you have available to spend, it is all too easy for the bills to soar as you become caught up in the panic of Christmas shopping. Once you have an overall total, divide it into a gift budget, a food budget and a budget to cover everything else, and work from there.
Make your own Christmas decorations
The prettiest Christmas decorations are usually the most expensive, but you can make your own using value ingredients from the supermarket aisles. Salt dough decorations are quick and easy, and fun to make with your children. Just mix a cup of salt with two cups of plain flour. Gradually add a cup of water, mix into a dough, and roll out. Cut out trees, stockings and other Christmas shapes, leave for 48 hours to dry out, then paint and decorate. Don’t forget the hole in the top of each decoration, for threading onto a string and hanging from the tree.
I also recommend a new book from Usborne: Christmas Decorations to Cut, Fold & Stick (£6.39). The tear-out pages are filled with beautiful Christmas prints, and the book comes with instructions on how to turn the pages into pretty and stylish Christmas decorations, from paper chains to angels for the tree. All you need is a pair of scissors and some sellotape. There is enough here to decorate your house from top to bottom – for less than £7.00!
Make your own Christmas tree!
Real Christmas trees can cost from £30 upwards and, although there are plenty of fake trees available, they aren’t to everyone’s taste. If your budget is modest but you like a challenge, put your imagination to work. You can find some interesting ideas for DIY Christmas trees here – this year, armed with a ball of wool, we’re making the “yarn tree”.
Make the most of deals and discounts
Even now, in the run-up to Christmas, there are plenty of great deals to be had. If you have a Tesco Clubcard, you can exchange £5 of vouchers into £10 of tokens to spend by 13 December – or 19 December, if you shop at Tesco Direct or for clothing online.
Use web tools to save money
Voucherfor.it is a browser add-on for Google Chrome users. When you visit online retailers (including Tesco Direct), a blue bar appears at the top of your screen with the latest voucher codes and discount deals for each site you visit.
Sit back and relax
Christmas comes with its own set of pressures, from getting all the shopping done in time, to staying up late wrapping presents and cooking on the day. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you spend, however: if you spend Christmas Day rushed off your feet, dashing from one task to the next, where’s the fun in that? When it comes down to it, a happy Christmas isn’t about the money – it’s about the experience.
Swoop on the January sales
The best time to buy Christmas items, from cards to crackers, is during January when the shops sell off their Christmas stock at knockdown prices. If you want to get organised and have a thrifty Christmas in 2013, start early…
Miss Thrifty blogs at www.miss-thrifty.co.uk