Our festive starter pack (without breaking the bank) cheers to that!

By Natasha Culzac

Christmas needn’t break the bank with a little planning ahead, a lot of creativity, and some help from the family.

If December is the month where your blood pressure lurches forward faster than Usain Bolt, maybe it’s time you gave your Christmas Day plans a bit of a health check, to see where savings can be made and stresses can be shelved. We’ve compiled a list of Christmas money-saving tips.

With next year’s festive period forecast to begin in August, it may seem more sensible to start organising for Christmas 2017 – but fear not; early December is not too late for some last-minute planning. Here are a few things you can do ahead of the 25th to get you started.

1) Establish a budget

The average family will fork out up to £800 on celebrations, and while that is a lofty figure, you are far less likely to go overboard if you keep tabs on your seasonal spending with a cut-off figure in mind. You’ll also do your doctor a favour by keeping your post-Christmas anxiety levels down when the time for checking your bank balance rolls around.

2) Plan your gifts

It’s likely that 2015 was not the first year you realised, on the evening of the 23rd, that the savings from your basket of online bargains would be wiped out by the next-day delivery needed for their timely arrival. Decide on your gifts now, order them three to five business days before Christmas Eve, and avoid having to create a second email address to get an Amazon Prime free trial.

3) … And while you’re online…

Why not recruit some aid from an automated personal assistant? Money Saving Expert’s MegaShopBot will instantly compare prices for thousands of items at different retailers. That’s better than trudging back and forth between John Lewis and Debenhams to find the cheapest Nespresso machine on the high street.

4) Split the food burden

As host, you’ll have to provide the meat but if you have a grandmother who makes a mean cranberry sauce, or an uncle who can be trusted to rustle up a few parsnips, ask them to bring along a platter. Maybe drop a little compliment on your sister’s Brussels sprouts into your next family conversation.


5) Let the turkey go

Swap a medium turkey for two large chickens, and watch the extra pounds pile up in your purse and on your waistline. You might ruffle a few feathers at the dinner table (pun intended), but the meat is more succulent and not as hotly demanded. If the turkey is non-negotiable, Aldi will throw in all the trimmings for less than half the price at M&S.

6) Ditch the tinsel for a Christmas card display

If you are popular enough to amass a collection of seasonal greetings that would put a primary school teacher to shame, make it a showpiece out of it. Your well-wishers will literally be paying for your Christmas decorations, post and packing included! You could even supplement your card decoration with a 48-piece Argos bauble kit for just £6.99.

7) Or better yet, create your own!

You may have seen the magazines Good Housekeeping or CountryLiving on the shelves in your local Co-op, but honestly, now is the time to pick one up. They have a bottomless barrel of ideas when it comes to cheap, yet rustic and beautiful DIY Christmas decorations. For example, making reindeer ornaments out of old wine corks, or painting a tree on a old shipping crate which you can probably ask a local business for nicely or buy cheaply on eBay. Also, Sweet-filled paper cones make great alternative baubles.

8) Turn to IKEA

If you’re in a pickle over the Christmas tree, our favourite Swedes have got you covered. Their trees may not be made of the Scandinavian pine that forms their bedside drawers, but they’re cheap and include a £20 voucher. You’ll be able to make your dad’s Christmas with the ready-to-assemble cabinet he’s always dreamed of.


9) It’s a wrap!

For wrapping paper (no, you cannot give your gifts in the cardboard box they were packaged in), get yourself to Poundland. You’ll find everything you need for as little as…well…err… a pound!


10) Run the numbers

Give The Money Advice Service’s Christmas Money Planner a whirl. It may be too late to help this year, but it’ll give you an idea of how disastrous your finances will be over the next three weeks.


Top Takeaway: A little planning goes a long way in the weeks before Christmas. Decide on your budget, and leave yourself enough time to shop around for the best deals. Closer to the day, get creative! You’d be surprised at the resources you have at home, be they household items, family members, or Christmas dinner tricks.


By Natasha Culzac, 

Thanks to a journalistic career history and a childhood at Sylvia Young Theatre School, Natasha has her fingers in a few professional pies, doing her best impression of a model and actor as well as personal finance writer. Outside of work she compulsively watches BBC period dramas and constantly lies to herself that this year will be the year she learns French, once and for all.

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