Christmas on a budget: how to prepare
Christmas is well on the way, and while there’s still no need to panic, we all know that affording the celebrations can become a worry, especially when you’re living on a budget. However, if you’re creative and explore your options you could definitely save some money.
Christmas is hardly advertised as a simple time where you just spend time with the people you love and give a few presents. There are all the additional trimmings that put a strain on your budget – the food, the drink, the tree, the decorations, the wrapping paper, the Christmas cards. One simple way to be more frugal is by taking stock of what parts of Christmas you could feasibly do without, and reduce the amount you spend on them or indeed cut them out entirely.
I don’t know about you, but I always skip past the Christmas cards to get to the presents. Sometimes to save money I cut out cards entirely, but you might just need to decide who’d really appreciate a card and whose will probably end up in the recycling bin. Your friends might appreciate it if you get creative and make your own cards. Why not take a family picture and write a message on the back? This is personal and simple, plus if it’s a digital photo it’s easy to send by email, cutting down postage costs. There are also lots of free eCards online for Christmas. You could print letters and even decorate them yourself. Some well-chosen words might be more meaningful than something pre-written in a card anyway. You might consider sending postcards as they may cost less to post than regular cards or delivering yourself if it’s not too far.
Gifts are a big part of Christmas, especially when you’re young. Gifts are also one of the most stressful and expensive parts of Christmas, especially when you’re older! One thing you might want to think about is agreeing with the adults in your life that you’re only going to buy presents for the children. If you really want everyone to get a present, you could agree a limit of £5 per person. Money Saving Expert has a list of 50 presents that cost a fiver or less, in case you’re in need of inspiration. Alternatively, why not try making your own presents or giving your natural skills and time as a gift? For example, if you know someone with children, the gift of a night off while you babysit might be really appreciated.
You never know, your friends, family and colleagues might be struggling to pay for presents as well, so why not suggest a secret Santa? That way, everyone buys just one present each. As well as being easier on your budget, you could make their Christmases easier too by pooling resources. You could do a ‘bring and share’ dinner at your house on Christmas Day where everyone brings a dish. You could swap decorations you no longer need between friends. You never know what you might bag in the process!
Your energy bills are something else to bear in mind when it comes to decorations. Leaving your Christmas lights on all day could add up to a hefty sum. Either use cheap, low energy, LED ones or go uber low tech with the classic tinsel and baubles. There are plenty of ideas online for decorations you can make too. Keep energy bills in mind when you’re cooking dinner too. Things like boiling veg in one big pot, using fewer appliances and keeping the lid on a saucepan will cut down the energy you’re using and therefore the cost.
This all being said, just remember that no matter how much you spend this Christmas, the most valuable thing is spending time with the people you love and celebrating God’s unending love – after all, God really isn’t bothered how tall your Christmas tree is or how many presents you buy.