Friday, 2 November 2012

Money saving tips for Christmas ...

My first memories of Christmas are from the early seventies which - for those of you who think they came sometime before the dinosaurs! - were a pretty impoverished time all round in Britain.  I am not trying to claim we were on the breadline - we certainly weren't - but we grew up with frequent power cuts which meant tea was cooked on a camping stove, "3 day weeks" and the army collecting the rubbish.

All the uncertainty made people very cautious with their money and I remember vividly how careful Mum was about not wasting anything at Christmas.  I still think of bought gift tags as an incredible extravagance because we always cut them out of last year's cards.  Mum would buy just one new Christmas tree decoration each year and otherwise we used to decorate the tree with painted egg shells. (I would love to recommend the latter as an activity but if you in any way value your sanity, I'm afraid I can't!)  We would go for Sunday walks during December to scavenge holly and have apple pie for every single Sunday lunch in November and December so mince pies could be made at the same time.

This year I want to try and recapture some of that seventies spirit.  Partly just because we could do with saving some money but also because I don't want littl'un to grow up believing that waste and throwing money around is normal.  I cherish the memories of me and Mum and my big sister huddled in the sitting room on dark autumn afternoons making things for Christmas and would love littl'un to experience some of the same.

To help us with this I've rooted out all the best tips I can think of and find on how to enjoy more frugal festivities this year.  I would love to hear your ideas.

Stick to the budget!
  • Work out most you want to spend overall, write a list of everything you've got to buy and assign a max budget to each item
  • Buy everything as early as possible so don't have to throw money at problem in mad rush
  • Agree with other adults to opt out & not buy each other presents
  • If can't push yourself to opt out, agree a price cap with everyone else in family
  • Get a cash back credit card but DON'T use card to increase budget!
  • Think of simple thing you could cut e.g. daily coffee, newspaper between now & Christmas - if you start now and stick to it could save a £100 but again DON'T use to increase budget
  • Make your food shopping list now and start looking for discount offers
  • Look out for vouchers & discount codes
  • Look on eBay now for any new items being sold but don't leave it too late
  • Skype the family on Christmas day rather than calling them!

Recycle & upcycle wrapping
  • Cut gift tags out of last year's Christmas cards
  • Make potato print cards & gift tags of trees & stars
  • Use up fabric scraps to make present bags (check out morsbags)
  • Get a roll of brown paper, wrap presents & then potato print paper carefully
  • Jazz up brown paper with any scraps of ribbon you have in house
  • Only wrap a few of the children's presents as takes them too long to open anyway
  • Wrap small presents for e.g. grandparents in children's drawings
  • Do some Christmas tie-die with an old sheet & wrap presents or make bags
  • Use old scraps of wall paper
  • Start saving cardboard boxes and get children to decorate them

Make decorations
  • Painted, sprayed or glittered pine cones
  • Scavenged holly from a country walk or the park
  • Snowflake paper chains
  • Felt Christmas trees, stars, snowmen, holly leaves, Santas, stockings
  • Pom poms from left over bits of wool
  • Buy cheap loose beads and thread onto wires shaped into stars (only for older kids)
  • Decorate empty glass jars & put night light inside for pretty candle holder
  • Make a Christingle with an orange, candles, cocktail sticks & raisins
  • Twist any wired ribbon scraps you have around a pencil to make a ribbon spiral
  • Paper chains with bits of old wrapping paper or decorate brown paper & then cut out

Craft presents
There's loads of ideas out there on the web but these are some of the ones we're thinking about:
  • Bulbs in paper mached pots
  • Pretty seed envelopes from bits of left over wrapping paper
  • Jars of pickled veg - onions, peppers, aubergines etc with fabric scrap lids 
  • Boxes of home made mince pies & short bread for those who won't make their own
  • Little bags of fudge, toffee or truffles or try Christmas toffee apples
  • Lavender bags - we need to get out next week & scavenge lavender left in the garden
  • Calendars with photos of the children - can order from photo sites but also lots of print off templates around on the web or can make your own in word
  • Jars of bath salts from sea salts, epsom salts, bicarb of soda & drops of essential oil
  • Bulletin board from cardboard covered in fabric scraps
  • Framed hand or foot print
If you like this post you might also find the Christmas Check-list and Christmas Timetable posts helpful.  And if you're getting into the Christmas spirit early do check out the fabulous Rainy Day Mum's weekly Christmas blog hop and her Christmas planning pin board.

If you're interested in other thrifty Christmas ideas visit The Thrifty Home blog.


  1. oooh fab ideas. I like the idea of making presents. x

    1. Am really looking forward to trying out some of these ideas - have roped Grandma into helping which hopefully increases chance of success particularly with fudge making!

  2. a really comprehensive list of ideas! I always keep old cards to recycle as tags and set limits on presents for grown ups but you have loads of other really fab ideas too. Very timely as my sons have today decided it is time to start getting ready for Christmas and have started making some paper chains. x

    1. Am going to have to spend some time next week rummaging through fabric scraps and ribbons to see what we have actually got. I know we have got some left over green felt and literally loads of old buttons so am thinking buttons sewn on little green felt trees with some red cotton (I think we have some) could be nice and well within my fairly limited crafting abilities :-)

  3. So many good ideas too! We have six immediate family bithdays in our family around Christmas so huge planning is involved. Lots of lists and budgeting and handmade gifts. It's the only way. I like your seventies-inspired attitude to cutting back. Gillian x

    1. Oh we've got the Christmas birthdays thing as well - mine is week before Christmas and littl'un's is 2 weeks after.

  4. Very timely, thanks! I will be retreading this in the forthcoming weeks.

  5. I’ll throw a Christmas party in this year. I'll try to follow the financial tips mentioned in the article. I will formulate a budget for the Christmas party. I am currently working in a small medical firm. So, I can’t afford to spend a huge amount on Christmas. Last year, my best friend organized the Christmas party at his house. The party was awesome. He had decorated his house beautifully. The foods were delicious. The Christmas presents were good too.

    Later on, we came to know that my friend had borrowed heavily on credit cards. He couldn’t pay the bills. His credit card accounts were charged-off. Ultimately, he had to resort to debt relief options to fulfill his financial obligations.


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