Money saving at Christmas. Part 1.

As always, I’ve begun my Christmas shopping early this year! To be honest, it normally starts in the January sales for the following Christmas! We have a large family, and lots of people to buy for each year… and it gets expensive! A few years ago now, I realised just how much money we were spending on Christmas – it was getting out of control – so I decided to make a real effort to save some money. I was even featured in That’s Life magazine with some of my tips – Rather hilariously they posed the question asking if I was “Mrs Scrooge?” which did make me laugh!

That's Life Magazine

I appreciate that not everyone can afford to give Christmas gifts, or be able to give to as many people as they would like to – so I’ve listed a few cute ideas that just take a little bit of effort, but can save a fair few pounds!

Ready? Then I’ll begin…

I like to start off by making a list of people to buy for and keep a running tally of what I buy, so I don’t forget things and end up buying duplicates! This way, I stick to the list and don’t end up making emergency purchases! I even keep the list digitally on my phone – that way the list remains a secret, I can update it after each purchase, and I don’t have to worry about losing a sheet of paper or forgetting what I’ve bought!

A promise goes a long way… I like to be generous with our friends and family – but if I were to buy something for everyone, we’d be broke! In the past, I have been known to make up a label with a promise on it, unique to that person – For example, I promise to babysit your kids one night, so you can go out dancing… or – I promise to cook a Sunday dinner for you and your family one weekend etc. You get the picture! For kids – I find the best promises are things like, I promise I will take you to the park to fly your kite, or I promise to take you to the seaside in the summer for a donkey ride & an ice cream. It gives the person something to look forward to, spreads the cost out of the course of the year (if there is a cost involved) and shows that you’ve been thoughtful towards them. Previously, I’ve made large labels and decorated them with ribbons and Christmas designs – but you could just as easily make yours like a cheque or a gift-card.

If you’re not going to see your relatives until AFTER the big day, consider not buying their gifts until the sales are on! I really wished I had done this last year… an item I had bought (thinking it was a bargain at the time) went on to be further discounted in the sales – and the whole time it sat neatly wrapped under the tree until we saw the recipient several days later! Looking back, I have often fallen into the trap of wanting something in time for Christmas day, only to realise that it probably could have waited a little longer.

Have you ever realised how expensive nice gift wrapping paper is? I did – a few years ago! I remember wanting a really deluxe wrapping paper, but it was over £6 for a roll of the stuff… I almost bought it, but then thought to myself, it’s literally like putting £6 in the bin! I knew the paper would only end up being torn & thrown away so I couldn’t justify spending the money. Instead, I got some sample sheets of wallpaper with a lovely metallic silver design on it. It looked really luxurious & festive once I’d wrapped the box in it and added a ribbon. Because the paper was so thick, it was actually much easier to wrap the box too! This is one of my top tips! I can’t recommend this enough!

Another great tip is to do with Christmas Crackers! I always buy fairly cheap ones and make them nicer by adding my own gifts inside and adding nice ribbons to the outside. As long as they go “Bang” when they are pulled – who cares how much you spent on them! Yet another thing that only ends up in the bin in all honesty…

I don’t know about you, but I have often spent a small fortune on Christmas cards and postage… In order to save a few quid, I always buy next years Christmas cards in the sales and put them to one side. I hardly send any cards out nowadays – mainly because I like to make up an e-card and either email it or post it on social media, for our friends and family. It’s free – it just takes a bit of time & effort to put it together! There are loads of websites you can use to lay text over a photograph nowadays, so you’d be able to do this, even if you’re not particularly creative. When our son, Henry, was very little, I liked to dress him in a cute Santa’s outfit and let him be the star of the e-card! We have many friends and family who live overseas, so it’s a great way to let them know we’re thinking of them without the costly international postage – and it means you can do it anytime on the lead up to Christmas, without being dictated to by cut off dates at the Post Office!

Right – that’s it for now! I’ll be putting some more money saving Christmas tips up on my blog another day…

Anna x

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