With Christmas now just a couple of days away, it’s important to start thinking of how to prepare for the Christmas festivities in a budget-friendly way. To help you avoid going overboard and experiencing the New Year slump, Clare Francis, Director of Savings and Investments at Barclays is offering her top tips so both you and your wallet can enjoy some festive cheer:
1) Start stocking your freezer
With lots of family and friends coming together, one of the biggest costs during the holiday period is often food. Why not spread the cost and also make some savings by looking out for deals on food you can buy fresh and freeze in the months leading up to Christmas. You can also get ahead making puddings and even things like gravy and popping these in the freezer ahead of time ready for the big day!
2) Take advantage of the deals
While it may be tempting to make a beeline for your favourite brands when it comes to wrapping paper, crackers and the other festive staples, taking advantage of the range of deals available can save a lot of money. Most supermarkets start advertising 2-for-1 offers on the Christmas basics months in advance, so make sure to look out for them in the run up to the festive period.
3) Stop funding the fads
Parents can feel pressure to buy into the latest – and often very expensive – trends around children’s toys and gadgets only to find these have gone out of fashion within a few weeks and, in some cases, the box proves more popular than the gift inside! Why not encourage your child to start pulling together their Christmas list a little bit ahead of time and see which items stay front of their festive wish list, and which were more a passing whim.
4) Go digital
If you’re the kind of person who likes to send Christmas cards, this simple gesture of goodwill can end up costing as much as a stocking full of presents. To keep costs down, why not send your friends and family e-Christmas cards this year? There are several websites where you can design and send personalised cards. After all, it’s the thought that counts and you won’t need to worry about the postman getting delayed!
5) Get creative with your festive Christmas decoration
Think outside the box this Christmas for a fun way to decorate and save the pennies. Even empty wine bottles can be transformative decorative pieces, either as elegant candle holders, or get creative with fabric and decorate them to look like Santa Claus or reindeer. If you’re looking to dress a table or small space, consider bringing the outdoors in for a fresh look that doesn’t cost the earth. Pine cones, holly, mistletoe and driftwood should all be readily available during the winter, so head outdoors and get foraging!
6) Look at introducing Secret Santa
Secret Santa is a great way to cut some of the cost of presents not just in friend but also family groups – buying for just one person means you can put more time, thought and money into one fantastic present, rather than stretching yourself to buy something for everyone. Agree a strict budget with everyone taking part, and if you’re stuck for inspiration, consider making a wish list that people can feed into.
7) Regift unsuitable presents
We all know what it is like to receive the odd present that we know we’re never going to use. Instead of binning it or leaving it to gather dust at the back of a cupboard, regift it to someone you know will make good use of it. The art of regifting can save you precious pennies around Christmas and stop perfectly good gifts going to landfill. Just make sure you don’t regift it to the person who gave it to you originally!