We know it’s only September and it feels a bit early to think about Christmas yet. However, if you leave it until the last minute, it can be very easy to let your spending spin out of control and you could find yourself paying it off into 2019.
It is possible to have a great Christmas without breaking the bank, but this does involve a little bit of planning and setting some ground rules. Here are our top tips for a great Christmas.
Dealing with expectations
Children love Christmas and the build-up can get them really excited. It is important to manage their expectations to avoid disappointment, for example, don’t make promises that can’t be kept. Older children are easier as you can sit them down in advance to explain and agree on a reasonable budget. Younger children will need to be dealt with slightly differently. Try persuading them to ask for a surprise from Santa rather than a specific item. For families with more than one young child, think about reducing the amount of presents per child and encouraging them to share.
If you’re separated and both involved in your children’s lives, have a discussion to avoid doubling up and, as hard as it may be, try not to compete against each other.
Secret Santa or family presents
Whether it’s for work, family or friends, Secret Santa is always a winner to help keep the cost down. Make sure you agree a budget and stick to it!
Another idea could be to buy a gift for the whole family to enjoy, i.e. a board game, hamper or family day out such as a treasure hunt. Sometimes making a family hamper can be cheaper and more fun as you can shop around for great deals and fill it with things you know they’ll like.
Only buy for children
If you have a large family or a big group of friends, agree in advance to only buy for the children and have a cut-off point once they’ve reached a certain age, such as 18 years old.
Christmas IOU voucher
We all know items tend be cheaper after Christmas thanks to the January sales. To cash in on this, why not create an IOU voucher to be given on Christmas Day which can be redeemed in the sales. Money Saving Expert has even created a Christmas IOU Generator personalised voucher.
Give your time as a present
Do you have a service you could offer for free? Could you give a haircut or massage, offer to do the cleaning or gardening or even cook a special meal for a loved one?
Discount grocery shopping
If you don’t already, it does pay to swap to a discount grocery supermarket. What you save could go in a kitty towards Christmas.
You’re not feeding the 5,000!
With temptation everywhere, it’s hard not to go overboard on the food shop, but think about what you really need. Why not have a chicken or a turkey crown instead of a whole turkey? Be strict and plan your meals over Christmas. Not only will you save £s but you might avoid the extra pounds around the waist too!
Plan in other activities
Don’t make Christmas Day all about opening presents and food. Arrange other activities too; play a family game or go for a nice walk along the beach or in the woods.
Prioritise your spending
We all like to have a good time at Christmas and spoil our loved ones but it’s important to prioritise your rent and bills.
Debt worries over Xmas? Get help
Sadly, Christmas isn’t jolly for all. If you (or a friend) have debt worries, get help from Citizens Advice.