I love Christmas, I love the preparations, the excitement, the food and unlike some I actually love the shopping! I take a great amount of joy in finding the best deals on toys for the children, finding unique and special gifts for friends and family and managing to source a couple of surprises for my lovely husband. One thing I don't like though is worrying that i'm spending too much. As you will know, however carefully we budget and plan, things always creep up on us and this year we have had to replace two large appliances and have some work done on the car in the last month so things have been even tighter than usual. That is why I've been looking around for some tips to enjoy a big festive celebration this year while spending a little less than I usually would. I've brought together ten of the best ways I found to spend less this Christmas with some fabulous inspiration from other bloggers:
Make Your Own Festive Decorations
Give Handmade Gifts:
Last year the whole family got involved in making gifts for teachers and nursery staff and these Gingerbread cookies were very well received! Hand made gifts from the children are lovely and always take pride of place on the grandparent's mantlepiece or dresser but us 'grown ups' can make gifts too! Blue Bear Wood makes a Pampering Beauty Hamper with Bath Soak and Lip Balm. The Brick Castle shows us how to make some delicious sounding home made Fudge.
For me giving gifts isn't about buying the latest gadget or must have toy. It's about making somebody smile knowing that I have spent time thinking about what they want or like doing. Sometimes I have found the best gifts second hand searching on ebay or even scouring around charity shops or carboot sales. It's also worth remembering that when you buy your gifts from a charity shop you are giving twice, once to your friend or family member and secondly to the charity that is helping to fund research or provide care for the needy. Me and My Shadow took part in a Charity Shop Challange and found some great gifts from charity shops.
I've always said that entering competitions is a great way to get a few extra gifts that you wouldn't usually be able to afford at Christmas. As it happens my eldests' main present this year is a LEGO Movie set that we won a few months ago. He will be delighted with it! On the run up to Christmas there are lots of competitions running at the moment that just take a minute or two to enter, from stocking fillers to some rather exiting prizes! You can take a look at Mymummyspennies Giveaways here and pop over to Superlucky for a great selection of competitions hosted on other blogs. Many toy brands are also running fantastic 12 Days of Christmas Promotions over on facebook, I've been entering a few including the one from Toys R Us that has some amazing prizes!
Bake it Yourself
As I've been doing my grocery shopping over the last few weeks I have spotted more and more gorgeous looking treats from Christmas cakes to festive biscuits and chocolates. As easy as it is to pop a box in your trolley it all adds up. Why not raid the baking supplies in your kitchen cupboards and see what you can throw together yourself? If you need some inspiration take a look at these Stained Glass Window Cookies from ET Speaks from Home or these Christmas Cupcakes from CasaCostello
Sometimes you get the perfect gifts and other times people just get it wrong. They have good intentions but the end result is that despite ranting regulary on how much you hate the colour pink you unwrap that beautiful packaged gift on December the 25th to find the handbag you'd been wishing for... in hot pink. Or a lovely pair of fluffy slippers two sizes too small. Or it could be that people get it so right that you end up with a fabulous Cath Kidston Ipad case... twice. If you have a gift receipt then fantastic, you usually have until mid January to exchange but if not then it's likely that these unwanted gifts will stay at the top of the wardrobe until next year. Why not get them out and see if you know anyone that will appreciate them more than you? (Just make sure you remember who gave them in the first place!) If you don't remember then why not gift them to someone you don't know? Maybe your local women's refuge or other charity?
Have a Free Festive Day out!
We have lots of Grotto's local to us at the moment and my children have been lucky enough to visit a couple, they have enjoyed chatting to Father Christmas and looks at the festive scenery and decorations but you don't need to spend money to have a festive day out. Check out your local council's website for local festive fayres and events (these are often free or have a small charitable donation to enter) and why not even pop down to your local garden centre and enjoy looking around the decorations, you don't have to buy anything! On Sunday 14th of December Altrincham Ice Skating Club will be bringing Disney's favourite Princesses, Anna and Elsa to Spinningfields Ice Rink in Manchester to perform a free Frozen on Ice show for all the family. (You can book to skate with the stars for a charge afterwards if you wish).
Earn Money when you Spend it
Once you have made sure you are getting the best price for what you are buying the next thing is get as much money back in cashback as you can. There are a few different ways you can do this the two main Cashback sites are TopCashBack and Quidco. I'd recommend signing up to both of these as they can both offer competitive deals on different sites, so just do a quick check to see which is the best before you make a purchase. If you pay using paypal when shopping online you can boost your cashback by linking up your paypal account also. You can also link them up to your debit cards so that you earn money back when you spend in store to. As well as these site many credit card company offer rather impressive cashback deals around this time of year as well, just remember that it's only worth signing up to these if you pay your balance off in full each month as otherwise your interest will cost you more than any cashback you earn!
Don't Buy it
If you don't need it then just don't buy it.
It's easy to say but can be a lot harder to follow through with. Sometimes you have to say no, and often you have to say no to yourself as much as your children. 'Just one more present', 'But it's a bargain', 'I'd better buy another just in case' are all phrases I've used to justify spending more money when I knew I shouldn't. You CAN give your family an amazing Christmas without going into the red and you are likely to enjoy it that much more if you aren't dreading the credit card bills arriving in January.
I hope these ideas will help you spend a little less this year and still have a fabulous Christmas!
If I've got you feeling thrifty why not check out these other festive money saving posts:
Having a £10 Christmas
Easy Moneysaving Tips for Christmas