Last Updated on October 23, 2021 by Melissa S.
It may be October, but I’ve been chatting to other bloggers about their best UK money saving Christmas hacks in order to get prepared for the big day.
After all, is it ever too early to save money for Christmas? Even though I am the type of person who despairs to see shops full of decorations by October, I firmly believe that preparation is the key to an affordable, debt free Christmas.
According to a 2020 survey by McCarthy & Stone, the average British person spent £419 on Christmas in 2020, which was a £150 decrease on 2019 and 2018. With the tier system in place last December and families restricted on meeting up, this drop in spending may be understandable. Despite this however, Brits still spend more on Christmas than any other European country.
But what is “average” anyway? Everyone’s own circumstances and commitments vary so much, not to mention the funds they have at their disposal, so comparison in this way is not a great help. If you have 20 people to buy Christmas presents for and host Christmas dinner for 14, your expense is going to be much greater than those with a smaller circle.
That’s why focusing on creating your OWN Christmas budget, listing every expense you have (and then sticking to it) is key. If only it was that simple, right?!
If you find there’s not enough money to cover the total, then the first thing you might want to look at is reducing your Christmas budget.
But where to start – and can you even do Christmas on a tight budget? I reached out to some of the UK blogging community to find out their best UK money saving Christmas hacks.
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Budgeting for Christmas
Having an affordable Christmas definitely begins with the budget. In my ebook Ultimate Guide To A Debt Free Christmas, I talk about the importance of saving for Christmas all year round. However, you can still take action now to get some money saved up ahead of time.
Here’s our UK Blogger’s budgeting ideas for Christmas:
“Try to save for Christmas as early as possible, by saving £20 a month you could have £240 by December. In the lead up to Christmas I also try to earn extra money (as well as gift card credit and loyalty points) to put towards gift buying”. Emma, EarnMoneyDoGood
“Set a budget and stick to it. Try not to buy anything for the sake of it. Focus on creating memories & having fun.” Adam – Money Savvy Daddy
I couldn’t agree more with Jenny on this, as I have used Plum to budget for Christmas for a number of years now! The best part is I don’t even notice the withdrawals and I have around £500 set aside for Christmas each year.
How do you buy Christmas presents on a budget?
Buying Christmas presents on a tight budget is possibly one of the biggest challenges many of us face and makes up a considerable amount of the Christmas budget. It is also the area we are most likely to overspend on.
Reducing the number of gifts we are buying could be one solution, as these bloggers advise:
“If you want to save money on gifts, try setting up a secret Santa with your friends and family. Don’t forget to set a budget everyone is comfortable with!” Katie, The Twenty Percent
Vicki from Tackling Our Debt agrees:
“Don’t feel as though you have to spend money on everyone, not even family. Perhaps a Secret Santa would be a good idea for relatives, especially if you have a lot of them.”
As Chantele from Two Hearts, One Roof points out:
“One decent gift you will actually like or want is better than 5 cheaper ones… And it keeps the cost down for everyone. We’ve been doing this for 5 years with hubby’s family as their wis now 14 adults… It’s so much better and more fun.”
Victoria from LyliaRose has this suggestion for reducing the number of gifts children receive:
“We now do the rule of four for our children, but we change it slightly to ‘something you want, something you need, something to eat, something to read’. It keeps spending in check and they are always excited to receive something from each category!”
Of course, reducing the number of people you buy for is not possible in every family for various reasons. So reducing the amount you spend – without sacrificing the quality of the gift – is a good way of addressing this.
Freebies for Christmas Presents
“You can save money by getting freebies from supermarket cashback apps and find free samples online via freebie sites to make personal Christmas hampers. You can also enter competitions close to Christmas for your chance to win free Christmas gifts for friends and family.” Colette, Cashback Collette
“Enter as many competitions as you can to win gifts for the family. There are thousands of free entry giveaways on social media, with prizes ranging from toys and books to gadgets and vouchers.” Di – SuperLucky.me
Not specifically free, but selling sites and charity shops could be a great way to maximise your budget, especially for children’s toys as Emily from Emily and Indiana points out:
“Don’t think you have to buy everything brand new! Places like facebook, ebay and charity shops are AMAZING places to find toys that are hardly used at great prices. Kids don’t care where their gifts came from!”
Buy in the sales
This is my personal tip, especially as Black Friday is now a fully established sales event in the UK. I’m not as keen personally on buying presents on Boxing Day for the following year, but it is still a viable way of saving money on higher value items.
“Start making a list of present ideas and anything you really like add to a site like Shoptagr who can track the prices in case it goes down in price. And if there are specific items you want, keep a note of them for Black Friday to save some money.”
“I spent £140 in the Boots Boxing Day Sale and got lots of lovely gift sets for my family and friends. This has meant that my shopping list for this year is now for my partner and 2 daughters. Use post it notes and write the name of the recipient on each and also make a list so that you can look back at it throughout the year, so you don’t double buy gifts.” – Lynne, The Swan Effect Mum
“Do your online Christmas shopping through cashback sites, if you’re spending out anyway you may as well get some of that money back! It only takes a few extra clicks so is well worth the effort.” Hayley, Miss Manypennies
This is another tip I use myself, because as Hayley points out, you are spending the money anyway so you might as well earn cashback on it! My favourites are TopCashback and Airtime Rewards.
Tracy from Mind Over Money Matters says:
“Think small. We all love giving and receiving gifts so our family gifts items with a £10 max budget- but luxury. For example an Elemis shower gel, or luxury jam / lemon curd. Or wool socks. Something that’s a treat -and will actually get used! Timing is important too – buy in the sales or Black Friday and use loyalty points.
I really like this tip – I would much rather receive a luxury £10 shower gel that I would never normally splash out on myself, than a generic gift set full of cheaper bits I won’t use.
Make Homemade Christmas Presents
Of course, if you’re crafty you could try making gifts for friends and family. Here are some great DIY Christmas gift ideas from our UK Bloggers that will cost you a fraction of the price compared to buying:
“For adults, start now to make homemade flavoured vodka and gin as presents. Blackberry, damson, citrus… Cheap supermarket spirits are fine.” Sara, Debt Camel
“Every year we have a glut of plums, so I make plum jam, pop a cute label on the jar and give that away. Perhaps make a small hamper up with bread and cheese to go with it.” Nikki, Fruit Picking Farms
“Instead of buying endless boxes of biscuits for extended family, if you have children, making handmade decorations for the Christmas tree is not only a fun Christmas activity for them but also makes a lovely gift that will be treasured for years to come. You could get your little ones to decorate some salt dough Christmas shapes for your relatives to hang on their Christmas tree.” Jennifer, Ricecakes and Raisins
“Make your own Christmas presents. I make something with my little girl every year for her grandmothers and aunties. Like a salt dough or air drying clay decoration or a homemade calendar. Plus I sew something for the ladies on my Christmas list. I’ve made coasters, handful holders, keyrings and mini fabric Christmas trees before!” Jo, A Rose Tinted World
“Create a Movie Night box by wrapping a shoebox in Christmas paper, add in a bag of popcorn,a DIY “ticket” to a movie on Netflix, and a few other treats from the £1 store and you are giving your gift receiver permission to have a well earned rest over Christmas.” – Catherine Morgan
Christmas food on a budget
After the presents, Christmas food is probably the next biggest expenditure. Whether you’re hosting Christmas dinner, a Boxing Day or New Years Eve party, or possibly even all 3, our food budgets can rise significantly over Christmas.
Of course, everyone likes to indulge at this time of year, but that doesn’t mean breaking the bank! Here’s how to get Christmas food on a budget:
“As long as you’re prepared to peel your own vegetables, the supermarket veg price wars start mid-December and see all your seasonal vegetable prices slashed to as low as 14p per bag.” Claire, Money Saving Central
I recapped Save Money Good Food’s challenge to make Christmas dinner for £5 a while back & a lot of the tips still stand, like making sharing food instead of individual starters or desserts on Christmas day, or for any other Christmas parties you host.” – Save Like A Bear
“If you have room (and will power) I like to buy a couple of snacks each week in the food shopping to save money on the big Christmas shop just before Christmas Day.” – Angela, Exploring Dorset – this is my personal tip too and something I cover in depth within Ultimate Guide to a Debt Free Christmas.
Budget and DIY Christmas Decorations
Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, greetings cards…all these seemingly small items can seriously add up in cost. Personally I had a bit of a cull on some of these extras, however there are still plenty of ways to save on the ones you do need, as these UK Bloggers suggest:
“You could make your own easy Christmas decorations. Getting crafting can be fun for the whole family as a festive activity.” – Naomi, Skint Dad.
I love some of the ideas in this post and will definitely be trying them out with my daughter!
“I use my children’s drawings (scribbles!) over the year as wrapping paper and Christmas cards! It makes it much more personal and also saves on waste as young children waste a lot of paper with scribbles!” Jodie, Jodetopia
“I use fabric offcuts to wrap up the presents – the fabric is returned so I can use year on year or swapped between family members! The fabric was all from eBay or charity shops.” Louise, Thimble and Twig – This is a great environmentally friendly tip as well as being much nicer and cheaper!
“I always raid the sales racks in the likes of Asda, Tesco and other places for Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, lights and other bits like that just after Christmas. It helps replace broken decorations and saves money where wrapping paper and tags are concerned.” – Catherine, Wales With Kids
“Take an inventory of the decorations you already have so you don’t end up buying anything too similar this year while they’re still in storage. I have a folder of photos on my phone to keep track of what we have.” Rhian Westbury
Budget UK Christmas Experiences and Traditions
It can be tempting to want to do every Christmas experience out there while your children are small and still believe in the magic of Christmas. However, it seems like every venue now has its own Christmas “experience” event and these can quickly mount up in cost.
Here’s some tips to save money on Christmas experiences without breaking the bank:
“The Kids Pass app is a great way of saving money on Christmas activities for the whole family. We use it regularly in our family to get 40% off cinema tickets. Taking the family to a Christmas film could be an affordable alternative to some of the more pricey Christmas experiences out there.” – Avalyn, Discount Days Out
“Christmas days out / experiences can be booked up and very expensive! My children really enjoy a drive and walk around to see Christmas lights in the neighbourhood. Play Christmas songs, Pack some festive snacks and hot chocolate in a flask for the journey!” Charlotte, Team Stein Blog
Want more budget Christmas experience ideas? Steph from Funding her Freedom has a roundup of more ideas to create Christmas memories with your loved ones without having to break the budget.
How ELSE could you organise your BUDGET this Christmas?
Have you been inspired by our UK money saving Christmas hacks? If you want more ideas, these bloggers have some more great tips to save money and reduce stress this Christmas:
Corinne from Your Perfect Christmas has 9 ways to make extra cash for Christmas in this post.
In this post, Ruth of Money Savvy Mum Uk writes about the Best Ways to Budget Money for Christmas
Laura of Financielle writes here about how to have a pressure free buying strategy this Christmas.