6 Things I stopped buying at Christmas to save money

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Last Updated on September 10, 2021 by Melissa S.

Christmas is always an expensive time, and many of us end up going overboard with spending in a mad panic in the build up, even if we have been carefully organised beforehand.

Despite the fact that I save up for Christmas throughout the year via Plum , I am definitely still guilty of buying Christmas things that are pretty unnecessary. With that in mind, here are six things I stopped buying at Christmas to save money, clutter and time.

Christmas Cards 

It’s not just the actual cards that are the expense, but sending them can be a fortune! With social media keeping us all connected these days I think significantly fewer people are sending cards, especially when you consider most end up in the recycling in the new year.

I decided I was going to join in a couple of years ago when it cost me around £14 in second class stamps to send, on top of the cost of the cards. Of course, there are a few family members that still expect a card.

If, like me, you want to pare down the card giving but are faced with some friends and relatives who are still full on and would feel hurt not to receive one, you can at least cut down on what you send.

As a compromise, we bought a set of 10 greetings cards for £5 from our daughter’s school featuring her own design and name. This was enough to give to members of both our families at a fraction of the cost, while giving them a personalised design, not to mention supporting school funds. 

If my daughter’s school didn’t do this, I would buy a cheap box of supermarket cards and again only send to those few that the upset of not sending would cancel out any gain (i.e. cantankerous old Aunt Edith and such like.)

Savings: Approx £20 in stamps and cards, plus a couple of hours of time!

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Christmas Crackers

I do love the way a luxury cracker looks on a table set for Christmas dinner, but what I don’t like is the aftermath! A load of cardboard rubbish and plastic tat that either gets binned shortly afterwards or spends the next 3 years cluttering up your kitchen drawers (mini set of screwdrivers and plastic luggage tag, I’m looking at you).

As glam as the more upmarket ones can look, at the end of the day you are swapping anywhere between £3 and £12 for what is ultimately a box of stuff that will end up in the recycle bin shortly after.

Before you start shouting “Bah humbug!” at me, I have to admit if i was hosting a Christmas or New Year’s Eve meal then I probably would buy some for the table. But this year we are doing neither, so I will enjoy the crackers provided by other people at these get togethers but there is literally no reason for me to buy my own this year.

Saving: Approx £7


stopped buying at christmas
Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

New dresses /shoes / accessories

I mentioned in another post about how I would always have to buy myself a new dress or 2 for Christmas parties, and a lot of the time my memories of this process were plodding round the local shopping mall frustrated because I couldn’t find anything I liked, and then choosing something that was merely “ok” just so I could have a new outfit for the party! What madness is that!

This year I have had 2 Christmas parties and both times I have worn existing outfits and shoes. I can’t deny that “new dress” feeling still gives me a confidence boost, however it is worth remembering that as long as you don’t stand out in some negative way,  hardly anyone will notice or care what you are wearing, or how old it might be.

Saving – Anywhere between £30-£100

More and more Christmas decorations

stopped buying at christmas
Photo by Gary Spears on Pexels.com

Decorations are something I’ve stopped buying at Christmas, simply because I have plenty! Obviously you have to start somewhere, so if you are newly moved in to your own place and don’t have any decorations yet then I’m not suggesting not to buy any at all, however I first started buying my own in 2001 so it is fair to say I have more than enough!

I have always been a fan of the more unusual tree decorations that are a bit more commonplace these days – things like cocktail glasses, stilettos and little glass snowstorms. I first started buying these in about 2004 when they were quite unusual. A specialist garden centre stocked them for about £2 each and every year I would enjoy picking more and more.

In addition to this, each year it seemed I would be buying something to add to the collection: extra sets of lights, table ornaments, door wreaths…

I don’t regret buying them as they are used every year to this day, but I do have to stop myself from picking anything Christmas related up these days as we have enough!

Saving: Approx £30 a year

Overestimating the food

We are very frugal with our usual monthly grocery spend which you can read about here. One of our family traditions is therefore in the week before Christmas to do a food shop where we can buy whatever we fancy: expensive crisps, dips, smoked salmon, etc etc. It’s a real treat that we look forward to every year and includes a fry up in the supermarket café!

However, we don’t cook Christmas dinner ourselves as this is hosted at my in laws. We also spend a few days between Christmas and New Year staying with my parents so we found that a lot of the perishable food was going off before we’d have chance to enjoy it.

And then as soon as the New year hit we still had a packs of mince pies and cheese bites left and didn’t really fancy them anymore! We still keep our tradition of buying what we want but plan a bit more carefully about what we actually need. 

Obviously, everyone’s circumstances are different but I know we’re far from the only ones who end up binning a box of mince pies on January 4th. So consider your schedule, plan accordingly, and if possible, freeze anything that may otherwise go to waste.

Read in detail how we budget our Christmas food shop

Saving – approx. £30 in wasted food

Expensive Christmas family events

This isn’t actually something I’ve had to stop, but once you have children you realise how many Christmas experiences are out there and just how much they all cost. I have seen people I know going on 3 or 4 different experiences each year that cost around £50 per family a time. Personally, we couldn’t justify the cost of this but also I think you could get bored the year after if you’ve already done everything on offer!

We have made a rule as a family that we will go to one “special” Christmas event each year and everything else has to be on budget. This year we are going to the lights at Dunham Massey which has cost approx. £50 for the family. It doesn’t include a Santa visit but luckily I know of a few local places where we can visit Santa for around £5 with a gift.

Saving – Approx £50 per event

What do you think of the things I stopped buying at Christmas? Are there any you disagree with or would add to? Let me know in the comments.

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Hi! I'm Melissa

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