Cut price Christmas

Christmas is a time of joy and generosity, but it is also a time of big spending. From big Christmas dinners to expensive décor and presents, Christmas can put you into debt that you spend most of next year to get out of.

But rather than spend yourself into problems, you can actually make some real savings on Christmas with a little forward planning.

Play your cards right

Sending and receiving Christmas cards is a vital part of most people’s Christmas. Those scenes of snowscapes and robins may be corny, but they help get us all into the Christmas spirit and keep in touch with friends and relatives who live far away.

But with a second class postage stamp costing 66p on top of the price of the card itself, they can soon add up to a major cost. You can send e-cards with services like Moonpig and Funky Pigeon for a small charge, or even free with sites like 123 Greetings.

Christmas decorations

Putting up a bit of glitter is part of the fun of Christmas. If you don’t have a box full of baubles that you can use year after year, you might be able to get a festive mood going with some artfully placed tinsel. If you can find some holly bushes in need of a trim, you can use the leaves and berries to add a Christmas feel that is ecological as well as free – although you need to be careful with the points on the leaves if you have small children.

A tree? You can’t go out and dig one up, but you may be able to save with an artificial tree. They may not have the same evocative real pine smell, but you will not have to spend hours getting the needles out of the carpet. Best of all – you can use it again next year. You may even be able to find one with lights already on it. Wilco do a 6-foot artificial tree for £40, and you can find smaller examples for much less if you check out your local pound stores.

Shopping

Ask any retailer – Christmas is a time for shopping. From toys to gifts of all kinds, the shops will be busy, and the tills will be ringing. You may want to find ways to cut the amount you are handing over.

The best solution to this is to make a list and stick to it. The Christmas shopping trip is fun, but it is all too easy to get carried away and spend much more than you intended.

You could look at online shopping. Amazon has practically everything and often at a lower price than bricks and mortar shops – but for bargain toys check out the offers at Poundtoy and BargainMax – not to mention Lidl.

As an alternative, consider making your own gifts. This idea might bring back bad memories of glue and paper at primary school, but a truly personal gift is always appreciated, and there are actually plenty of ways to make something special, even if you are not a DIY expert. You can find plenty of ideas here.

Entertaining

Having people around is always fun. But providing enough food and perhaps a little more than enough drink can put a big hole in your Christmas budget. The answer is to get everyone to bring a dish and a bottle for sharing. It is a great way to get everybody excited before the event and swap cooking tips when everything is laid out.

There are plenty of recipes online so even non-cooks can provide something tasty.

One last thing to remember – you will need to do a little coordination to ensure you don’t end up with the same dish from everyone. We all like sausage rolls, but if every guest brings them, it can be an awkward evening…

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