1. Set a Christmas budget in advance. Before the frenzy of Christmas time descends, work out how much you’re able and prepared to spend on Christmas festivities, gifts, and catering. The amount will depend on how much you’ve already saved, how much you can set aside from current funds, and how much you can spare in the weeks leading up to Christmas. If you start early enough, you’ll have more leeway to save a bit more.
• Work out how much you want to spend on people for presents and include decorations, food, and whatever else you think you will need.
• Stick to your budget – it’s the indicator of what you can and cannot afford.
• Consider starting a budget straight after Christmas for future years. Start saving early, put money into a savings account each month or week and stick to it. Doing this will give you a lump sum to spend in December rather than scraping together money. Budget well – this should include food, decorations, presents and anything else you may buy at Christmas.
2.Talk to family about the costs and gifts. Sit down and make decisions about limits on gifts. This is especially important in large families where the costs of buying a gift for every member of the family can soon add up. Seek agreement that you’ll only spend so much per person.
• If you’re really strapped, a decision to only give gifts to the children can sometimes ease budget constraints.
• One way to spend less on presents is to have each family member bring one present and then to play “Goofy Gift Exchange” or “Secret Santa'”
• Remind everyone that thoughtfully chosen gifts are more important than expensive ones.
3. Hold a “catch-up” Christmas. If your family overdid the spending last Christmas and your budget is still really stretched, consider not spending for one Christmas. One non-spending Christmas will ensure that your budget catches up. There are still a lot of things you can do to celebrate Christmas without spending money:
• Make a nice meal, not an expensive one. Look at old cookbook recipes for thrifty Christmas cooking.
• Make homemade gifts from recycled and inexpensive items.
• Don’t buy any new decorations and either use a live tree in a planter from your garden, or an artificial tree kept in your storage.
4. Take advantage of sales during the year. Sales closer to Christmas can be worth marking on your calendar, such as end-of-summer sales, sales after Thanksgiving, etc.
• Take advantage of the post-Christmas sales to start buying gifts, cards, wrapping paper, decorations, tableware, etc., for next Christmas. Be sure to put these somewhere that they’re easier to find and use when Christmas comes around.
• Keep a list of whose gifts you’ve already purchased, so that you don’t double up on gifts.
• Keep an eye on auction sites and overstocked goods sites for bargains during the lead-up to Christmas. And use price comparison websites to make sure you are paying at the best price.
• Use any rebates, coupons, discounts, or promotions that you have access to. If you’re not sure, ask.
5. Make your own cards. Recycle last year’s cards and turn them into this year’s cards. Simply cut out the decorative part of the card and attach it to plain cardboard. Use markers to decorate. Do the same for gift tags.
• Make your own wrapping paper. Use brown paper and stamp Christmas designs on it using stamps or cut stamp designs out of potatoes. Use simple gold, red, green, silver, and white ribbon to add color if wished.
• Make your own labels. Printable gift labels on the internet or making you own and printing them off can save pounds or dollars on gift tags.
6. Cut out unnecessary items. There are a lot of items that aren’t needed and are unnecessary waste at Christmas time. Save your money and finite resources by not including them in your Christmas celebrations. Examples include:
• Ribbons, bows, fancy tape, stickers, etc., are usually tossed away.
• Plastic tablecloths with Christmas designs. Either use plain colored tablecloths from your linen cupboard, or go without.
• Don’t spend massive amounts of money on outside lights, keep it to a minimum and inside lights should be left off at all times when no-one is in the room, this saves on energy bills.