It’s a magical time of year, but for many of us, Christmas is about watching our money magically disappear. Here’s how to save money in the last weeks leading up to Christmas.
We all know what we SHOULD be doing to save money at Christmas - stock up on presents during the year, set a budget, book travel early, post gifts at least a month in advance and write list after list… This is all is sensible advice in hindsight, but for those of us who always leave everything to last minute, the lead up to Christmas is a panic-buying frenzy.
If that sounds like you, here are the tips on how to do Christmas at the last minute without blowing your budget.
1. Make Your Own Gifts
For many of us, time is more precious than money. Put your hobby to good use and use it as Christmas currency - people are always genuinely touched when you put your time and effort into making something nice.
If you’re creatively inclined, there are countless gifts you can make for little money and effort. If you’re a baker, a batch of homemade muesli, or a tin of delicious cookies will never go unappreciated. Need some ideas? Check out our top DIY gifts here.
2. Give the gift of time
A present doesn’t have to mean a physical gift. You could offer a ‘voucher’ for baby sitting, a photo shoot (if you’re handy with a camera) an oil change, or a night out at the bowling alley together, or invite your friends over for a delicious home made dinner.
3. Embrace the digital age
Sometimes, just a thoughtful card is enough. Why not create a family video and send to extended family or save a bunch on postage by creating your card on one of the many free websites.
4. You don’t need to spend a fortune on the kids…
The debate continues to rage about how many presents kids should have on Christmas day, but you don’t need to spend hundreds to give your kids a Christmas they’ll remember. Most children will always appreciate a gift that helps them create memories – it could be a fun outdoor game such a slip and slide, a cricket set, a new kite or a telescope. For friend’s children, nieces and nephews, try gifts that could start a new hobby or encourages them to be creative such as colouring in books, or DIY kits. Remember, your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews will love you no matter what is under the tree.
5. Go second-hand
If you want to go big ticket, consider going second hand - according to research on Gumtree, sixty percent of Aussies would buy pre loved as a gift and 49 percent would welcome it. Think bikes, gaming consoles, sporting equipment and collectibles.
6. Wrapping on a budget
Even the cheapest Christmas present can be given a boost with beautiful wrapping, but you don’t need to go crazy on cheap Christmas paper. Instead, buy a roll of inexpensive brown paper that can be used through the year and top off with red and green string. Check out these ideas on how to wrap gifts with wow factor without dipping into your budget.
7. Create new traditions
If you have a large family, buying for everyone can be an expensive affair. So consider starting some new Christmas traditions – Secret Santa or Evil Santa is a great way to have fun with the gift-giving spirit. Some families agree to just buy for one person, just for the children, or even have Christmas a few days later and shop in the sales. You could introduce a budget for each person or, consider not giving at all! Take the obligation out of Christmas and talk to all your relatives and colleagues to make clear you don’t expect anything this Christmas.
Keep decorations simple – stick with a small tree, simple or homemade trimmings, and try to buy disposable items such as tinsel second hand at op shops. Lights are ok, but resist the urge to blow out the neighbours and go for newer, energy efficient bulbs to keep energy costs down. And be sure to turn them off during the day!
9. Buy local
Often the best weapon against overspending is giving yourself plenty of time to shop around. But if that’s not possible, then you may as well support your community. Scour local independent stores and even op shops for special gifts.
10. Visit your local market or Christmas fair
There’s no better place to shop for one-of-a-kind and quirky than your local markets. Whether your buying a one off item from a local artisan or a piece of vintage or second-hand, markets can be a great place to pick up a bargain. And don’t limit yourself – a big basket of fruit or fresh veges from your local farmers markets can be a lovely gift.
11. Organize a Potluck Meal
A Christmas lunch, dinner or soirée can quickly blow your budget once you factor in drinks, decorations and dinner. So why not suggest a potluck meal where everyone is encouraged to bring a dish? It could be some wine, cheese, dessert or their favourite specialty dish. It will help spread the cost and many people are more than happy to contribute at this time of year.
12. Buy in bulk
Now is the perfect time to bulk buy your wine or beer in bulk – most places offer discounts if you buy two or more bottles so if you buy a dozen, then you’ll always have a quick and easy gift or events.
13. Only buy the amount you need
Most of us overspend on food over Christmas, and while leftovers can always come in handy, we are all guilty of throwing away vast amounts of food too. Make a list of everyone who’s eating, and plan accordingly. If you don't want to waste food – or the money you've spent buying it – look at lovefoodhatewaste.com, which has a portion calculator.
14. Savvy Supermarket tricks
Buy ingredients in season, they’ll always be cheaper. Start stocking up on non-perishables or those that can be frozen. Many major supermarkets are now offering “ugly” fruit and vegetables. These misshapen specimens are cheaper and make no difference to the end taste.
Use the discount supermarkets for things like extras, drinks, snacks and veges. You’ll usually find a good range of budget friendly Christmas treats such as festive biscuits, mince pies and pudding, wine champagne and fizz.
What’s your favourite way to spend money at Christmas? We’d love to hear about it! Let us know by commenting below or joining the conversation on Facebook.