Do you only buy your Xmas gifts in December? Or wait until the last minute and spend too much?
I wrote recently about how to save for Christmas and how to plan for it all year round by having a monthly savings plan for your present buying.
Xmas gifts are of course only half the story when it comes to spending your Christmas money.
Christmas sees you spending much more on food, alcohol (perhaps), activities and Xmas decorations.
Budgeting for these items is essential and having those Christmas savings tucked away will help enormously when you start spending.
But, there is more that you can do to spread the cost of Christmas and indeed help you spend less.
Related post: The Perfectly Simple 12 Week Christmas Savings Plan
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How to buy Xmas gifts when you’re on a tight budget
Buy Xmas gifts in the after Christmas sales
In the UK the sales start on Christmas Day itself. I cannot bring myself to start sales shopping then and indeed am not convinced many of the sale items are a good deal anyway.
But if you know a year in advance (I know that could be a big ask) some of the gifts you want to buy then the sales are the place to get more for your money and reduce your overall spend.
My favourite sale is the Boots 70% off sale. It’s on my calendar every year and I am there waiting for the doors to open at 8am.
I have my list of people to buy for and my Boots loyalty card with extra point deals to maximise my reductions.
Related post: 25 tried & tested money saving tips
Store bonus cards
Many grocery stores operate saving bonus cards. You can top these up throughout the year and on a certain date be rewarded with bonus money based on how much you have saved.
The Asda bonus card gives you an extra £6 if you have saved £144 on that card. If you know you’ll spend that money in the store anyway then the bonus you receive is free money.
I use my Asda bonus card to pay for small Xmas gifts and my Christmas food shopping in December.
Credit card cash back
You can earn cash back with some credit cards and over the year this can build up very nicely. My Asda credit card gives me 1% cash back on my shopping and I can usually earn £80 over the year.
I save this cash back and use it for my shopping in December, making a big dent in the cost.
Save for Christmas every day
I have my separate savings account set up and my Christmas savings are transferred into it every month.
But I also save loose change every day in my piggy bank (actually this year it’s just an old biscuit tin).
Every £1 coin I receive I save. As I pay by card a fair amount this doesn’t add up to thousands over the year so I don’t miss the money I do save. I can usually save £200 this way.
Store loyalty points
We all have various store loyalty cards as they provide us with a few points that gives us money off or can be exchanged for items. Saving up your loyalty points is a painless way of saving a few pounds as it’s not costing you anything at all.
Exchange your loyalty points in December for either Xmas gifts or a reduction in your spending.
Book popular activities now
Many families have traditional outings over the Christmas period. The pantomime is a favourite here in the UK. But if you wait until December to book your pantomime tickets you’ll pay more than you need to.
Tickets go on sale 6 months or more in advance and the cheaper tickets tend to sell out by October. Book them early and save yourself some money.
Super cheap cards and wrapping paper
Stores are keen to get rid of everything Christmas related very quickly once the day itself has gone. Paying full price for Christmas cards seems pointless to me when I know I can always buy them at least half price if not even more.
Buy your cards and wrapping paper in January and pop them in the loft until your need them.
Added bonus – buy nice wrap without Christmas motif’s and you have got yourself some cheap wrapping paper for birthdays and other occasions. Plain gold and silver paper is perfect for other celebrations.
Not everyone’s cup of tea but if you receive Xmas gifts from more distant relatives there can be a tendency for these to not be to your taste.
If having the ‘no presents’ conversation is not appropriate and you are receiving gifts you won’t use, why not re-gift them to someone who will gain enjoyment from them?
Alternatively these gifts can save you money by forming a contribution to school fete prizes and the like. If I can’t re-gift or give away as a prize then I re-purpose these gifts as contributions to my local charity/thrift shop.
Throughout the year stores often have great deals on certain items but only for a short while. These deals never seem to coincide with your time line for Christmas buying i.e. November onward.
Make the most of these deals by buying in advance. Mr2p loves a bottle of JD for Christmas and his birthday. If I waited until December to buy it I would have to pay full price.
I NEVER pay full price for JD as it goes on sale enough times during the year. I know it will be at its lowest price in October so always look out for it then and buy it when it hits that price.
Related post: 13 killer ways to save money on groceries
Mother Nature’s best Xmas gifts
Use foliage and greenery from the garden to decorate the house. Small branches of ivy and holly will give your living room a lovely Christmas feel for free.
Add in some pine cones for extra pizzazz.
Grow your own vegetables for Christmas. We grow Charlotte potatoes every year, sown in September they are ready here in the UK for December. Perfect for a lighter potato option. We also attempt purple sprouting broccoli every year but with mixed success.
Home grown carrots, brussel sprouts, swede/turnip all keep well into December and beyond and are perfect for serving up for your special Christmas Day meal.
We also have raspberry canes now and frozen raspberries made into an Eton mess pudding is a great alternative to Christmas pudding which I know many people find too heavy after a big meal.
Related post: 50 frugal habits that are also eco friendly
Many stores have clearance sales in the summer to make way for their new Christmas stock. You can get toys and clothes and other gifts for half price or less.
If buying Xmas gifts in January is too early for you then make the most of the summer sales. You’ve got to start thinking Christmas at some point!
Keep your eyes peeled
I can find super savings on small random items that are perfect stocking fillers. DD2 always has toiletries in her stocking so when I find her favourite shower gel for just 33p I snap up a bottle, even if it is April!
All these tips will not only help you spread the cost of saving for Christmas but also save you money. To go one step further, why not get your thinking cap on and come up with some ideas for Christmas gifts that you can make for free? Here’s 5 fabulously free gifts to get your started.