How To Buy Christmas Gifts On a Tight Budget

I wrote recently about how to save for Christmas and how to plan for it all year round by having a monthly savings plan to buy every Christmas gift you need without getting into debt.

Budget Christmas gifts are of course only half the story when it comes to learning how to afford christmas on a tight budget and then spending your hard saved Christmas money.

Christmas sees you spending a pretty penny at the grocery store, on alcohol (perhaps), activities and decorations.

Budgeting for these items is essential and having those Christmas savings tucked away will help enormously when you start identifying and buying the best gift ideas for the whole family.

But, there is more that you can do to spread the cost of Christmas and indeed help you spend less.

Related posts:

How to have an amazing Christmas on a budget

The Perfectly Simple 12 Week Christmas Savings Plan

How To Buy christmas Gifts On A Budget

Buy cheap christmas Gifts In The Christmas Sales

In many countries the new year 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 holiday season sales are the perfect way to get more for your money and reduce your overall budget.

My favorite 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 ideas for friends and family to buy small gifts for and my Boots loyalty card with extra point deals to get these gifts on a budget amount of money.

Related posts:

How To Do Christmas Cheap: Without Feeling Like Scrooge

Unique Christmas Gifts For Hard To Buy For Family & Friends

What To Do When You Just Can’t Afford Christmas

use Store Bonus Cards to save money

Many grocery stores (and others) 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.

In the UK the Asda Walmart 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 Walmart bonus card to pay for small inexpensive Christmas presents and my Christmas food shopping in December.

Related post: How To Start Saving Money: 7 Tricks You Can Easily Do

young girl in santa outfit standing on tip toes dressing the Christmas tree with presents around her

bag Credit Card Cash Back

You can earn cash back with some credit cards and over the year this can build up very nicely. My 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 to buy a Christmas gift or two in December, making a big dent in the cost.

budgeting For Christmas by saving 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 used to be able to save £200 this way.

Unfortunately, since we now live in post-pandemic times, the fun I had saving my coins has almost disappeared. I spend very little cash so have less chance to build up hundreds in savings.

However last year I did still have enough money to spend on one gift for a family member. So still worth doing.

Related posts:

10 of the Best 52 Week Money Challenges For You

Sinking Funds For Beginners: What You Need To Know

Storecard 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 a Christmas gift (or three!), or a reduction in your spending around that shop.

Book Popular Christmas Activities In Advance

Many families have their favorite Christmas traditions for Christmas morning and outings over the whole festive period. The pantomime is a favorite here in the UK.

In fact gifting tickets for the pantomine is a magical way to get kids into the Christmas spirit and a great gift for the whole family.

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. And let’s be honest the tickets aren’t cheap to start with. Book them early and save yourself some money.

Related post: 10 Christmas Activities on a Budget to Keep the Kids Entertained

Super Cheap Card sets 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.

I’m a big fan of always purchasing your cards and wrapping paper in January and then pop them in the loft or a cupboard until your need them.

Added bonus – buy nice wrap without Christmas motif’s and you have got yourself wrapping paper for birthdays and other occasions at a very low cost.

Related post: Save Money When You Always Buy These 9 Things After Christmas

pile of gold and silver wrapped christmas presents

the perfect gift re-gifting choices

Not everyone’s cup of tea but if you receive a Christmas gift from more distant relatives there can be a tendency for these to not be the best gifts for you.

They’ve tried to find the perfect gift for you but the reality is, it’s a gift you’re never going to use.

If having the ‘no gift giving’ conversation is not appropriate and you receive a Christmas gift you won’t use, why not re-gift it to someone who will gain enjoyment from them?

Re-gifting comes with strings attached. You need to make sure you don’t gift it to the wrong person, like the person who gave it to you in the first place!

The easiest way to ensure you do not forget who gave you the gift is to make a note as soon as you receive it.

Alternatively these gifts can be the perfect way to save you money by forming a contribution to school fete prizes and the like. Ideally you want a gift that is still cool or cute, just not your personal taste.

If I can’t re-gift to a friend or give it away as a prize then I will give the gift as a contribution to my local charity/thrift shop.

how to buy christmas presents on a budget – buying christmas gifts throughout the year

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.

My husbands favorite drink is a bottle of JD which he gets for Christmas and his birthday every year. Makes my life easy because I don’t need to be thinking up different gift ideas every year!

If I waited until December to buy it I would have to pay the full cost. 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: 9 Things I Refuse To Buy This Christmas

red Christmas baubles and berries on white background

Use Mother Nature for an inexpensive Christmas

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 an inexpensive 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 and they taste great lightly boiled with seasoning and butter.

We also attempt purple sprouting broccoli every year but with mixed success.

Home grown carrots, brussel sprouts, swede/rutabaga 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

pile of blued wrapped christmas presents

use the Summer Deals for gift ideas

Many stores have clearance sales in the summer to make way for their new Christmas stock. You can get some of the best cheap Christmas gifts like toys and clothes and other gifts for half price or less.

If getting creative and thinking about gift ideas in January is too early for you then make the most of the summer sales.

You’ve got to start thinking about Christmas gift ideas at some point and if you want a low cost, inexpensive Christmas, then the sooner you create a list of gift ideas and start buying them, the better.

Make Your Own inexpensive christmas gifts

Something homemade gives the personal touch and can make an excellent gift for anyone in the family, kids included.

Not all of us are crafty so making your own inexpensive Christmas presents to gift to friends and family can be very daunting.

But nowadays there are so many people who share their love of crafting and handmade gifts that provide easy to follow tutorials. Homemade gift ideas you could make include:

  • Hot chocolate recipe in a jar
  • Coffee lover hamper
  • Self care pamper pack
  • Tea and cookies set

I’m not a creative person who can come up with cool or cute ideas on my own so I use Pinterest to find gift ideas I can make at home.

These posts will inspire you to make your own:

Fun And Tasty Christmas Food Gifts In A Jar

24 Easy Recycled Gift Ideas Your Family Will Love

11 Simple And Beautiful Homemade Food Gifts For Christmas

10 Best Homemade Gifts For Christmas – No Cooking Required!

red christmas star with cherries and berries on sage background

Your questions about how to buy christmas gifts on a budget

How much money should I spend on Christmas gifts?

The amount of money you should spend when you are buying Christmas gifts on a budget is what you can actually afford and have budgeted for.

Christmas happens every year so you don’t want to have debt in January to try and pay off just as you want to get started on saving for next Christmas. Cheap Christmas presents can still be gorgeous and fun.

How much should I budget for gifts?

You can either set an overall budget for gifts or work out how much you want to spend per person then total it up to see how much your budget should be. If the total is too high, cut it down and do the maths again.

There are many Christmas gift ideas on a tight budget on Pinterest that can help you stick to your budget.

How do you buy gifts on a budget?

You’ve got to be creative, you need to get started early and think about alternative gifts that are budget friendly but still lovely to give and receive. When you are trying to work out how to do Christmas shopping on a budget, it’s all about planning ahead. Don’t wait until December!

How much should I spend on Christmas presents for kids?

Adults you might choose to not buy anything for but kids are different aren’t they? That doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on them. Especially kids under 5, they get so much from everyone else that really, $20/£20 could be enough.

What is the 4 gift rule?

The 4 gift rule is a great way to limit the number of presents you buy your own children. The rule is this:

  • Something they want
  • Something they need
  • Something to wear, and
  • Something to read

It makes thinking about budget Christmas gift ideas for kids that bit easier because you’re not starting with a blank piece of paper. It also helps to curtail kids wild gift lists!

Keep Your Eyes Peeled for the ideal christmas gift

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 favorite shower gel for just 33p I snap up a bottle, even if it is April! Small food items are also perfect as budget Christmas gifts to pop into their stockings. I get told off if chocolate does not appear as a Christmas gift somewhere!

All these tips will not only help you with buying Christmas gifts on a budget but also save you money and help you have a more inexpensive Christmas. Leaving you free to enjoy January without a debt hangover.

To go one step further, why not get your thinking cap on and come up with some Christmas gift ideas that you can make for free?

Here’s 5 fabulously free gifts to get your started.

Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!

PINterest image for buying Xmas gifts on a budget
PINterest image for buying Xmas gifts on a budget
Save for Christmas by spreading the cost throughout the year. Make your Christmas money go further with these money saving and budgeting tips Christmas shopping for gifts can be stressful so manage your money and budget for Christmas. #christmassavings #christmasshopping #xmasgifts #christmasmoney #savemoney #budgeting #christmasbudget

Last Updated on 28th November 2021 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

12 thoughts on “How To Buy Christmas Gifts On a Tight Budget”

  1. I do love a bit of regifting! My granny was almost a pro at it, except when she gave what we got her back to us on our birthdays… But chocolate always goes down well!

    I love homemade Christmas gifts, I’m very lucky because my wife knits and she works hard getting everyone a knitted gift at Christmas while my tablet has become a sweet tooth staple every year. Takes time but saves a lot of money and people seem to like it!
    Good tip on JD I wonder what other spirits are cheap at that time of year?

    • Hi Flint, thanks for stopping by! I’m happy to re-gift where I can but always make sure I remember who bought it! I wish I could knit but have made chilli chocolate in the past and my skittles vodka was well received by the teens this year! Baileys is usually on offer around similar time as are many of the big brands. Never buy spirits at full price in December, there’s always a deal to be had!

        • I think that is good although not sure about the blistering bit! I made the same with chillis from our allotment and additional flakes and it was hot but not overly so. We don’t grow hectic chillis though!

  2. Thanks for Sharing some great tips. I always was a last minute shopper but last year I started early and it was a great feeling not to be rushing around. Most of the gifts I got for people were at discounted prices and nobody was no the wiser.

    • So much better not to have to rush around isn’t it? I’m not a fan of shopping from mid-November onward unless it’s at 9am so the more I’ve already bought pre-November the better. Well done on getting those discounted gifts – such a great feeling – more bank for your buck 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Grow your own vegetables << wow…you are my nutritious eating hero… i would love to get some vegetables for christmas…any day really… do you still buy your adult children christmas presents?? [full judgement.] 🙂

    • Hey, I still get Christmas presents from my parents! We do presents for all immediate family without fail hence the need to budget. And there’s nothing more tasty than your own veg for a special family meal. One day maybe you’ll love a vegetable or two 🙂

  4. Excellent tips. I love buying Christmas gifts well in advance – some years I am done buying before summer has come to an end, but we always have it done by October. Using store points or even credit card points can really help you save. We did that this year and it meant our Christmas spending was drastically reduced.

    • I’m so impressed you have Christmas done by summer’s end Sarah, that is amazing. When you plan it out and use those points it really does make such a difference to your spending doesn’t it? This year I have broken every rule in my frugal book and I am staring down the road at Christmas and I am not even half way through – eek! I shall be focusing on homemade gifts to try and remedy this situation fast!


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