It’s only a month ’til Christmas… time to get scared and start panicking about those presents you haven’t bought yet! Or rather, time to think about how to keep Christmas cheap. Of course, you could always be a complete idiot and read the Guardian – as ermine says, if you follow their advice, you certainly won’t be doing anything on the cheap! But please don’t do that…
Here are 5 useful and frugal tips on cutting down the cost of Christmas:
- Don’t buy presents for every man and his dog. If you want to buy presents for people, really think about what they’re into or what they might need right now, and buy something meaningful to them i.e. not what YOU would want. Giving gifts is one of the five main ways of showing love to people – and it’s a wonderful thing (incidentally the other four main ways of showing love are ‘quality time’, ‘acts of service/helpfulness’, ‘physical love’, and ‘loving/encouraging/reassuring words’); but gift giving is not wonderful when it’s self-centred or operates under pride e.g. how much money you spent on someone’s present is irrelevant;
- On that note, set a spending limit for each person’s present. We typically buy presents between £5 and £15. Christmas is not about expensive gifts, it’s about the peace, joy, and abundance we can have through the message and works of Christ. Or for you pagans out there, it’s about celebrating the lengthening days post-Winter solstice – light is growing day-by-day and probably some other nature-y stuff that I don’t really know about;
- Christmas and pretty much every celebration often has a strong element of nice food. There is nothing wrong with this – it should be enjoyable, it’s a holiday! But you’re not going to feel great afterwards if you’ve stuffed yourself silly with chocolate and way too much turkey, in fact you’ll probably just make yourself feel a bit sick. So don’t go crazy! Get food that is good, special, but not in outrageous quantities. Christmas dinner itself doesn’t have to be that expensive – you could buy a large turkey for £30, or you could feed 6 people a 5 course Christmas dinner for under £30 – thank you Delia Smith! Or if you really want to be frugal on the food front, check out our beloved Thrifty Lesley’s Christmas meal plans (2013 plan, 2014 plan) – remember, we cut our grocery bill by more than half using her website;
- If you have kids, please please don’t go crazy buying them tons of presents. They probably have too many toys already anyway. Our son, who was 1 at the last Christmas time, went crazy with excitement over all the toys he got – despite us telling everyone not to buy him anything… I guess we could have spread out the Christmas presents over time, and with hindsight I really wish we’d done that… although we didn’t really know how he would react and if he’d understand anything anyway – clearly it didn’t matter because he still went crazy even at that very young age;
- Spreading out the cost of Christmas over time is also a pretty useful way of preparing and keeping costs under control – but please don’t do what the Guardian article said and stick everything on a credit card, even if it’s a 0% interest one. It’s always better to prepare and plan in advance – decide in advance how much you want to spend on food, gifts, and other entertainments. That way, you’re more likely to stick to a reasonable spending limit, instead of thinking: ‘oh I’ll just buy this as well, it’s 0% interest, so it doesn’t matter’. Do this instead – from January, divide your pre-determined Christmas spending limit into 12, and save that amount every month. You could also do this for birthday gifts which you buy throughout the year, which is what we do.
Do you have any tips for how to keep Christmas cheap? Let me know, leave a comment below!
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