Wednesday, 28 October 2015

10 Tips for Tackling Christmas on a Shoestring

Christmas on a Budget

I know, I know, it's not even Halloween yet. But. There are only 57 days until Christmas and it's never too early to start preparing... Here are my top ten tips for getting ready for Christmas when your budget is next to nothing.


10. Don't Panic!

It can feel like a bit of a nightmare, with Christmas looming closer and closer, and your bank balance sinking lower and lower. Panic will only make things ten times worse. Tell yourself everything will work out okay. (Alternatively, draw a little doodle of Santa meeting with a violent accident. It will help with the stress levels.)

9. Enter Competitions

You've got to be in it to win it because competitions can really ease the burden of the Christmas shopping. They might not provide you with the 'main' presents, but smaller value items like DVDs, books, toiletries, chocolates, etc, are fairly easy to win and still represent a big saving on all those 'little extras' you end up buying. I comp all year round but in the run up to Christmas there will be thousands upon thousands of prizes up for grabs - click HERE for my guide to getting started.

Me (looking down) as a Christmas angel many moons ago.

8. Nearly New

Don't be afraid to buy second hand. Ebay is full of unwanted gifts, unworn clothes, and unused impulse buys. Lightly used DVDs, computer games, and electronics also abound. Freeads, freecycle, local selling groups (just search Facebook) and even the humble car boot sale can be great ways of sourcing things like bikes and bigger items like doll houses or play kitchens. The savings can be huge and the difference to their brand new counterpart negligible.

7. No Present Agreements

This won't work for everyone, but you might be able to come to no present agreements with some of the people you habitually swap gifts with. My brother and I have a longstanding no present pact, along with another that we pool our resources to buy for our parents. It saves money and halves the stress of finding the perfect present. If you don't want to just straight out ask someone, try bringing it up as a suggestion you read in a magazine and ask your friend / relation / parakeet's opinion of the idea.

Wise owl says it's always a good idea to keep an emergency 'catch all' present (chocolates are always a safe bet) on hand in case someone doesn't stick to the pact.

6. Bargain Hunting

It's so obvious it's painful, but bear with me. There are sales, and offers, and discount stores on the high street which can help you stock up on everything from food, to decorations, to electronics. Then there are the online marketplaces. One of my fave ways to find stocking fillers is to use eBay's advanced search for super cheap items. With a bit of perseverance - and perhaps turning off email notifications for a few days - you can pick up ties, costume jewellery, craft items, nail varnish, and similar items for under 10p a piece, all with free shipping from the Far East. For inspiration, click HERE to see the haul I accumulated a few months back for 22p.

5. Manage Expectations

Let's face it, you're not getting away with a no present pact with the kids. What you can do is try to manage their expectations. Get them to write a 'want, need, wear, read' list, swapping out the categories as appropriate, and so making everything else you're able to get on top is a bonus. When it comes to fellow adults, just be honest and say that things are tight this year.


4. Presentation is Everything

They say we eat with our eyes, and I say we get half the excitement of a present before we ever touch the wrapping paper. By taking a little more time with the presentation you can turn a poundland box of chocs into something your recipient will ooh and ahh over. In this YouTube is your ally; it's full of tutorials for making bows, tying ribbons, and wrapping like a pro. For younger kids, my top presentation tip is to wrap everything. Literally. School socks, a 10p mini pack of sweets, and a huge box full of tissue paper and a balloon are all super exciting when there is wrapping paper to be torn off and strewn all over the carpet.

3. Focus on Food

The temptation at Christmas is to massively overspend on food - even on things nobody particularly likes. (80% of the chocolates in the Christmas tin, I'm looking at you.) Really think about what your family likes and cherry pick accordingly. Try and spread the cost over every weekly shop, and do your best to find some room in the freezer so you can stock up early. Make use of any rewards schemes your supermarket is running, and remember that you really don't need to have twelve different kinds of desert on offer. Anthony's top tip is not to worry about buying cheap booze; after the third drink none of your guests will care anyway...

What do you get the person who has everything? Let me introduce you to the jar of nothing. Attach a label reading something like 'I searched high and low and finally found your dream gift!'

2. Freebies

If you're not having any luck winning your Christmas presents, don't despair. Check out freebies sites like freebiesiteukmagicfreebiesuk and freebiersclub to start building a stash of samples and promotional merchandise. With a bit of imagination these can then be turned into nice little gifts. Samples of tea, coffee and hot chocolate can be combined with a mug, a teaspoon and some fancy tissue paper, ribbon and cellophane. Complete with a printable label imploring the recipient to 'make time for tea' or similar. Free packets of seeds can be teamed with a plant pot as a 'growing pack' for kids, while cosmetics samples and sweets / edibles can be used to form a mini pamper hamper. Remember, it's all about the presentation.

1. Homemade

It all depends how creative you're feeling. You can make your own soap, cookies, cakes and chocolates. (We're doing fudge this year. Yum.) You can up-cycle empty jars into snow globes (or snow globe cookie jars), tubs of baby food into funky caddies, plain tiles into personalised coasters, old sweaters into tote bags, a whole host of things into fridge magnets, etc, etc, etc. Get the kids to help you make your own Christmas cards, as well as your own gift bags and wrapping paper. If that all sounds like too much, there are still some really simple gift ideas you can make yourself. Put together your own gift hampers from all your free and almost free finds, with the help of tissue paper and patterned cellophane. Or create your own super simple reindeer hot chocolate cone.

The possibilities are endless!








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31 comments:

  1. Great tips. I buy a lot of toys for my little boy on ebay as he doesn't mind and it means I can afford a more expensive gift than if I bought new. Thanks for linking to #findtribe

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    1. Thank you. :) It definitely makes a big difference, doesn't it?

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  2. I love this but I have to admit Santa meeting a sticky end was my favorite!

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    1. My other half read it and was like, do I need to be worried about you!? :D

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  3. I really enjoyed reading this and have bookmarked a couple of your links to read later. #sharewithme

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  4. Great post, I love your tips! I have been thinking about Christmas for weeks now, I really can't wait, and you are right it's never too early to start preparing! Thanks for sharing your tips!

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    1. Thank you! It's going to be Marianna's first Christmas this year and I'm already so excited - can't wait to start decorating! :D

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  5. Love the tips - last year I told everyone straight out that they were all getting homemade gifts. Everyone was really happy as they were carefully made around each person. My sister did amazing cookie Christmas trees that had everyone begging for more.

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    1. They sound awesome! I love getting homemade gifts, it's the uniqueness of it. :)

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  6. Top tips here! Last year I made a number of homemade gifts. And rather than buying pre-made hampers I made my own. I think this year I might go homemade again if I can't manage to get everyone to agree to a No Presents Pact!! #TenThings

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    1. Thank you! Homemade is such good fun too (at least when it goes well!) :)

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  7. Some really great tips here. I always love the idea of homemade gifts but never seem to have the time! We scour local facebook groups for second hand toy bargains - perfect for this time of year to stock up on pressies #FindTribe

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    1. Every year I say I'll make some really crafty-type presents... It has yet to happen. But one day, I will be a true Pinterest Mom! ;)

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  8. Brilliant tips I love the festive holiday season and being all organized and having things all ready to celebrate. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. I hope to see you again tomorrow for another great round. #sharewithme

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    1. I was looking at Christmas jumpers in the supermarket earlier and started coming over all festive. It will my daughter's first Christmas this year so I can't wait to do lots of 'kid' things again! :)

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  9. These are great ideas. My brother and I stopped buying Christmas and birthday presents years ago when we realised we were basically swopping £20 with eachother. Comping all year round really helps as well. I have got my mums and grandmas presents from a competition I won months ago. I also bought a couple of Lucas' presents in the January sales before he was born! Thanks for linking up with #ChristmasLinky x
    www.chillingwithlucas.com

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    1. Comping has been such a lifesaver for us this year - pretty much everyone has been catered for via competition wins! Haha, that is very organised. :D Marianna's due date was before Christmas last year, but she ended up hanging on until New Year's Day so we still have the unused stocking, etc, we had ready for last year.

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  10. It's never too early for Christmas! ;) Some great tips, that will come in handy this year as I've just had to replace my car which wasn't really in our financial plans!
    Thanks for linking up to #TenThings
    Stevie x

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    1. There's always something, isn't there? Whenever I think we're getting on top of things something else breaks... :)

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    2. This year I became a comper,it's definitely a way to save money and it's great fun also. I love the handmade gift idea, it's very personal and the receiver would really appreciate the time and effort it took to make it #ChristmasLinky

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  11. I love comping and it's such a help - especially towards the end of the month! Without it I don't think any of our relatives would be getting a present at all. :)

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  12. Totally agree with this especially number 9 - I have won a few of my sons presents this year!

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    1. I won a hamper this week and I was so pleased - my mother-in-law's present sorted!! :)

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  13. Some great ideas, I'm already trying to manage expectations and we don't give gifts to all our family (adults)! #Christmaslinky

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    1. I find the biggest struggle is with my OH's family - I feel more awkward bringing it up with them than I do with mine! :)

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  14. Some great ideas, I'm already trying to manage expectations and we don't give gifts to all our family (adults)! #Christmaslinky

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