Six steps to a stingy Christmas
If you're trying to cut the cost of Christmas, here's how to be ultra stingy.
Last night, as I was watching the latest version of ‘A Christmas Carol’, I started to wonder what it would be like to have an ultra stingy Christmas. After all, the festive season is an expensive time of year, and for many of us, spending lots of money on Christmas presents, decorations and food just isn’t feasible.
Indeed, according to research from uSwitch, a quarter of Brits are considering replacing presents for their loved ones with IOUs, either putting off presents entirely or at least delaying buying them until the January sales.
So if you’re hoping to save money this Christmas, or you’ve simply had enough of Christmas already, here are six ways to be stingy this festive season.
It’s time to search for your inner creativity and start making your Christmas presents, decorations and cards. Of course, there’s not much time left in which to do this so you’ll need to get a wriggle on.
And if you’re looking for card inspiration, retailers such as Yellow Moon are packed full of ideas. Yellow Moon even has this fabulous card making kit containing cards, Santa cut-outs, ribbons and messages. Of course, you might not want to go to all of that trouble, so you could simply get a piece of card and draw a picture on the front instead - or even just write Happy Christmas.
As for wrapping paper, if you haven't saved any from last year, you could always consider using your old newspapers to really keep the costs down!
2. Sneaky tactics
If you’ve got a large family, Secret Santa can work out to be a great way to save money. Secret Santa involves everyone pulling a name out of a hat so that each person only has to buy one gift. You can set a spending limit on the amount, so if you say £10, each person only has to spend £10.
For some fantastic Secret Santa ideas, read The top 22 Secret Santa gifts.
Alternatively, only give presents to the people you truly like. If you usually buy something for your Great Aunt Maud, but secretly can’t stand her, don’t bother buying her anything this year.
Or you could take this opportunity to have a clear out at home and if there’s anything you no longer want or need, why not pass it on to someone as a Christmas present? Alternatively, you could return an unwanted present from last year and make out that you found it so useful, you thought the person who gave it to you should have one too.
3. Be picky
With Christmas fast approaching, you’re probably being inundated with invitations to parties, dinners and drinks. This, of course, can soon add up. So you need to be really picky about which events you’re happy to attend. Set yourself a budget for nights out so you’ll easily know what’s realistic and what’s not. You can use our Money Track tool to do this.
Don’t be afraid to say no to invitations. There’s no point spending all of your money before Christmas has even arrived. So if having a meal out with your neighbours has become a little stale, break the tradition this year and tell them you can’t make it!
4. Cut your food costs
As we’ve revealed in several taste tests, including our latest one for mince pies, spending less doesn’t automatically mean poorer quality. Deep discounters such as Lidl, Aldi and Netto are packed full of fabulous bargains, and are well worth checking out for your Christmas lunch.
For example, at my local Lidl, 12 deep-filled mince pies cost £1.99 and a deluxe Christmas pudding will set you back £1.99.
Meanwhile, at Aldi, you can get a four bird roast for £9.99, 600g of honey-glazed parsnips for £1.49, bacon-wrapped cocktail sausages for £1.99 and party wines for just £2.99 a bottle.
You could also take a look at websites such as Approved Food and Food Bargains which sell short dates and out-of-date food at great prices! You’re unlikely to be able to buy your complete Christmas lunch here, but all it takes is a little imagination.
If you’re really looking to cut the cost of your Christmas lunch, you could opt for a turkey breast roast such as this one from Tesco for £2.50. Alternatively, you could forgo the turkey completely this year and plump for a cheaper option such as chicken. Or you could simply go veggie, and rustle up a tasty nut roast.
You should also trim down on the trimmings. Forget the pigs in blankets, make your own stuffing and pick up some simple, cheap veg.
And for dessert, rather than plumping for an expensive Christmas pudding, why not make some mince pies?
Finally, don’t forget to ditch the big brands. Opt for supermarket-own brands instead as these will be cheaper and usually taste just as good.
5. Shop online
Whatever you’re buying (if you're buying anything at all that is), a really great way to save money is by doing your shopping online.
If you are doing some of your food shopping at one of the major supermarkets (ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose or Ocado), make sure you use mysupermarket.co.uk.
This clever website compares prices at all of these supermarkets, allowing you to select your basket of goods from the cheapest one. It will also tell you when you can ‘swap and save’ by substituting one bag of carrots for another, for example – perhaps because one is on special offer.
6. Go without
Finally, for the ultimate stingy Christmas, you could just go without! Forget the presents, the cards and the decorations, and forget the big Christmas lunch. If you want to inject a little festivity into the day, you could always opt for a nice turkey and cranberry sandwich!
This is a lovemoney.com classic article, updated for 2011.