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How to have a cheaper Christmas

You don't have to break the bank to celebrate Christmas. Follow our top tips for some great ways to save money.

Saving and Making Money

Draw up a budget

List all the things you're going to need to pay for, such as food, drink, presents, decorations, etc. Make sure you don't miss anything out.

Then you need to work out how much you can afford to pay for it all. If you go over budget in one area, don't worry, keep reading this guide and we'll show you how to cut back some of your costs.

Once you've finalised your budget, make sure you stick to it!

You can keep on top of your budgets with lovemoney.com's MoneyTrack tool.

Save money on your presents and decorations

There are loads of ways you can save money on presents and decorations.

Make your own
Why not save some serious money and make your own presents? You could make anything from  cakes and biscuits or some chutney to a piece of knitwear to a DVD or photo collage of your family and friends. A personal gift that you've spent some time making will be usually be better received than a shop-bought pair of socks or a box of smellies.

You can also make your own decorations. 

There are some great ideas for gifts and decorations on the Disney Family Fun website and there are even more ideas on the Channel 4 website.

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!

Make sure you shop around for whatever you need to make your presents and decorations to keep your costs down.

Send free e-cards
There are plenty of e-cards available that can be sent to your whole email address book in seconds, and some are even free. And many have unlimited space for your message, so you could even squeeze in your annual Christmas letter to boot.

Check out 123 greetings, blue mountain, e-cards and Ilovecards for free Christmas e-cards – and for free charity cards take a look at Macmillan and SOS Children's villages.

See if you can get your presents free or second hand
You don't need to pay full price for presents – in fact you might need to pay anything at all. Take a look at the likes of Freegle, Freecycle and SnaffleUp, where you can pick up a huge variety of items other people want to give away.

If you can't find what you want for free, see if you can pick it up second hand. Try local charity shops or other second-hand stores. Online, there's the likes of eBay and Amazon Marketplace.

Use price comparison engines
When shopping for Christmas presents, find the item that you want at the cheapest price using price comparison websites like Kelkoo or PriceRunner. Or try Flubit, which goes off and tries to beat the best offer you've had for a product.

Use voucher codes
Before you spend any cash, see if there are any voucher codes you could use to knock down the cost of your purchase. One of the best places to look is the bargains website HotUKDeals, but there are loads of others to check out including VoucherCodes.co.uk, MyVoucherCodes, and VoucherCodesPro

Earn cashback
You can also save pounds by shopping via cashback websites like Quidco or TopCashback, which pay you for shopping at certain retailers. You probably won't see your cashback for a couple of months, but it could help with your New Year bills.

Save money on your food and drink

Food and drink can cost a fortune, so this is where you really need to shop around to get the most for your money.

Stock up at the deep discounters
The likes of Aldi, Lidl, the 99p Store and Poundland all have brand name products (both food and drink) at low prices so stock up a couple of weeks before Christmas. Just make sure you stick to your shopping list.

Compare prices at the big supermarkets
Use MySupermarket to find out where you can get the cheapest festive ingredients. The site compares the price of groceries at ASDA, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Ocado. And let us help you every week with our Frugal Food round-up of the top supermarket bargains.

Use your loyalty points
If you have Nectar or Clubcard points, you could put them towards the cost of your Christmas food and drink. Just bear in mind that they are actually worth more if you use them for other rewards.

Make it, don't buy it
It's actually much more expensive to buy things like mince pies, pigs in blankets and stuffing ready-made than it is to make them yourselves. Your own versions will probably taste better too. Our sister site lovefood has loads of great Christmas recipes.

Ask your guests to bring something to the party
If you're having family and/or friends round for Christmas dinner, why not them ask them to bring a starter or a pudding or some booze? After all, you should give as well as receive.

Use your leftovers
Make sure you use your leftovers, either straight away or by freezing them for later. Our sister site lovefood has loads of great recipes for leftovers.

Postpone Christmas

This is a fairly radical option admittedly but if you can wait even just a few days you'll find that you can pick up Christmas dinner cheap in the supermarkets and take advantage of the sales for your presents.

Plan ahead for next year early

It's never too early to start saving money on next Christmas. Christmas cards, wrapping paper and decorations are all in the bargain bins come January, so stock up and save a fortune.

Another good tip is to buy your gifts throughout the year, particularly if you spot something that's particularly cheap.

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