IT MIGHT be the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas can also be the most expensive.
So if you’re dreaming of a tight Christmas, here are our 12 Saves of Christmas to spend less but still celebrate in style.
1. SECOND CLASS NOT SECOND BEST: Posting your Christmas cards by second class posts costs 68p compared to 95p for First Class — a saving of 27p for each one. But remember to post them by December 12 to guarantee Christmas delivery.
2. SEE THE LIGHTS: Energy-efficient LED Christmas lights use up to 90 per cent less power than standard ones.
Or raid your drawers to find old batteries for battery-powered lights, so they won’t add any costs to your power bill.
Remember to set your lights on a timer to cut costs further, and switch them off overnight.
3. SHOP “SUPER SATURDAY”: Super Saturday is the last full shopping Saturday before Christmas with festive shoppers splashing our £1.6billion last year.
This year it falls on December 17. Expect discounts of up to 75 per cent on selected products as stores tempt consumers to spend.
4. OR HOLD YOUR NERVE TO XMAS EVE: This year Xmas Eve is on a Saturday. If you can wait until the very last minute to grab your gifts, you can expect mega-deals on festive gift sets, perfumes and beauty products.
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Retailers will typically close from 4pm onwards on December 24 so don’t miss out. Check the store times.
5. DO THE “SANTA SWEEP”: You’re used to shopping for yellow labels, but take it one step further with a “Santa Sweep”.
Most supermarkets will close around 6pm on Christmas Eve and need to shift their stock of fresh festive food before then.
Discounts will begin from around 2pm and could be huge — up to 90 per cent.
There’s no guarantee you’ll pick up all you need for Christmas dinner but snap up turkey, other meats and puddings to freeze for January and beyond.
6. CASH IN YOUR LOYALTY POINTS: If you use loyalty schemes such as Lidl Plus and Nectar, check your balance and spend the points on your Christmas shop to lighten the financial load.
Some stores offer double points schemes or offer extra discounts on certain products.
7. BE A CARD: Hunt down old gift cards hidden in the backs of drawers or emailed to you as gifts, and use these to buy new festive presents.
8. BUY PRACTICAL GIFTS: What do you really need, rather than want?
Buying — and receiving — gifts you’ll actually use is the best use of everyone’s money. Have honest conversations with all the people you’ll exchange presents with.
9. DECK THE HALLS FOR LESS: If you haven’t done so already, get your Xmas decs out now. Throw away any beyond repair, and mend or upcycle those which just need a little TLC.
To avoid buying more, be creative on how you place them, pad out gaps with greenery such as conifer branches, holly or even spray-painted twigs.
For a personalised feel, get the kids involved with their own designs and colour schemes.
If you really need to buy new, then Wilko is offering three-for two on selected baubles while The Range has up to 25 per cent off on some styles.
10. BUY REUSABLE: Each year we throw away a staggering 227,000 miles of wrapping paper, and the cost of disposing of festive plastic, card and foil is thought to be £168million annually.
This year, buy reusable gift bags and tags which you can use again next year — and the one after that. Bags cost from just 90p in supermarkets and card shops.
11. FREE FESTIVITIES: Don’t spend money on expensive Winter Wonderland shows.
Check out sites like Nextdoor and your local Facebook groups for free festive activities including Christmas fairs, candlelight walks and carol services.
12. DO THE DECEMBER DECLUTTER: Haven’t used something for a year? Then decide if you still need it. If not, sell it and put the cash into the Christmas expenses pot.
COOK A TURKEY DINNER FOR LESS
1. CHECK WHAT YOU HAVE: Christmas dinner is just a posh roast, so before you shop, check out what you already have. Frozen veg? Potatoes? Scour your cupboards and freezer so you don’t double up and buy more than you need.
2. SHOP SENSIBLY: There’s no need to overindulge in your eating or spending. Instead of buying huge amounts of festive food which won’t all get eaten, plan your meals and snacks day by day. List only what you need and stick to it when you hit the shops.
3. TALK TURKEY: Whole fresh birds cost from £20 to £40, so save with a frozen one, which can be up to 25 per cent cheaper. Want to spend even less? Opt for a turkey crown or joint, which average around £14.
4. ADD EXTRA VEG: Not only is it healthier, but adding extra veg to your meal will fill up guests and cut costs. Festive veg including carrots, parsnips and sprouts sell for as low as 19p per pack the week before Christmas.
5. AMAZING AIR FRYERS: They’re the energy-saving hit of the year, but did you know they can save cash on your Christmas dinner too? Air fryers can cook crispy roast potatoes in around 30 minutes. They’re fantastic for sweet treats such as festive shortbread too.
6. MAKE A CAKE: Although it’s tempting to have a showpiece pudding, Xmas desserts don’t come cheap. Why spend up to £20 when you can bake your own cake for just a couple of quid and decorate with holly sprigs and icing sugar? Get the kids to personalise it to make it extra special. Lidl’s Belbake range offers an easy-to-make cake mix for just 79p.
7. WASTE NOT: Save your leftovers to make more delicious meals. It doesn’t have to be turkey sandwiches for a week. See lovefoodhatewaste.com for mouth-watering foodie inspiration.