A MUM-OF-TWO has revealed her savvy ways on how to make Christmas a success while on a tight budget – with savings up to £500.
Stacey Victoria is a self-proclaimed “savvy saver” who shares her top tips, including handmade gifts, charity shop finds and reduced price roast dinner staples.
The Huddersfield mum told NeedToKnow.Online: “We have had to cut back hugely as a family to be able to still try and keep the life we have and enjoy it.
“It’s been extremely worrying and I would love to be positive and say it will become easier – but unfortunately, I think it will become harder this time round.
“I think we need to do all we can to put things in place to try and ease the pressure off ourselves.
“I really do feel that having handmade gifts will be treasured for a lot longer, than the person receiving a materialistic gift.
“I like to give these sentimental gifts to my close family, because I can make them personal and from the heart.”
In a bid to spread the “true” meaning of the festive season, she ensures to include at least one handmade gift for each person – and claims she’s set to save over £500 this year.
Stacey’s top tips including finding bargains at charity shops, which not only keep more money in your pocket, but go towards a good cause.
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Car boot sales also offer plenty of opportunities to spot a thoughtful yet affordable gift this Christmas.
The stay-at-home-mum has managed to buy her kids a bike, cosy bean bag chair and Peppa Pig table all for a total of £15.
This year she bagged herself an electric piano, stool and stand for her eldest child and the bill was only £20.
Stacey is a strong believer of “someone else’s rubbish, is somebody else’s fortune” and uses her weekends for finding top bargains.
“In the past, I’ve always made sure to search high and low in the charity shops as well – but this year, I’ve used them more than ever,” she added.
“You’re not just buying and gifting second hand items, but you’re also donating to the charities who are undoubtedly struggling as well,” she continued.
“For new gifts on a budget, I’ve used local businesses and there’s been some great finds, such as DIY at-home spa sets for only a fraction of the cost in high street stores.”
The creative bargain hunter also opts for handmade cards and tree ornaments among other DIY hacks.
In a bid to “reuse and recycle” she’s spray painted her pumpkins from Halloween and fashioned her own scented diffuser using anti-bacterial spray.
Stacey said: “It’s not something I’ve done before, but I will definitely be doing this again next year.
“I spray paint them red, green and gold, before placing them around the house or outside as decorations.
“But don’t forget after Christmas to wash them and feed the remains to wildlife – or keep the seeds to plant ready for free pumpkins next Halloween.”
She shares plenty of money saving hacks on her Instagram, @eating_fresh_on_a_budget, such as using her children’s drawings as decorations, simply by punching a hole and tying them up with a festive ribbon.
“In the past, I’ve also made my own gift tags from printed out pictures of my girls and I also cut off old wrapping paper for different tags,” Stacey added.
“I’m sticking to brown paper and brown string this year, as it’s so simple, yet effective and cheap,” she continued.
To keep the house filled with an inviting aroma this festive period – on a budget – the inventive crafter suggested using a bottle of Zoflora and a pan full of water.
Heat the pan on low for a few hours and your home will smell amazing, according to Stacey.
The most important part of celebrations some may argue is the Christmas dinner.
As she likes to keep costs low across the board, Stacey doesn’t believe in splashing out on fancy food items for the family.
Instead, she snaps up reduced deals months in advance, as well as saving her loyalty card points for a huge discount.
She said: “To keep shopping costs low, I use any loyalty bonuses available and different card schemes.
“One of my loyalty cards has paid for most of my daughters’ birthday presents due to all the points gathered across the year.
“Since September, I have been buying some food items each week and then freezing them ready for Christmas.
“Pigs in blankets and tins of vegetables are some of the items I’ve snapped up for only a few pennies.
“I know some people might not like the idea of tinned vegetables, but they’re just as good as fresh and can be used along with any leftovers to stretch meals further over the festive period.
“Personally, my favourite are the tinned potatoes with some oil and salt, cooked in the air fryer – delicious!
“It’s also quicker and easier to prepare, so this helps me spend more time with my kids and I also save on my gas bills because they don’t take as long to cook.”
Before, she spent a “fortune” on Christmas and claims she used to splash over £400 on presents alone for each child.
Stacey said: “A gift is a gift no matter the cost.
“Materialistic items are too easy for people to find fault with or judge – and it’s sad to say, but there will be those who compare gifts and try to guess the price.
“But spending quality time with friends and family is the best gift of all and costs nothing.”
She added: “Emily and Isabelle are grateful for everything in their life and they even write thank you letters to Santa, where they tell him to rest and have a cup of tea.
“I know they love Christmas very much and I do try to relive my childhood through them.
“I think the financial crisis has taught me a lot and despite not spending hundreds of pounds, I know the gifts I give will mean more, because I’ve put my heart into them.”
Previously, the 35-year-old shared how she saves over £780 on her bills per year by cutting down on water usage and getting the kids involved with money-saving activities.