Yes the all important budget! I tend to write mine out on a spreadsheet, how much I would like to spend, what I want to spend it on etc and I try to stick to this. I know with all the festivities going around it's hard to rein in the spending and sometimes you do like to go that little bit further for some extra luxury at Christmas but if you are on a tight budget then you can't afford to be lax!
What's good about a budget spreadsheet is that you can add to it every year and check back the years to see what you bought and how much it cost etc. Handing for comparing.
Whether you like it or not it's one of those things that almost every does - send Christmas Cards. Don't get me wrong, we have a few friends that point blank refuse to send any sort of Christmas Card what so ever which is fair enough and I respect that however I do like to send cards myself. I feel it's all part of the Christmas spirit.
One of the cheapest places to purchase said Christmas Cards without losing quality or breaking the bank is the Card Factory shop. They seem to have packs of cards for only a few pound and if you have any left over you can always use them next year.
If you want to splash out a little with more personal cards then why not make your own with PhotoBox. They have great quality cards that you can add your own photos too and the always have discount codes available. Whether it be 3 for 2 mix and match, 50% off, free delivery etc so something for everyone and you could even get a little extra Christmas pressie at the same time if there's an offer on. We bought our own personalised cards from PhotoBox last year and they were a massive hit with all our family, friends and neighbours. Infact I can guarantee a few people will be doing personalised cards themselves this year! Oh and just to note when you purchase cards from PhotoBox a percentage of the sales go to the NSPCC charity for the protection of children which is really quite good.
Now everyone likes to rip open their presents on Christmas Day and it's just not the same if your presents aren't wrapped so instead of buying wrapping paper why not make some for family and friends presents with your little one to help. You'll already most likely have paints, crayons, glitter, glue and pens in the house so why not have an afternoon of crafts and make some of your very own Christmas wrapping paper. You can always buy a massive role of paper from craft shops and it's pretty cheap so will still keep you in budget and family and friends will love it that you've went to all that effort to make their gift look as personal as possible. Kids will love helping out and will feel quite proud of their creation.
If you don't feel like you have the time and effort for that sort of crafty exercise then you can always buy cheap wrapping paper from The Card Factory and Poundland although it can be a little thin so do be careful.
And… if you can't be bothered to wrap your presents (I'm often like that) then there's always good old gift bags which you can purchase from Poundland, 2 for £1 I think you can get and they're a decent size so still cheap.
If you are going all traditional for Christmas dinner like me this year then you'll be opting for a big fat juicy turkey and they don't come cheap! I've noticed a few supermarkets have offers on their turkeys at the moment so it's not a bad idea to buy it now when it's reduced and keep it frozen for Christmas day. Nothing wrong with that at all and it'll save you some much needed pennies.
Nibbles & Drinks
Everyone likes a little nibble at Christmas and if you're hosting dinner or a party then now's the time to stock up on the nibbles. Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda all have massive price cuts on little nibbles such as tins of Chocolates from Asda for £4.00 - that's the cheapest I've seen them ever! Tesco have quite a few good deals on Chocolate mints at the moment with After Eights down to £1.75 for a decent sized box or there's Thornton's Chocolate Santa's for £4.00 which is half price. They also have a massive box of Cadbury biscuits for only £5.00 which is half price as well. As for crisps, if you can't find any offers on them just buy the stores own brand ones and put them in a bowl. No one will know the difference!
Drinks are also good to buy now and stock up for later or for Christmas presents. I've noticed Asda have a massive selection of quite good Whisky reduced at the moment, for example they have a 70cl bottle of Aberlour reduced from £25.97 down to £18.00 and I think they have a 70cl bottle of Singleton reduced to £20.00 at the moment when it's normally around £35.00. Offers may be store specific so please do check before rushing out and wasting your petrol!
Make Your Own Gifts
I know this isn't for everyone and it certainly isn't for me as I just don't have the time but if you're quite artistic or good at cooking why not make your own Christmas gifts this year. Some nice homemade cookies, cakes, jams, chutneys etc will go down a treat or if you're good at sewing why not make a lovely patch work quilt or teddy for the younger generation. I've been watching Kirstie's Handmade Britain on Channel 4 Wednesday's at 8pm these past few weeks and I have to say some of the crafts that she has taken part in look amazing. I really wish I could have done some of them myself and if I ever have some spare time in future I definitely will.
Plan, plan and plan some more!
The more you plan the less likely you are to buy impulse gifts and spend way more money than you ever expected. Don't leave your Christmas shopping until the night before Christmas either. This will cause you no end of stress and all you'll have left in your purse at the end of it will be moths!
So there you have it, some tips to a cheaper Christmas this year. I really do hope it helps but I would love to hear your tips and tricks for a cheaper Christmas. Please share!