How to do Christmas on a budget in 2023

Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year”; however, it can also be the most stressful, especially if you’re battling financial woes.

After all, there’s a lot to pay for during the holiday period, from gifts to outfits to ingredients for the perfect roast dinner. As such, it is hardly surprising that “3 million people across the UK feel financial pressures make Christmas less enjoyable,” a figure that will likely rise in 2023 amid the cost of living crisis.

However, there are plenty of ways in which you can do Christmas on a budget – while still having plenty of fun!  

Set yourself a realistic budget.

The first step towards a budget-friendly Christmas is actually having a budget in mind. Otherwise, you may fall into the trap of spending more money than you can realistically afford. If you tend to be bad at budgeting, try downloading a budgeting app on your phone that keeps you in check.

Plan ahead.

Planning ahead for what gifts you need to buy for each friend and family member can help you avoid last-minute panic buying. It also means that you can ensure all of your gifts fall within budget. 

While your kids may be happy to write out an endless list for Santa, don’t feel like you have to shop blind for your loved ones, either. Ask people what they’d like or need, as this can make shopping a lot easier. 

Start shopping now.

The best time to start Christmas shopping was yesterday. The next best is today! 

After all, the more you’re able to spread out gift-buying throughout the year, the less burdensome it will feel around the holidays. This way, you will not feel as though you’re relying entirely on your December payday to buy everything on your list. 

Giving yourself a headstart on Christmas shopping can also help you to avoid the notorious crowds that gather the week before Christmas, and it also means that the gifts you are looking for will not sell out or increase in price. 

Take advantage of sales.

Keeping an eye out for upcoming sales (online and in-person) is another great way to do Christmas on a budget. For example, in recent years, the Black Friday shopping craze has made its way overseas from the US. Now, numerous stores throughout the UK are slashing their prices on the 24th of November. While you may need to brave the crowds, this could be a great way to save big. 

Use digital discount codes.

If you’re shopping online for Christmas gifts, make sure you’re taking advantage of online discount codes and coupons. For example, you should download the browser add-on Honey, which automatically searches the web for discount codes on hundreds of sites. As such, you could save a considerable amount of money on your gifts.

You should also check out cashback websites and apps, which means that some of  your money will be returned after you’ve made a purchase. However, it’s important to note that this process can take several weeks.

Organise a family Secret Santa.

If you’re looking for a way to drastically reduce the amount you spend on Christmas gifts each year, why not suggest doing a family Secret Santa instead of buying individual gifts? This way, each person can get one thing they really like instead of smaller gifts they may not want or need. 

Shop local.

When buying ingredients for your roast dinner, shopping at local grocers or markets is often cheaper than shopping at supermarkets or corner shops. While it may be more of a hassle than buying everything in one place, the money saved makes this a worthwhile venture. If you prefer to buy ahead of time, you can also freeze some of the ingredients until you need them. 

Find free ways to have fun.

Keeping your kids entertained during the Christmas holidays can also get expensive – at least until they’ve opened the presents. So, too, can entertaining friends and family who may be visiting from other parts of the UK. As such, you should keep an eye out for free (or discounted) family days out.

However, there are many free or low-cost activities you can participate in during this time. For example, you could:

  • Visit a local museum or gallery, many of which will run festive-themed events or exhibits.
  • Go on a winter walk. 
  • Go for a walk or drive around your neighbourhood to look at the Christmas lights.
  • Walk through local Christmas markets. 

Remember that presence comes before presents.

Many people feel under pressure at Christmas, and not just when it comes to cooking the perfect turkey. For example, you may find yourself worrying about buying the best (or most expensive) presents in order to impress others or to bring a smile to their face. However, it’s important to note that in all scenarios, your presence and love are a greater gift than anything that can be placed under the tree.

If you are struggling financially, having an open and honest conversation with your family could put some of your worries to bed. For example, you could set smaller budgets for how much you can spend or skip gift-giving entirely.

Seek help and support.

If you’re in need of extra financial support in order to make the most of the Christmas period, there are plenty of resources you can rely on. For example, you may want to take out a loan through the Clockwise Credit Union.

Unlike other companies, we consider loans from all members of our community, including those who may receive benefits. Our aim throughout is to improve the financial well-being of our members in Leicester, Leicestershire, Rutland, Northamptonshire, Coventry and Warwickshire.

To take out a small loan, you can fill out an online form or reach us by phone, and we’ll provide you with an answer within one working day. This way, you can get started on your Christmas shopping and planning an unforgettable holiday as soon as possible.

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