Are you ready for Christmas?

Christmas is less than a month away and many of us will be splurging on Christmas presents and preparing for Christmas get-togethers. It can get quite stressful especially if you are on a budget or working right up to Christmas Eve.

We have put some tips for you on how you can plan ahead to save all the stress that comes with getting ready for Christmas.

1. Get ahead in planning and preparing

To make sure that you don’t overspend at Christmas is to make sure that you plan properly.

Make a budget to work out how much you are willing to spend at Christmas and use lists and planners to keep track of what you are spending on. Your budget should be realistic and keep some money aside in case of emergencies.

Make lists of who you are buying presents for, a food and drinks list and everything that you are planning on doing during the Christmas break.

2. Small cuts, big savings

Once you have your budget and lists, you can shop around for deals so you can start saving.

Also, if you have a shortfall on your budget, see what you can cut out from your regular habits. For example, rather than buying lunch at work, make some at home and take it with you.

3. Save on presents

It can get quite stressful to splash out on presents. Here are some ideas on reducing the cost of Christmas presents:

  • Limit present buying

Apart from buying presents for those closest to you, re-think who you are getting a present for.

If you want to really cut costs on spending, maybe it’s worth having a discussion to put a hold on giving presents. You might be pleasantly surprised to see how many would be willing to let the gift-giving go.

  • Secret Santa with a limit of £5 or £10

If you have a big group of friends or colleagues, Secret Santa is a good way to cut down the Christmas present costs.

All of the names of the people involved are put into a hat, and each person draws out a name. You only buy for the name that you have picked, rather than having to buy for everyone.

Add in a low budget limit, say £5 or £10, and it’s a great way to keep the cost of Christmas down.

You can even use an online Secret Santa generator such as Elfster or Drawnames to make it even easier to set up a Secret Santa.

  • Make your own gifts

You can make some delicious sweet treats such as cookies, jams, curds or muffins.

If you don’t have time to make homemade treats, you can make your own gift vouchers where you can pledge to do something such as make a meal, do their laundry for them, babysit for your friends or mow their lawn.

  • Buy a combined gift

If you are buying a combined gift, you could do a hamper for the family such as a family movie night, basketful of homemade goodies or something useful that they could use as a family.

  • Get Christmas Crafty

Make your own cards and gifts. You can also get the children involved in making these.

4. Get cashback and boost your budget

There are cashback websites such as TopCashBack and Quidco that can help you add extra pounds back to your account (and Christmas budget) when you shop online through their websites.

Remember to always shop around for the best offers and check prices.

5. Save on food

Food does play an important part in any celebration and could be the biggest part of your Christmas budget.

To cut costs on Christmas food:

  • Limit food waste by only buying what you need or thinking of other recipes that you can have for leftovers.
  • Plan the menus for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

By meal planning, you can write out your shopping list and help you with food budgeting. This will also help you keep control of your Christmas spending.

  • Find deals on wine and bubble online

Some supermarkets start their deals in early November so keep your eyes peeled for pre-Christmas deals.

Check out wine sites to make sure that you are getting the best value for money.

  • Buy own-brand products

Quite often than not, the own-brand products are just as good (if not better) than the branded products. Therefore it’s worth trying out the cheaper alternatives and you may be pleasantly surprised.

However some products such as Christmas turkey, it’s worth spending a little extra to make sure that you have a high-quality product.

6. Advance bookings on travel

If you will be visiting your loved ones by train, it’s worth buying train tickets in advance. They are usually available around 12 weeks before the date of travel and the price is usually lowest soon after they are released.

7. Post early for Christmas

Be on the lookout for the last posting dates on the Royal Mail website.

By posting early, you may be able to use second class post rather than first-class stamps. This way you will be able to take advantage of slower, and cheaper parcel services.

8. Cut delivery costs

Rather than using the Post Office to send your heavy parcels, look for alternatives which may give you a better deal. For example, take a look at Hermes.

9. Prepare for next Christmas

  • Start saving early to spread the cost

You can open a Christmas Savings Account to help you start saving for next Christmas. You can withdraw your savings at the end of November of the next year. To open your Christmas Savings Account, simply email us.

  • Take advantage of end-of-sale bargains

Stock up on decorations, Christmas trees, cards, gifts and wrapping paper in the January sales.

Don’t forget to put them in a ‘Christmas box’ so that you don’t buy more later on.