Last updated in November 2020
Find out how to have a great Christmas on a budget. For many people, Christmas is the biggest event of the year. The Christmas period is characterised by giving and spoiling loved ones with presents. However, what can you do if you do not have much money and still do not want to miss out?
In fact, Christmas does not solely revolve around money. Smart money management and a bit of creative thinking can easily make up for any financial shortcomings. You will be surprised by how little you have to spend for a perfect Christmas Eve.
Table of Contents
Christmas on a budget: 8 ways to make it work
1. Savings for Christmas
The key to a successful Christmas on a budget is being prepared. Of course, the more money you can save, the better. But I know this is easier said than done! Assuming you do not have a lot of money you can save, it is important to plan ahead.
Ideally, you should start in January. Think about how much money you need for Christmas and then save an equal portion of it every month.
For example, if you think you will need £200 for your Christmas on a budget, you need to save £17 every month, starting in January. If you start in June, you will need to put away £34 per month.
If your desired amount of money is beyond what you can save, you need to lower your goal. Christmas is a time of the year that should bring you joy, not drive you into bankruptcy. You need to prioritise your day-to-day life, ensure you have enough to comfortably live, and have an emergency fund.
Also, consider what other savings you may need. For example, you may want to go on holiday, buy a house, or buy a new phone. All these things need to be taken into account for a successful Christmas on a budget.
Make room for savings
In the end, you may find you have nothing left to save for your Christmas on a budget. This does not mean you should do nothing and hope your situation will improve during the year. If you act like a miracle will happen, you are likely in for a bad surprise at Christmas.
Instead, think about where you can save money to make room for your Christmas on a budget savings. For example:
- Can you cancel a subscription you do not need?
- Do you regularly buy takeaway coffee that you can live without?
- Are you able to adjust your lifestyle to live on less?
Perhaps this will enable you to put away a low amount such as £5 every month. And that is plenty! After all, you have 12 months to prepare for your Christmas on a budget. With £60, you have to get a bit creative, but it is absolutely possible to have an enjoyable Chrismas Eve.
2. Beat the Christmas rush
Before Christmas, you can almost feel the world beating a heartbeat faster. People rush to get their presents sorted, finish any projects before the year ends, and make other Christmas preparations.
When stressed, you are more likely to make bad purchase decisions. For example, you may think being stressed justifies buying new things, or comfort foods. Additionally, you may have less time for meal preparation and resort to expensive takeaway meals.
Thus, the savvy Christmas on a budget shopper beats the rush by getting their presents and Christmas on a budget preparation done before the world falls into the Christmas craze. If you have all your preparations sorted by December 1st, you are golden.
Preparing ahead of time also allows you to take advantage of sales events such as Black Friday to buy your presents at a discounted price. You can also visit thrift stores and charity shops to see if you can find any low-cost presents.
3. Christmas decoration
Decoration is an essential part of Christmas, even if it is a Christmas on a budget. You probably want to have:
- A Christmas tree
- Some decorations around the house
- Perhaps an Advent Calendar
As for a Christmas tree, the best you can do is buy a reusable tree. This way, you spend money once and have a tree for the rest of your life. It does not have to be an expensive one either. Because you are using it only for a few weeks every year, the tree will likely last a long time.
Christmas decoration for your house is quite easy to obtain on a low budget. Pine cones and twigs can make for a lovely decoration and you can collect them for free from the trees outside. Alongside this, you can pick up some cheap candles (or even make candles yourself).
Other decorative items can also be self made. There are plenty of tutorials online that help you get started. Bonus: Making Christmas on a budget decorations is a fun activity for your children.
If you have children, you can have them draw Christmas pictures or sit down and get creative. For example, you can make a gingerbread house, or make other decorations using online tutorials.
Lastly, if you want to have an Advent Calendar for your children, you can simply pick up a cheap one from ALDI. Surprisingly, you can also get Advent Calendar on eBay for a good price. Advent Calendars are not completely necessary, so you can also consider leaving them out.
4. Christmas on a budget: gifts
Naturally, the most crucial part of your Christmas on a budget are the gifts. Gifts are what people tend to spend the most money on. It seems for their loved ones, people are prepared to empty their savings account and sometimes even go into debt.
But it does not have to be that way. You can also make your family and friends happy without spending a fortune. After all, your loved ones are not with you for your money (hopefully). For example, instead of items that end up collecting dust, you could gift time.
Rather than focus on material possessions, you may choose to spend time with your family member or friend. This is an especially great gift for elderly people and those that already seem to have everything.
There is no cost involved in gifting time. Simply write on a piece of paper what you want to do with the person and put the message into an envelope. You may choose to spend a little on buying a Christmas-themed letter but this is not necessary.
If you have a special talent, you can create a present yourself. Examples include a drawing, a cake, offering to repair something or do house improvements, etc. If you are not gifted in this regard, you can still make something by following online tutorials.
For example, you could make bath bombs, jam, or bake something for your Christmas on a budget. These kind of presents are easy to make and show that you have put in thought and effort, even if the end result is not as perfect as you may have liked.
Find out more about saving money on Christmas gifts.
5. Save on travel
The easiest way to avoid travel costs is to simply stay at home and invite everyone over. However, this may not be realistic for you.
For many families, it is a tradition to travel to visit relatives that live further away. Therefore, sometimes you may end up being a host, whereas at other times you may find yourself travelling.
Thus, the next best way to have a Christmas on a budget is to plan ahead. You probably know where your relatives live and who you will likely visit during the Christmas period. Therefore, you can watch the prices and book when they are the lowest.
If you are travelling without children, taking the coach can often save you a lot of money. The journey time will be longer and not as comfortable but tickets can be super cheap. If you are with children, your best bet is to watch train prices and book in advance.
If you have a car, driving may make sense. Obviously, buying a car just for your Christmas on a budget travelling is not worth it. But if you have a car, you may as well use it. Calculate the cost of petrol for the journey and check whether it is cheaper than a bus or train ticket. Also, consider the mileage you will be adding to the car.
6. Christmas on a budget: dinner
Christmas dinner is traditionally expensive. For most people, turkey and wine are a must. If you are one of them, it is time for you to watch the prices. Wine prices are relatively stable and getting a bargain may be hard, especially as you also want decent quality. So this is where you may have to spend a little.
However, the turkey has savings potential. You can compare prices online and find the cheapest supermarket. Then, wait until they offer a good deal. Additionally, the size of the turkey also matters. Perhaps you can buy a smaller one and put more emphasis on the side dishes?
Find alternative dishes
If you are more flexible, I suggest forgetting about the turkey. Chicken is much easier to get and also easier to cook. Or you could go vegetarian. Vegetarian dishes are often cheaper and equally delicious. If it is a dish you have never cooked before, you may want to try it out a few days before Christmas Eve just to try it.
Ask your guests to contribute
You could also ask your guests to bring some food along when they visit you. Asking for cash may come across as rude and cold, but many people will be happy to contribute to the meal.
If asking for food is not an option (some relatives can be hard to persuade), you could perhaps ask them to bring drinks or snacks.
7. Avoid the money hangover after Christmas
When your Christmas on a budget approaches, keep in mind that the world does not end after the Christmas celebration. You will still have to live and make ends meet in the following year. Therefore, taking on debt to have a big Christmas celebration is not an option.
If you have overly ambitious Christmas plans, or simply do not have enough money, you have to stop. Be honest with your family and friends and tell them that this year, Christmas will be a little smaller than usual.
People who love you and are truly your friends will understand. They will not ask you to overspend. People who complain about this probably should not be part of your life anyway so you can ignore them.
8. Make some extra money
If you are tight on money, you may want to consider earning a little bit extra. One way to quickly make a few hundred pounds in the run-up to Christmas is matched betting. Matched betting is completely legal as long as sports betting is allowed in your country and not gambling.
In essence, matched bettors place bets that cover every outcome of a sports match and make a profit from bookmaker promotions such as free bets. The concept may sound confusing but once you get used to matched betting, it is as simple as clicking a few buttons.
With matched betting, I managed to earn over £12,000 since I started. This laid the foundation of my financial independence fund and inspired me to blog. You can read my free matched betting guide if you are interested in making tax-free money from home.
If matched betting is not for you, consider setting up another side hustle. For example, you could re-sell items on on ebay. You can easily start with this by selling items you no longer need.
Christmas on a budget summary
Having a successful Christmas on a budget is easier than you think. This Christmas you can relax and let your wallet take a break with these great money saving ideas:
- Savings for Christmas
- Beat the Christmas rush
- Christmas decoration
- Save on gifts
- Save on travel
- A dinner for less
- Avoid the money hangover after Christmas
- Make some extra money
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