Many of us spend far beyond our means at Christmas – and much more than we really need to. On average, the typical household spends an extra £800 in December – around £500 of which is on gifts. As much as we hope we have found something the recipient will love, each year around £42 million worth are unwanted.
Gifts, of course, aren’t the only things we are spending our money on at Christmas. According to the Bank of England, spending also increases significantly on the following:
That’s not to mention the cost that our festive splurge has on the environment. During December three million tonnes of rubbish is produced.
This Christmas, when many of us will have to watch the pennies more than ever before, here’s some tips on how to cut down and think more about sustainability.
Create a budget
How much can you actually afford to spend this Christmas? Work that out and then draw up a budget – split this between presents – then each person you have to buy for, food and drink and anything else you may need. Once you have your budget, you can then move it between different things but always checking in to make sure you don’t go over the total amount you’ve set aside.
Secret Santa doesn’t have to just be something you do with your colleagues at work – it can also be a great way to cut down on the cost of presents when buying for friends and family. Set a budget, pick a name and then buy for that person only. This way, everyone has something to open on the day and you don’t break the bank – or become stressed – trying to choose a gift for each person. Looking for something to gift to your coworkers this Christmas? Check out this list of ideas.
As the nights become darker and colder during December, why not spend your evenings making things for Christmas. This could be gifts – but it might also be making decorations or your own crackers. It could be creating your own cards or baking festive treats. It will be fun, save you money and add that personal touch to the festivities.
Choose experiences over things
Why not treat yourself and book an experience for the whole family, so you can all look forward to doing something next year, when (hopefully) the lockdown measures are eased. This could be anything from an alpaca walk to an escape room. It might be one gift you buy everyone or something you do instead of getting each other presents. Either way, you’ll create wonderful memories that will last far longer than a physical gift.
Buy second hand
This is particularly relevant if you are buying for young children, they don’t know whether that toy is new from a department store or if it’s pre-loved from the charity shop. You can pick up some great gifts when you shop second hand. Also, depending what you find, this is always an opportunity to upcycle and give it a new lease of life.
Create a shopping list
It’s so easy to overspend when you go food shopping, especially with all the offers in the lead up to Christmas. This is why it’s important to think about exactly what you are going to need, make a list and stick to it. That includes those things you buy because you feel like you should – if no one ever eats the sprouts, don’t get them. Buy too much and you’ll only end up throwing it away anyway.
Many of us are shopping online at the moment anyway but when you do you can look for discount codes first. Likewise, use sites such as TopCashback and you’ll get a percentage of the money that you spend back. Look for places you can save, too – do you have points on your Boots card waiting to be spent or Tesco clubcard vouchers? Could you tick several gifts off at once on the 3 for 2 offers? Always look for offers and ways to save before you start spending.
A few changes can make a huge difference – making Christmas far cheaper but no less enjoyable.