Christmas is a hugely expensive time of year for most families. Gifts aren’t the only thing that we have to set money aside to buy. If we’re hosting Christmas at home then we also have to provide a huge amount of festive food along with decorations. That’s a whole lot of festive cheer that we might not be feeling when we contemplate receiving our credit card bills in January. Here are a few tips to help you keep that Christmas sparkle without breaking the bank.
Admittedly this is harder for kids – who knows what they’ll be into by the time December rolls around? But if you start preparing early, you can make sure that the cost is spread out over more time, making it easier to manage. You can get plenty of non-perishable items through the year – books, games, toiletry sets – that you can squirrel away before Christmas. Just make sure you keep a note of what you’ve bought for each person in case you end up doubling up!
There’s nothing more special than a handmade gift. You don’t have to buy expensive gifts from your kids to your parents – instead, make a batch of cookies that they can give to their grandparents, and get them to decorate a picture frame that you can slip a nice photo of the kids into. Not only will your gift be touching, personal and hopefully delicious, but it won’t cost you too much either. You also don’t need to purchase a lot of expensive decorations – wreaths are expensive so google how to make one, along with fragrant pomander oranges and handmade table displays.
It’s tempting to traipse around a toy store and go completely nuts in the weeks before Christmas, but make sure you don’t do that. A load of plastic tat that will just get broken quickly and clutter up your house is not what the Christmas spirit is intended for. Instead, buy each child one big gift that they really want – look online for bikes and scooters for sale, or get a creative item like a toy kitchen or garage – and select your other gifts carefully so they can be used and played with all year round instead of discarded quickly after the holiday season. Go to a thrift store and buy a bundle of clothes to play dress up with, or get a load of art supplies that will keep your kids busy for a long time.
Chances are, you don’t need as much as you think you do. You don’t want to be left with a load of Christmas leftovers that will inevitably end up in the trash can. Use an online calculator to work out how much food everyone will need, and check out prices in different stores before you commit to buying any big items like ham or alcohol.
Most of all, remember that Christmas is about creating happy memories together. A family walk on a snowy Christmas afternoon or a midnight carol service on Christmas Eve is much more important than the contents of your kids’ stockings.