Last week I wrote this post on how to plan for a debt free Christmas. I discussed the importance of working out a budget for Christmas in advanced. This allows you to set aside money each month to ensure you spend the festive season debt free. I wanted to follow that post with some tips on how to get organised and spread the cost of Christmas. In particular, spreading the cost of food and gifts.
Spread the cost of gifts
Gifts are always the largest expense for me, as I imagine they are for most families. There are a couple of ways to handle this without scrimping on the things you give to your loved ones.
Shop in the sales
Some people choose to shop in the January sales, others keep an eye out for good deals throughout the year. Whichever method suits your shopping preference, there are huge savings to be had if you plan ahead. Begin with a list of items for each person that you are buying for. Then simply keep an eye out in the shops and on places like amazon for great deals.
Use a cashback websites
It might be the case that you aren’t able to save money on an item itself however there is always the option to earn some of your money back through cash back websites. Top Cash Back is one of my favourites. Instead of going straight to the seller’s website, check to see if Top Cash Back have a link that you can buy through. You can use this link here to sign up. It is an affiliate link and I receive a small bonus at no extra cost to you if you use it, thank you.
Take part in Secret Santa
This one is a big hit in my family. With so many siblings in my generation now having children, gifts were getting out of hand. Instead we put all seven names in a hat and agree to spend £20 on one gift only. We all still receive something nice and it doesn’t break the bank. It also means you have to spend a lot less time shopping too.
Make your gifts
Making gifts is of course a great option for a number of reasons. Firstly, you can determine exactly how much you want to spend. If for example, you choose to make something like Christmas cookies, you can make as many or as few as you choose. And of course, home made gifts have a very personal feel to them which is perfect for Christmas! From hampers to home made rhubarb gin, there are so many things that can be made on a small budget!
Spread the cost of food
This might be more unusual for some people as most of us are so used to doing a weekly shop or popping into the supermarket to pick up things as and when we need them. It is actually possible to prepare food for Christmas weeks, and even months in advance. What I will say is that I am no culinary genius. I would suggest doing your research in terms of food prep and so on from a more professional source.
Pick up a few items with each weekly shop
There are a number of items that we often buy at Christmas that have long shelf lives. Items such as cranberry sauce, packets of stuffing, dried fruit and melba toast can be bought early and stored in the cupboard. These are all the sorts of “special extras” we buy for the big day where the cost will soon add up. Purchasing a couple of items with each normal shop in the weeks and months running up to the 25th will help you to spread the cost and feel more organised.
Make some items ahead of time and freeze.
So many food items from meat to vegetables can be prepared and frozen ahead of time. Did you know that you can peel, chop and blanche your carrots, parsnips and sprouts and freeze them months before Christmas? Last year myself and my fiance bought most our veggies in October. We prepared them, wrapped them and stored them away in the freezer. They were done before Halloween! Doing this can also help you save time and allow you to enjoy more of your Christmas eve instead of spending the day in the kitchen!
You don’t need to fall for the seasonal packaging.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for tartan and holly covered everything at Christmas. When you look closer at what you’re buying however, the decoration on the packaging is an excuse to bump the price up.
Last year for example my fiance and I found an amazing looking ham joint in the supermarket that came with an incredible looking glaze and cloves to garnish. When we looked closer however, we realised we could make the glaze for pennies and we already had cloves in the kitchen cupboard. All we actually needed was plain a ham joint, which was at least £2 cheaper!
Incorporate each of these suggestions into your preparation and you will be sure to have an affordable and stress free festive season. You can breath knowing that you are about to begin a new year free of Christmas debt.
For more fantastic tips the Attachment Mummy has written a great post on How to Get to January Without Going Broke.