Christmas can be a very expensive time of year as all of the costs add up for presents, festive decorations, meals out with friends and entertaining at home. Planning and paying for Christmas induced festivities can lead to a jaw-dropping January, so we have some savvy tips for you.
According to the Deloitte Christmas Survey 2018, people plan to spend on average, £567 each during Christmas time, with nearly half (46%) planning to use their credit cards, store cards or bank overdrafts to cover the cost.
For solos and singles, the cost of Christmas is not so easily shared without a partner on hand, so it pays to be savvy when planning for the festive season to make sure you don’t run up too much debt going into the New Year.
So here are a few handy planning tips to help us solos ease through Christmas without overspending, but also making it look and feel as if you haven’t scrimped like Ebenezer Scrooge.
CHRISTMAS PLANNING TIPS & IDEAS
1 Work out a Christmas budget and stick to it
Check your bank balance and make a note of what essential bills will be coming out of your bank over the Christmas and New Year period. A lot of companies will pay their staff early for Christmas, but this sudden feeling of being flush with cash doesn’t mean you should go on a mad spending spree!
Remember you will have many weeks to get through before being paid again at the end of January. You should set a budget you can afford and fit your Christmas plans into this budget rather than making a wish-list of everything you want and overspending to meet it.
2 Agree on a gift price limit with your family and friends
With so many family members and friends to buy presents for, it can be so easy to overspend. According to the Deloitte Christmas Survey mentioned above, chocolates, books, cosmetics and perfume are the most popular gifts for adults at Christmas.
These are good choices for gifts because they come in such a wide variety of prices that you will be able to find an ideal gift to meet your agreed gift cost limit.
Work out a list of everyone you want to buy a present for and stick to it – don’t get tempted by little extras, stay to your agreed gift budget and remember to factor in any postage charges for those gifts that need to be sent.
#Tip: Buy light gifts for posting to keep postage costs down.
3 Buy early when you spot a bargain
For all retailers, the 4th quarter of the year is, unsurprisingly, the biggest quarter for sales over the whole year. This is a very important time for retailer’s bottom line so the weeks between October and the end of December is when they need to make money.
They know you not only want to spend your money at this time of year, you effectively have to because you cannot leave those Christmas stockings empty, can you?
This is why most shops will have some good offers and discounts in the weeks before Christmas. Mostly, you can find high street stores offering 3 for 2 and half-price deals on gifts, but many of these offers usually expire before December – so it pays to buy early!
4 Buy a couple of extra little presents
While you may already be wincing at the thought of how many people are on your Christmas gift list, it is always worth picking up a couple of extra little generic gifts.
Doing this can save a lot of embarrassment when you have inadvertently missed someone off your list, or someone unexpected turns up bearing gifts for you.
Think of picking up little things like a Christmas candle, a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates etc. Anything that would make a nice gift when already wrapped up in Christmas paper.
You can keep a couple of spare blank gift tags and a pen in a handy place (but hidden from sight) so you can quickly write their names and attach the tag.
5 Wrap as you buy
It is not just all the Christmas gift shopping that can be overwhelming – spending an evening wrapping up your gifts can also cut into valuable Netflix and chill time watching Hallmark Christmas films!
You will find it a lot less overwhelming to wrap up presents as you buy them. This way you can get them wrapped up, labelled and stored away until you need them rather than have to face wrapping up endless presents all in one go.
6 Consider home-made gifts
If you have never thought about home-made Christmas gifts before, why not give them a go?
Are you good at baking or sewing? Make something based on the skill that you have. Think about making things like a jar of home-made Christmas biscuits decorated with ribbon, or a home-made Christmas wreath for a front door, or a delicate hand-crafted decoration for the Christmas tree.
Not creative? Then why not make a voucher for some free babysitting time to give new parents a night off and a chance to go out for a quiet meal.
Your family and friends will be so much more appreciative of a personal gift with some extra care and thought that you put into it rather than something bought off a shelf. It also can cost you a lot less than buying a gift if you are on a tight budget.
7 The Christmas food & drink shop
If you are planning to be the ‘host or hostess with the mostest’ this Christmas, then you need to shop around for food and drink bargains as the Christmas food and drink shop has to be the most expensive layout of the year.
Don’t be tempted by expensive labels and branded products – some of the major supermarket own brands have been getting rave reviews for their festive food ranges for years and are a fraction of the cost of leading brands.
Look for discounts when you are buying wine and spirits. Many wine shops will offer special deals when buying lots of bottles in the same place.
Are you inviting round some single friends for Christmas dinner? Your single friends would be more than happy to contribute something for the dinner table, so keep your costs down by making a list of foods, drinks, and table decorations such as a festive tablecloth, napkins, crackers and candles for people to choose from and can supply for the big day.
8 Make the most of workplace bonuses
Does your workplace offer any perks or bonuses? Many companies offer their staff perks such as high-street vouchers, cinema tickets, discount schemes with local restaurants, online gift cards and gym or leisure discounts that you could use to share as gifts.
Make the gift of time and go catch a Christmas film, a meal in a local restaurant or a day out with your best friend over the festive season. Your time and attention will be much more treasured and appreciated than a throwaway gift.
9 Make a note of your gifts (sneaky re-gifting tip!)
It is a good idea to keep a note of what gifts you get and who gave them to you. No matter how thoughtful a gift may be, there will always be a gift or two (or three, or four….) that you may not particularly like.
If the gifts that you don’t like are non-food items that you can also keep for a long time, then consider storing them away to re-gift next Christmas!
While this is a very thrifty tip that can save you a lot of money on your Christmas presents next year, make sure that you don’t give the same thing back to the person who gifted it to you in the first place. Way too embarrassing for this cheeky trick! This is where your note-taking will come in very handy.
10 Escape Christmas for a day (or a night or two)
As the Christmas season rolls on it can become a bit overwhelming, even for the biggest fan of everything Christmas! This is why it can be a nice treat for yourself to take a break and escape for a bit of ‘me-time’. What could be better than booking yourself in for a relaxing spa day at one of the many day spa’s or spa-hotels around the country, such as Ragdale Hall or Stobo Castle, for example?
Both Stobo and Ragdale Hall and other spa-hotels usually offer Christmas spa days or three-night festive breaks giving you a great opportunity to break with tradition and spend some time in luxurious surroundings.
Whether you book alone or you decide you want to invite some single friends along for a special treat, or all chip in for a group booking – the choice is yours.
Most spa resorts will have such treats in store to tantalise the senses such as a heated infinity pool, sauna, aromatherapy massage, reflexology, seaweed body wraps, luxury facials, manicures, pedicures and even more!
They will almost certainly will offer sumptuous Christmas lunch options with champagne and cocktails, so you won’t be missing out on some of the nicer elements of Christmas that you would enjoy at home.
11 Charitable giving at Christmas
Christmas is always a time of year that we should think about charity, so instead of buying some cheap plastic gifts for your nearest and dearest, how about giving a gift that can really help others!
Oxfam-unwrapped is a great option if you want to contribute to a worthwhile cause with your Christmas gift-giving. You can buy a range of gift vouchers that can give life-changing opportunities to others to support women entrepreneurs and provide education for girls in some of the poorest parts of Africa.
12 Lend a helping hand
If you are not planning to visit family or friends for Christmas dinner, then why not spend it helping out one of your local charities. For example Crisis, the homeless charity will be seeking volunteers to help at their homeless centres across London over Christmas.
The Salvation Army always run community Christmas lunches across the country. There could be one near you that you can help out at!
13 Have a ‘Friendmas’
If you are in the lucky position to have a few single friends, then why not have a ‘friendmas’. This is where you can make a pact with your single friends to have each other’s back. So when you are faced with going to a work do alone, get one of your single friends to tag along as your plus-one and then return the favour!
What could be better than to spend Christmas sharing your time with a bunch of your favourite single friends? You will always have someone to get drunk with, a companion to take with you for any work-related festive nights out and you get to double your fun because you get to reciprocate by going to their work dos and nights out too!
What is always great about organising a ‘friendmas’ is they have your back so you don’t need to be so discerning about your festive nights out, going to parties or work dos – you can go to all of them and not worry about going alone.
We hope these Christmas budgeting and planning tips help you to not only save some money but to make you think more savvy about your plans for the up and coming festive season.