How to have a more frugal Christmas in the cost of living crisis

22 December 2022, 14:05

Many Brits will be looking at ways to save over Christmas due to the cost of living crisis
Many Brits will be looking at ways to save over Christmas due to the cost of living crisis. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

For a fixed date in the calendar, Christmas has still managed to arrive at the worst time of year for many.

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Brits are contending with inflation and many have only recently been tempted to even touch their costly central heating due to plunging temperatures.

It means the usually expensive festive holiday could make an even bigger dent into wallets and purses as other things we spend money on rise in price too.

Here are some ideas about how to keep the costs down this Christmas.

Speak to friends and family instead of trying to please people

The Government's Money Helper service says the most common reason people say they overspend at Christmas is the pressure they feel to please loved ones.

Many will be doing last minute Christmas shopping and hoping that festive deals might help balance the books a bit.

Read more: Weather forecast: Will it snow for Christmas?

But present buying is usually a pricey affair and combined with other difficulties like rising energy bills and inflation in general, it could be an idea to manage expectations with those you exchange gifts with.

It is worth discussing with friends and family about how much you'll be aiming to spend on gifts if you're worried about the cost.

Avoiding trying to please people with gifts is one way to save money
Avoiding trying to please people with gifts is one way to save money. Picture: Alamy

Giving them presents also sets an expectation that they should get you something in return, which could affect their own spending.

Talking could be easier said than done, though. Money Helper said three-quarters of people said they could talk about the cost of buying gifts with a partner but just a third would do the same with their mother, friends, siblings or children.

But it is worth remembering that most people are in the same boat this year.

Use a budget and stick to it

Setting out how much you can afford and sticking to it could allow you to rein in spending.

Money Helper says the average Christmas budget for a household is £350, including presents, travel and food.

Start by drawing up how much you will spend on gifts for friends and family, then work out how much you'll spend on food.

Don't be afraid to price down Christmas dinner

Consider using cheaper stores to buy your Christmas dinner ingredients.

Money Saving Expert said its blind taste test found nurses preferred the lower cost brands of turkey, champagne and other items 62% of the time.

Shopping around for the Christmas dinner could prove rewarding
Shopping around for the Christmas dinner could prove rewarding. Picture: Alamy

Shop smarter

Be vigilant for any good special officers and reduced items as you shop over the festive period.

While it's always useful to be sceptical of deals or bargains at this time of year, looking around shops for genuine offers could prove useful, whether you're buying for someone else or looking to complete your Christmas dinner menu.

Similarly, using the web to compare prices could really make an impact on your money.

There are a number of websites that allow you to compare shopping items – and don't forget to see if online retailers are cheaper than stores, too.

Try buying second hand

While this can be a taboo for many, purchasing second hand can still get some gifts you might have struggled to buy elsewhere, at least for the same price.

Gemma Bird, who wrote Money Mum Official: Save Yourself Happy, recommended charity shops, car boot sales and online marketplace services like on Facebook as areas you can pick up a bargain.

"Secondhand toys are fine for children, especially plastic ones which you can disinfect. Children often spend more time playing with the boxes anyway," she said, according to Good Housekeeping.

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