The most wonderfully expensive time of the year
1. Plan ahead. Start your shopping and saving early: September or even before. This avoids over-spending on last-minute purchases and gets the best deals. Having a definitive list could also stop you splashing out on plastic tat.
2. Supermarkets such as Asda and Morrisons offer Christmas stamp saving schemes. You can buy the stamps earlier in the year then cash them in for your Christmas goodies. The schemes also pay interest, although your money is not guaranteed if the scheme goes bust. Martin Lewis explains it in more detail than we could here.
3. Alternatively set up a savings account from your online bank account (this takes only minutes) and regularly save into it – perhaps starting in January.
4. Voucher it! Have a trawl through websites such as www.vouchercodes.co.uk and www.savoo.co.uk to pick up codes you can use to get money off online purchases. You can even make money when you shop by buying through cashback websites such as TopCashback* or Quidco.
5. Keep an eye open in the shops and online for offers throughout the year and coming up to Christmas. Mark the diary for Black Friday (the day after American Thanksgiving every year) and the following Cyber Monday when retailers offer pre-Christmas discounts.
6. Use that freezer! Buy or make food to eat over Christmas and put it on ice. Shove any festive leftovers back in there immediately so nothing is wasted: vegetables can make soup, cooked turkey is great in curry or pies. Wine also keeps (apparently...) so check offers online or in store from summer onwards.
7. Advance shopping: buy Christmas cards, crackers, decorations and paper in the January sales. To save on postage, write the cards early and give them to people as you see them. Sending overseas is cheaper using surface mail – but you’ll have to do it in October!
8. Cut down on your gift outlay by agreeing not to exchange presents, setting a cap on spend (maybe £5 or £10) or giving only to children. You could also ask relatives to contribute to one big present for your child(ren) rather than everyone spending smaller amounts on things no-one wants. For teenagers, vouchers are a great idea because they can buy what they actually want and in the January sales.
9. Save on decorations by getting your children to make them: buy cheap fir garlands (plastic) or forage (responsibly) and attach your own pine cones, ribbons etc. Baubles tied on the ends of wide tinsel look good hung over mirrors and picture frames. There’s always paper chains too …
10. Lastly, what to wear? Check out second-hand designer dress stores for catwalk clothes at bargain prices such as www.dresseronline.co.uk and www.pandoradressagency.com. No time to browse? Throw a new jacket over last year’s outfit. Merry Christmas!
- Keep up to date with the latest fizzy deals at www.champagneguru.co.uk. To monitor wine and other offers, visit www.mysupermarket.co.uk and www.winesdirect.co.uk.
- See final posting Christmas posting dates for air and surface mail here.
- Find decent cheap Christmas decorations at Wilko, TK Maxx and www.homebargains.co.uk.
Last updated 1 November 2018.