It’s only six weeks until Christmas! Time to start the shopping – or is it? This year I’m trying to curb the usual Minted household excesses. As presents are my biggest spend, I’m racking my brain for cost-cutting ideas and considering some radical strategies.
The most obvious way to save is not to buy presents at all. While this seems a bit Grinch, think about how many pairs of socks or bottles of hand lotion you really want or need. And is it really worth giving boxes of chocolates to people who aren’t that fussed about them purely for tradition? Apparently a massive £5 billion is wasted on unwanted Christmas gifts every year, says price comparison site Finder.com. That’s a whole lot of cash that could be spent on many more worthwhile items or projects.
Non-gifting is probably indefensible if you take and don’t return. But it might just be workable if you agree in advance with your friend or relative that you won’t be getting them a present and you don’t expect anything in return. You might even be able to soften the blow by suggesting that instead you put the money you would’ve spent on each other towards a holiday or night out sometime in the following year.
I confess I’m not brave enough to take this route. However, at Minted HQ we do have a rule that prohibits adult-to-adult giving but adult to child presents (and vice versa) are welcome. We find this works well. Everyone has something to open while it relieves the pressure of finding original gifts for other adults who pretty much have everything they want anyway.
Another solution is my friend’s ‘consolidation’ system. In her house, you pool all the money you would’ve splurged on individual gifts and spent it on a single present for just one family member. (Givers and receivers are organised in advance.) It means you have a large sum (£100, £200 or whatever your budget) which will buy something of value rather than getting everyone cheaper, and perhaps undesirable, items.
Every family I know seems to do Christmas a little differently. It’s hard to change what the children are used to. My kids, despite being teenagers, still want chocolate advent calendars, for example. Nevertheless, I might be able to introduce some changes over time. Mr Minted has agreed to give up his stocking this year while I have laid down the law on the tree. We will be dusting off the old plastic one which saves at least £50 on a real pine. As for my letter to Santa this year, I’ve asked for vouchers. An M&S voucher is always useful and if things get tough I can always sell it for cash through online website Zeek*. Or blow it on fizzy – for next Christmas, of course.
See our SMM guide to saving at Christmas here.