In the UK, the average cost of Christmas per adult is anywhere between £750 and £1,500. This includes gift buying, food & drink, parties & transport, decorations and other festive treats.
That’s not to say some people will spend much more or much less, it’s an average after all, but let’s be honest – that’s a hefty amount of money being laid out for one day… every year.
With one in three of us relying on credit cards to get us through the festive season, it’s no wonder that January is renowned for people being in debt and low on money. Especially when you consider that most people have to wait five+ weeks till their next payday thanks to the ‘helpful’ early December pay packet.
Personally, I don’t believe that you need to spend hundreds of pounds to enjoy Christmas. The expectation of the weeks leading up to December 25th is so stressful that it can drive people to depression and ill health.
Here are a few ways to have a cost effective Christmas while still having a good time.
1. Save throughout the year
It might be too late, depending on when you’re reading this, but if you insist on splashing the cash in December, then it’s a good idea to set up a separate savings account specifically for Christmas.
Spreading the cost across the year and saving a little each month will lessen the blow when it comes round to buying gifts, decorations, holiday party outfits and all of the other paraphernalia that we’re all guilty of buying.
2. Assess your gift list
My family have created a new rule where we don’t buy each other presents for Christmas or birthdays. We did this because the pressure of buying an excellent present 2-3 times a year was getting too much and the quality of the gifts was decreasing year-on-year.
This might not be the solution for you, but if you’re reaching for your credit card to finance your great-grandmother’s dog’s gift – you might be buying for too many people.
It might not be a popular decision among your loved ones, but it’s okay to set boundaries and ask your relatives to stop buying you gifts because you no longer can (or want to) buy them anything.
Gift giving/receiving is a big part of Christmas, yes, but if it’s causing you stress, worry or financial burden, then it isn’t giving you joy.
4. Don’t buy too much food
Years ago, people would stock up on food around Christmas time because the shops would be closed for a week. Nowadays, the shops are only closed on Christmas Day (and some aren’t!), so you don’t need to do your food shop like you’re preparing for war.
Also, 4.2 million Christmas dinners are thrown away each year, mainly due to people buying too much food. Not only is this bad for the Earth, but it’s awful for your pocket.
You may think you need 12 different types of cheeses to impress your guests, but if you’re chucking half of that out because it goes uneaten, perhaps you’re buying too much.
4. Buy online
The M&S Christmas display might be tempting, but more often than not, you’ll be paying higher prices for presents than you would online. Places like Amazon, notonthehighstreet and firebox have a wide selection of great (and some bad) gifts.
Be sure to bulk buy if you’re getting more than one present from each place as the delivery costs can impact on your overall cost.
5. Ditch the cards
If you can find me someone who saves every single Christmas card they get and reads them back monthly, then fair enough. However, the cost of buying and sending cards can stack up really fast and most of the people you’re sending them to, probably don’t need them.
Strip down your card list and where possible, deliver them by hand to save you on stamps.
6. Limit your social occasions
You might be shouting “Grinch” at me through your screen, but December can be a costly month simply because of all the socialising. Meeting up with everyone you’ve ever met because ‘it’s Christmas’ is a sure-fire way to drain your bank account.
If eating out every weekend of December (and some of November!) is leaving you short, it’s time to get it under control. Amid all the Christmas parties, family dinners and ‘just because’ drinks, you should prioritise what’s important and where you can RSVP no.