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Worried about the cost of Christmas?

Start planning now with our tips for affordable festivities.

You won’t be alone if you’re already worrying about the festive season and how you’ll manage to pay for it.

The average person in Great Britain spent a whopping £1,108 on Christmas in 2021 (YouGov). As energy costs soar, this Christmas is going to put our finances under an even bigger strain. Here are a few things that could help.

Write your gift list

The gifts you buy for others are likely to be your biggest festive expense. The average person in Great Britain spent £388 on others in 2021 (YouGov). Middle-aged people are spending the most, with the typical 45 to 54-year-old shelling out £453 on presents.

So, start by thinking about everyone you need to buy for. Then consider whether you really need to buy that many presents. Is there anyone who wouldn’t mind if you didn’t buy them a gift? 

If other family members are also likely to be worrying about money, widen the conversation to them. Could this be the year to give Secret Santa a go, so you only have to buy one gift?

Raise some extra cash

You might have the opportunity to raise a little bit of extra cash, which could make all the difference to your Christmas budget.

Have you got a drawer full of old tech you no longer use? Even if they aren’t the latest models, you might be surprised by what they could sell for. What about clothes you never wore or no longer wear, or that the kids have outgrown? These could sell well online.

Start your shopping early

If you can start buying presents during the autumn, you’ll spread the cost and reduce the pressure on your December pay. You’ll also have more time to think about what to buy and shop around for the best deal.

Could you throw a few festive items into your weekly food shop earlier than usual? There’s no harm stocking up on Christmas cake, chocolates and alcohol, particularly if they’re on a deal.

When you’re doing your festive shopping, you might want to adopt the 12 Days of Christmas rule. Before you buy anything, ask yourself if it’ll still be used or appreciated after the 12 Days of Christmas. If it won’t, don’t buy it.

Last year, 62% of 2,000 shoppers asked, said they’d spent less on stocking fillers (Mintel). So, not only might you save money, but you could be shopping more sustainably too.

Run a festive inventory

The cost of trees, decorations, Christmas cards and wrapping paper quickly rack up. Go up to the loft or brave the cupboard under the stairs and work out what you’ve got already. If you don’t need decorations, hold off buying any more. 

Get your travel booked

Prices for trains and planes may rise the closer you get to Christmas, so try to lock down your plans and book your tickets as soon as it’s practical.

For trains, travelling in a group can sometimes get you a discount. You might also want to explore split ticketing, where you buy several single tickets for different parts of your journey rather than a bog-standard A to B return. It can be a fiddly task, but there are plenty of ticket-splitting apps and websites to help you including Split My Fare and TrainSplit.

It's also worth checking out rail discount cards. Rail cards offering a third off train travel are available for 16 to 25-year-olds, 26 to 30-year-olds and over 60s. The Two Together and Family and Friends rail cards also offer discounts for people regularly travelling together. You normally pay an upfront fee for the year to get the card and then get a discount each time you use it. Find out more at Raildcard.co.uk.

Rethink your Christmas traditions

Before you make any plans, it’s worth sitting down and talking to your family. What do you enjoy most about the festive period and what feels like a chore? Are there any costly family outings that the kids have grown out of?

If the board game you’re buying every year is only being played once, ditch that tradition and come up with a new one. If anyone does fancy a games night, dig out an old one or a pack of cards.

The same goes for get-togethers with friends. Why not go for a lower key (and cheaper) bottomless brunch? Or, instead of hosting a big dinner party, go old-school with a pot-luck supper, where everyone contributes to the food and drink.

Whatever you choose, have a Merry Christmas.