Christmas Crunch - money saving ideas
This is the time of year that we love to spoil our children - yet for many this year, there simply won’t be as much money available to fund expensive gifts. Here are a few ideas we have collected to help you out…
SET AN OVERALL BUDGET
Do it now! Work out how much you can actually spend on Christmas (without going into debt) and stick to that budget. Work out which bits of Christmas really ‘make it’ for you and your family - and focus on these, ditch the rest. You will thank yourself come January when the credit card bill arrives...
TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN
Younger children generally don’t notice if they get the latest Christmas gadget or not - they are often more interested in the box and packaging than the actual gift!
Older children do unfortunately notice, but they are also capable of understanding what is happening if you take the time to talk to them. If this Christmas is going to be different financially than other years, spend some time with them explaining the situation. Re-enforce how much you love them and want to be able to treat them, but also need to be wise with the resources that you do have. Giving them the gift of ‘time’ may well be the best investment you could ever make.
If they think that Santa brings the presents, you do not have to crush their belief, remember that you can get some absolute bargains which do not cost the earth – keep reading to find out where from!
When our children were smaller, we would buy boxes of ‘fancy’ breakfast cereals & wrap them up to put under the Christmas tree. They take up space (important for the tree to look ‘full’ of gifts!) and were a treat for the children. Even now that they are older, they have a groan when they see a big cereal-shaped box under the tree - but love it really! We have also moved onto wrapping up ‘special’ shampoos & shower gels - all items you would normally buy for the family, but they get to have their own bottle e.g. ‘blond’ shampoo for the blond, ‘grown-up’ shower gel for the son.
The lesson learnt is that most of the fun is in the thought and the surprise – plus being a bit more creative with the gifts, makes giving them even more fun for you all too!
So think outside of the (Christmas!) box when it comes to gifting… how about:
Giving your children a Gift Card with a difference? How about one for their favourite dinner, or a special ‘date night’ with Dad to see a movie of their choice, or an hour of football at the weekend/during the holidays, or a camping trip (or sleep out in the back garden - to be saved for warmer weather), or a ‘free’ room clean, or breakfast in bed (great treat for teenagers & kids of all sizes)... the possibilities are endless!
Help your children make vouchers to give to their Mum/grandparents etc. e.g. ‘I promise to be your slave for one hour’ or ‘I promise to let you sleep in on Saturday morning’, or ‘Wash the car’ etc.
For your wife/partner...breakfast in bed, empty the dishwasher, a pyjama day...use your imagination but do try to think from her perspective not just your own!
You can get great bargains these days. Look in discount shops, local selling groups on social media, freecycle, or charity shops – presents do not have to be brand new, half the time they may never have been played with anyway, and furthermore, you are being very environmentally conscious by finding some toys or goods to be re-loved! Wrap up with shiny paper & they won’t even notice.
Half the fun of Christmas is all the unwrapping so why not take a small gift & wrap it over and over with lots of different layers. Perhaps hide a sweet or small (cheap) treat inside each layer to add to the fun.
Sounds a bit cheesy, but knowing someone has spent time making something for you is actually really special. What are your skills, or what could you learn to do? You could try spending time with the kids making Christmas decorations, cards, baking treats...
This concept has been used in the office for a long time but can be extended to the family. Put everyone’s names in a hat & all pull out one name , set a budget and only buy a gift for that person.
Younger children love to dress up, why not make them a dressing up box for Christmas this year? Use your own old clothes, or go to the local charity shop to pick up some real gems.
Post-Christmas sales are likely to be very generous this year, why not buy teenagers gift-vouchers which they can spend after Christmas on the things they want. With discounts up to 70% you can spend less now & they will be able to purchase more in the sales.
Consider agreeing not to buy presents for each other, everyone is in the same boat this year & money is tight. Don’t waste it on things we don’t really need... many of which then end up in the charity shops come January or piled in the loft or shed...
Remember that Christmas is about a lot more than just presents, so no matter how much you do, or don’t, have to spend, remember that spending time with your family doesn’t cost anything, and is the most important part of Christmas anyway.