Top tips for reducing the cost of Christmas
Can you believe that it’s still July, the heart of winter, and people are already talking about the rapidly-shrinking number of days left until Christmas! Since when was 150 days until Christmas a cause for concern, or even talked about!
This conversation does, however, provide an opportunity to engage in a very worthwhile endeavour: planning how to make Christmas as affordable as possible – making every dollar go as far as it possibly can in the ever-looming Christmas shopping quest.
The first thing to is to make a budget and try to stick to it as best as you can. If you start planning now, you have the greatest advantage in your favour: time. Even if your budget reveals that you can only save modest amounts each payday, you still have a full 21 weeks left to work with.
Create a list of all the various items and assign costs. Stay flexible, unexpected savings for one item means the ability to reallocate to another. Carefully planned shopping trips help to reduce blowing your budget, so don’t leave everything to panic purchases at the last minute. Online research also helps to get the best value for money through price comparison.
While we’d love to have a bottomless piggy bank for presents for the family, reality is that money doesn’t go as far as it did when we were children. Times are much tighter, but the good news is that there are ways to reduce xmas costs.
Christmas presents needn’t break the bank. The internet is a fabulous resource for finding ideas on great DIY craft-based presents that will be sure to delight, rather than disappoint. Whether it’s home-baking presented in tastefully-decorated jars, or donning the tools and drawing on those long-dormant wood working skills from high school to create a masterpiece, there are thousands of great craft projects to help save cash on Christmas gifts (you must visit www.pinterest.nz if you haven’t already). Presents with sentimental value are always gratefully received, like a favourite photograph in a a nice picture frame, or a journal or notebook with a personal note.
As with presents, Christmas decorations can also be either lovingly restored (the broken ones in the bottom of the box) or made from scratch, a fun activity for the kids who can personalise their own creations with their name and the year – something to look back on fondly when they are older. Reusing decorations year after year then becomes a fun time for the whole family, rather than just an exercise in being cheapskate scrooges!
Food needn’t be a financial drain either, simple but popular recipes will always be crowd-pleasers – resist the pressure to create the kind of lavish, overly-ambitious spread you’d only see on the front of a Christmas card. If Christmas day food has always been an enormous source of stress for you, how about just cranking up the BBQ this year?
An inspired way to further reduce present costs and greatly simplify the whole shopping process is by trying a Secret Santa for your family. Everyone puts their names in a hat and only buys a gift for the person they pull out. Each person spends a bit more on that person than they normally would, but this cost is mitigated by the fact that only one gift is required.
Our final advice for reducing the costs of Christmas is, plan for next year. That’s right, it might sound far too boring and sensible, but the earlier you start putting money aside, the greater your Christmas cheer will be, trust us!
by Ash Horton
July 28, 2019