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It’s November, and Winter is officially here.
We’ve been unusually fortunate with the weather here in the UK, with warm, sunny days continuing right into the end of October.
Now, however, the rain is pouring and it’s not even 10am and it looks like the sun has already set outside.
And all of this only means one thing: Christmas is just around the corner.
I really can’t believe how quickly this year has gone.
Last December, I thought I would be spending Christmas in India, but everything changed within days and I found myself back here in the UK for what was actually a wonderful Christmas spent reunited with my family.
This Christmas, we’re planning on doing the same thing, and inevitably, my mind turns to the ways we could be a little more frugal this year.
Can Christmas Be Frugal and Fun?
The thing is, I love Christmas.
I love the lights and the decorations, I love the giving and receiving of gifts, I love the huge Christmas meal, the family time spent drinking and eating all day, and I love that content, over-stuffed Christmas evening spent watching a cheesy Christmas film surrounded by the people you love.
So as a Christmas lover, I recoil slightly at the thought of cutting down on Christmas celebrations.
I don’t want to agree to give my family no gifts.
I don’t want to have no decorations around the house.
I certainly don’t want to skip out on Christmas lunch!
However, many of us can acknowledge that we may go a little too far at Christmas. There are articles suggesting that the average adult spends up to £1,500 (that’s almost $2,000) every year just on this one holiday.
For most of us, that’s money that could be spent more wisely.
So, I’ve thought long and hard about this.
I don’t want you to lose the magic of Christmas – we only get once a year to indulge in it, after all – but I don’t want anyone going into debt or forking up masses of their savings just for the sake of the day.
Below are some ways you can definitely make Christmas more frugal – while still having all the fun!
How To Have a Fun and Frugal Christmas
1. Cook Christmas Dinner from Scratch
Now is the time that we start to see a huge array of Christmas-themed foods in the supermarkets, from mince pies to more obscure things that have nothing to do with Christmas like Salmon mousses and ‘winter’ vegetable pies.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of buying these treats for Christmas, there is nothing more rewarding than sitting down to a Christmas lunch that you, as a family, have cooked from scratch.
Even in the run-up before Christmas, why not try making your own mince pies and other festive treats, rather than buying them in the supermarket.
It’s more fun, and so much cheaper.
2. Have a Secret Santa With Your Friends
I’m not going to tell you to do a Secret Santa with your family. You can if you want to, but personally, I love picking out gifts that I think my family members will love, and that’s a feature of Christmas I don’t want to compromise on. If it works for your family though, go for it!
When it comes to friends, Christmas can start getting really expensive. Especially if you have the type of friendship group where if you buy for one friend, you have to buy for another friend and so on…
A Secret Santa isn’t a revolutionary new idea, but it can be a fantastic way to cut down on everyone’s Christmas spending without taking the fun away entirely.
In fact, when I was at University, our Secret Santas were great fun and often resulted in some very interesting gifts..!
3. Recycle Your Decorations
Every year it feels like we add more and more Christmas decorations to our collection, only to completely forget about all the wonderful ones we already have stored away in our attic.
The best way to stay frugal on your decorations is to go for timeless pieces that will look great every year. Avoid trends that you won’t like in a couple of years time, like those white fake trees that lit up that were all the rage a few years ago.
Our Christmas tree decorations are mainly sentimental pieces that one of us has selected and we’ve held on to over the years.
Another good tip is to get your decorations out a little earlier this year to take stock of what you have and what you might need to get – avoiding any double or excess purchases!
4. DIY Gifts
Even as I type ‘DIY gifts’, I know someone is imaging something a little bit naff.
However, I’ve made DIY gifts for family members and friends a few times over the years, and if you really put the effort in (and yes, have some creative skills), you can make some really fantastic, thoughtful gifts that can also be a more frugal way to spend your money.
In the past, I’ve made:
– Christmas-infused gin, with cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, clementines, and red berries for decoration
– Indulgent chocolate truffles, made with cacao powder and thick coconut milk
– Soap, that I made, scented, set, and cut myself (that was a lengthy process!)
– A huge, chunky wool blanket that I arm-knitted for my mum (see below)
These were all gifts that I put a lot of time into to make sure they were beautifully made and presented for my family. While they do save you money, you have to be willing to put in your time as the real cost.
5. Avoid Unnecessary Excess
There are some parts of Christmas that are just excessive features that you wouldn’t even miss if they weren’t there. These are the things that you can easily cut from your Christmas budget to save a lot of money without sacrificing on any of the enjoyment.
Unnecessary excess includes:
- Gift wrap accessories such as ribbon, bows, tags etc – in fact, you could use a more environmentally friendly alternative such as reusable gift bags.
- Countless tubs of Christmas chocolates (we’re always too full from Christmas lunch to eat them anyway!)
- Stockings – prioritise gifts of more value, rather than buying stocking fillers that won’t get used
- Crackers – good fun, but not essential if you want to cut your spending
Read Next: 20+ Frugal Living Tips to try this year
The reality is, Christmas can be as frugal as you want to make it.
You could agree with your family only to buy one gift each (or none at all), you could skip out on Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, and you could not buy any decorations.
Of course, if you have children, things get a little trickier.
My best piece of advice would be to decide what’s most important to you and your family. What can’t Christmas be without, for you?
This is a special time of year, so don’t deprive yourself entirely of enjoying the holiday season – just exercise frugal thinking in the aspects of the holiday that doesn’t make a huge difference to your family celebrations.
I hope these tips helped some of you – let me know how you have a frugal Christmas in the comments below!