By Ruth Emery


Cut the Costs of Christmas

Celebrating Christmas during a [cost of living crisis]( will be a new experience for many of us. Just thinking about spending money on festive food, presents and decorations may feel like the “nightmare before Christmas" for those already struggling with stretched budgets.

According to YouGov, as a result of the cost of living crisis, roughly 60% of people say they plan to spend less on Christmas this year than they typically would have in previous years. In line with cutting festive spending, 34% of adults will strip back on social events and gatherings, including meals with family, friends and colleagues, while a further 21% claim to be limiting travelling over the festive period to visit loved ones.

However, if you’re one to enjoy celebrating in style, there are plenty of clever ways to keep costs down, without scrimping on seasonal festivities or luxuries.

We reveal our savvy tips to ensure you don’t bust your Christmas budget or wake up with a debt hangover in January.

Make a list – and check it twice!

The double whammy of high inflation and Christmas shopping means it’s essential you create a budget, and stick to it.

Write a list of everything you need to buy, from presents and decorations to food and booze. Once you see it all down on paper, it’s easier to keep track of exactly what you need and how much you can expect to spend.

If you’re one to get lured in by an extra bottle of wine or two, a shiny new gift for a loved one, or an influx of festive treats and snacks - making a list is sure to rein in your Christmas spending.

Christmas planning list

online Christmas shopping

Shop online and use discount codes

Now it’s time to start reducing the price tag of your Christmas list.

There are loads of online stores with fabulous - but low-cost – decorations and gifts. Even better, if you visit them via Savoo, you’ll get an extra discount plus that warm glow from knowing you’re helping those in need, as Savoo donates to charity whenever you use one of its discount codes (during the six weeks before Christmas, Savoo will donate 10% of its revenue to charity).

Check out Wilko, M&S, Dunelm and independent stores like Coopers of Stortford for great-value decorations. Wilko is also handy for wrapping paper, cards and toys.

Reduce the stress – and cost – of hosting

It is possible to host Christmas on a budget. Don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring a dish and a bottle to relieve some of the stress and costs involved in hosting Christmas.

  • Rather than splashing your cash on wine and spirits, consider setting up a hot chocolate bar with marshmallows, sprinkles and whipped cream so guests can create their own festive drink. A fun and memorable way for everyone to chat and stay toasty, as well as a great way to involve the kids!
  • If it’s an evening event, dig out your candles – a cheap but effective decoration. Pop them in glass jars and decorate with ribbon.
  • Hang up your Christmas cards too; this doesn’t cost a penny but will add to the festive atmosphere.
  • Consider accenting a key place (rather than decorating your entire home), and take photos in front of it for the all-important Insta pics!
  • For tableware, look at ProCook, M&S, Dunelm and Argos for bargains.

Christmas dinner table

Christmas dinner and food

Cut your festive food bill

From chocolate and cereal to bread and meat, average food prices have soared 12% over the past year.

However, there are ways to beat the supermarket squeeze. Start searching for special offers now, as the best Christmas food deals can often be found several weeks (or months) before the big day. But always stick to your shopping list and don’t be tempted to buy something just because it’s on offer. Scan the aisles for discounted “yellow-sticker items" – things like grated cheese, meat and cake can be frozen to use later.

Look beyond your usual supermarket to compare deals (use an app like Trolley to help with this). This includes budget supermarkets like Aldi and Morrisons: as well as low prices, they often rank highly in blind taste tests for products like mince pies and sparkling wine!

For more information on rising supermarket prices and the best ways to cut down on your festive food bill, check out the ‘Food inflation and the rising cost of groceries' section included in our Cost of Living Guide.

Get budget-friendly gifts

We all want to treat our loved ones to a gift they’ll adore when the festive season comes around, but if the budget doesn’t allow for treats all round this Christmas, there are ways to show you care without spending a fortune.

  • If you’ve got a large family to buy for, suggest doing a Secret Santa with a maximum budget per gift - this will keep costs down, and reduce the time spent shopping for presents.
  • Also consider buying “family gifts" like a board-game rather than individual presents.
  • Another tip is to choose only pre-loved items; great for your wallet and the planet. Browse charity shops, eBay or apps like Vinted or Olio for bargains.
  • A home-made voucher can also be a thoughtful gesture (and cost you zero); think a massage for your partner, or a night’s babysitting for a friend with kids.
  • If buying brand-new, check your loyalty cards to see if you can cash in points to offset the cost.
  • Don’t forget to factor in the cost of delivery. It could be smarter to buy several items from one retailer to save on delivery fees.
Christmas gifts and presents

While, for many, Christmas will undoubtedly fall under tighter restraints this year, cutting the cost of Christmas doesn’t have to diminish the magic that comes with the festive period. Follow the tips & tricks from our money-saving experts featured in the main Cost of Living Guide to budget on everything from utilities, household expenses, lifestyle costs, and more before the big day arrives.