Christmas may be looking quite different this year for many of us, but there are still many ways to share the festive spirit and treat our loved ones – albeit from a safe distance. 

Whilst it’s tempting to go all-out, you don’t necessarily need to spend a sack-load at Christmas. Last year, the average family expected to spend £725 on Christmas* factoring in presents, food and decorations – but by planning ahead, you could keep the costs as low as possible.

This guide covers everything from budgeting for the big day to saving money on gifts whilst still creating a magical experience. Grab a mince pie (it’s never too early) and let’s get started…

  1. Start early 

Whether it’s saving a small amount each month or making, baking or crafting some presents in advance, it’s never too early to start planning. The sooner you start, the more time and opportunities you’ll have to budget and spread the cost.

  1. Set a budget 

Decide how much you can afford to spend on Christmas this year, then stick to that amount. A free budgeting tool such as The Budget Planner at moneysavingexpert.com is a great place to start – you can assess your overall financial situation and plan accordingly.

  1. Make a list and check it twice…

Grab a pen and paper and note down everyone you have to buy for. This is a great time to take advice from money saving expert Martin Lewis and ‘ban unnecessary Christmas presents’ – read his blog post and watch his short video on why, which went viral with 19,000 Facebook comments.

  1. Save, don’t splurge

Next year why not put a small amount of money aside from January? You could pop it in a savings account or try a supermarket saving stamp scheme which allows you to save throughout the year then collect a 6% bonus from the store. Remember that the cash must be spent at the supermarket you’re collecting the bonus from, so your options might be limited.

  1. Create Christmas magic for kids (without spending) 

Most Christmas memories don’t centre around the table decorations, expensive food or even the perfect presents. For many children, the build-up to the big day is the most exciting thing – counting down the days, making cards or snuggling on the sofa with a Christmas movie. If you’re looking for inspiration, moneysavingexpert.com have a lovely blog post focused on Free Christmas Magic – it’s a great place to start.

  1. Consider a charity gift

Want to give something different or more meaningful this year? How about a charity gift card to support a cause that’s important to you – or the recipient. Charity gifts start from five pounds and could cover something life-changing such as clean water, school supplies, vaccines or livestock.

  1. Get crafty

A home-made present is the perfect way to show your friends and family how much you care about them, without having to spend a fortune. If you’re a star baker, how about whipping up a batch of gingerbread biscuits or even miniature Christmas spiced gin for a gift? If you’re crafty, a knitted scarf or hand-made keychain could be the perfect present. For those of you with kids, a hand-drawn portrait, salt-dough ornament or glittery Christmas card could mean the world to someone special.

  1. Find the best deals around

We love to shop local but if you’re looking for a specific item on the high street then you could try using a price comparison site to find the best value for items such as electronics or games. Google Shopping is a great place to start as it compares other big sites for you – useful when you’re sticking to a budget.

  1. Drop the Big Shop

It’s tempting to get caught-up in the food shopping frenzy and limited-time ‘deals’ around Christmas – but how about if you viewed it as just another day? It’s lovely to celebrate in your own way but there’s no need to over-buy on fancy food that could go to waste. 

Instead, try stocking up on tinned and frozen food such as frozen parsnips and peas, which taste just as good as the ‘real thing’ and plan ahead to avoid that last-minute supermarket dash.

  1. Don’t forget to talk 

Christmas can be a difficult time for many people, for many different reasons. If you’re a Cumberland customer and concerned about your financial situation then please get in touch with us – the sooner we understand your situation, the more ways we may be able to help you.

Alternatively, if you’re feeling worried or under stress, how about chatting to Mind? Their helpline is a good place to get help and advice, whenever you feel like you’re struggling.

**Looking for some inspiration? Check out our ultimate early Cumbrian gift guide for lovely, hand-crafted gifts starting at just a few pounds #ShopLocal #CraftyCumbria

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