How to Have a Merry Christmas on a Tight Budget

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the shop windows are full of decorated trees and fancy chocolates, the turkeys are hanging from the butcher’s windows, and no one will stop talking about the big day itself. When you are on a tight budget, Christmas can lose its holiday cheer and begin to seem like a chore that will leave you strapped for cash into the new year. It does not have to be this way, however. With a few money-saving tricks, you can relax with a glass of wine in the knowledge that you’ll still have extra cash past December 25th.


Although it might be tempting to go all out, do not get wrapped up in spontaneous purchases that are not necessary for your Christmas cheer. Instead, decide on a budget before you even leave the house. From crackers to the turkey to the gifts themselves, make a list of all your expenditure over the holiday period and budget accordingly. Doing so will leave you with no nasty surprises when the January bills come through the post. Budgeting will stop you from panicking at the last minute and spending much more than you first intended to. There are also many free budget calculators online that will help you to budget by breaking down the costs of presents, Christmas dinner, travel, and decorations. Doing this will help you to be firm with yourself, stopping you from buying your relative an expensive designer handbag that they could do without. Make sure that you take your list with you when you shop, however, or even keep it in your bag for those occasional moments of window shopping. Checking it regularly will stop you finding a perfect present before deciding whether you can afford it even while in the throes of holiday generosity. You can read more about sticking to a gift budget online.

Memories, not Materialism

The most important aspect of Christmas though should not be your expenditure. The extra shiny box under the tree or the extravagant turkey will not make your Christmas any happier. Rather than waste money on items you will regret once the day is over, focus on making memories with family and friends. Take relatives for fun experiences to get into the Christmas spirit rather than buying presents. A play or an inexpensive meal out will ensure that you keep costs down while making memories with the people that you care about most. Many local towns also hold free Christmas events at this time of year. From light switch-on to markets, find out what is in your local area and give back to your community. If you are worried about your family wanting to give gifts, hold a discussion with them about the Christmas period in advance and decide whether you will be buying presents for everyone or only children, for example, and suggest everyone bring their own platter of food to bulk up supplies on the day. It will save anyone embarrassment on Christmas day while still ensuring that everyone has an enjoyable holiday period.

The Food Shop

The food shop is one of the most costly elements of Christmas, especially for those with large families. If the thought of that pre-Christmas food bill is making you panic, spread the cost of food by buying in advance. Buying easy-to-freeze and non-perishable items will enable you to keep food for a longer amount of time, allowing you to buy early and ensuring that nothing goes out of date in the lead up to the big day. Additionally, buy only what you need. Avoid the chaos of the last few days before Christmas by buying with weeks to spare. Doing so will mean that you only buy what you need, leaving no extra food in your cupboards on the day. You can save even further by knowing how many people are coming in advance. Getting people to RSVP early will ensure that you are not buying for people that will not even be there. You could also spread the cost between families, splitting the food into categories such as vegetables and meat. It is a great way to even out the expense of Christmas and ensure that it is fair for everyone.

DIY Decorations

While shops like to bump up the cost of an extra bauble or a string of lights in the run-up to Christmas, there is no need to invest a lot in décor. While some houses have sprawling gardens full of Santa and reindeer, if you are on a budget, there are lots of other ways that you can decorate your home. Many online blogs explain how to make their favorite DIY decorations, and you do not have to be particularly crafty to make most of these, with ideas ranging from a bit of glue and felt to crocheting a menagerie of woodland beasts. To expand the Christmas cheer, invite family or friends round for a decoration making event over a cup of tea or coffee. This will both get everyone into the Christmas spirit and ensure that you have enough decorations to fill the whole house. Children love this kind of activity too and making DIY decorations is a great activity to keep them occupied during the long Christmas break. If you would like to increase the magic for the kids, then there are many recipes for enchantment available on the internet, a particular favorite being Santa’s footprints.

The perfect Christmas does not have to mean scraping the bottom of your wallet. Doing everything yourself can be more fun and collaborative than buying items from the shops, creating a simple and effective way of getting everyone into the Christmas spirit. Forgetting presents and expenses will also ensure that you enjoy Christmas without the stress of finding the right gift within the budget of a quickly diminishing bank account. After all, this is what the true Christmas spirit is about: focusing on making Christmas memories rather than how much they cost.