When it comes to this time of year I often hear people describe the festive season as hectic, expensive, tiring and stressful. It really doesn’t need to be that way…
Wrapping paper – this can get expensive, particularly if you have many people to buy for. This year, ditch the ribbons, bows and matching gift bags and replace them with... brown parcel paper. Children (even the older ones who are too cool to admit it) love helping with Christmas themed activities. Have them decorate the paper using stickers, stamps and such-like , or for more cost effective decoration go with metallic pens which you can pick up for a very reasonable price at pound shops and similar.
Everyone cooks. When having people over for Christmas dinner or a festive occasion, split the cooking. Be it a buffet or the “full monty”; if everyone brings a dish it really helps to keep the costs down and saves a lot of preparation for the host.
Homemade can be expensive. Making homemade hampers / similar up makes wonderfully personal gifts but can often be more expensive than a conventional gift. The benefits of hampers (etc) is that you can pick things up as you go along and spread the cost but do keep an eye on what you are actually spending or run the risk of blowing your Christmas budget.
Cut the cards – No, not the credit cards (although that might not be a bad idea!), but the Christmas cards. Nowadays the majority of people are online regularly and you can find some beautiful interactive e-cards that are free to send. Save yourself money on buying cards, postage and the time and effort you use writing them out, as well as all those trees! This is a great way to cut costs but don’t forget those who aren’t internet savvy, a Christmas card and news-filled letter can mean so much.
Create your own traditions – There is no “wrong” way to do Christmas. Work the season how you want to! Create your own traditions, it doesn’t matter if they are silly or tender ones, it’s the personal moments over Christmas that make it all work.
Brand down - Red wine, white wine, sherry for Aunt Maud, whisky for Dad and Uncle Arthur, Baileys for the cousins..... it soon adds up. Instead of spending a fortune on alcohol over Christmas buy a cheaper brand, after all, it’s just a drink! If you think you can get away with it, suggest everyone brings a bottle, even better!
Consider whether you need that huge tin of branded wrapped chocolates on the side, would it matter if they were a cheaper brand? Tip the sweets into a nice bowl and it doesn’t matter. Will anyone notice whether you have bought top brand mayonnaise for the buffet or whether you have bought premium mince pies or supermarket ones? Usually not, I suspect that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to “keep up” with others and at the end of the day, no-one knows but ourselves!
Take a step back this year and think about what you can do to make life a big easier and cheaper so that everyone can enjoy a stress free Christmas.
Nicki Cawood, Freelance writer and blogger at Curly&Candid