How to have a cut-price but still extra-special celebration

How to have a cut-price but still extra-special celebration

December 11, 2022

The 12 SAVES of Christmas! From snapping up bargain gifts at a school fair to cracking open bottles of fizz from a budget supermarket… how to have a cut-price but still extra-special celebration

  • Brits will still splash out average of £1,400 per adult on Christmas, study shows
  • Families could struggle this year due to the high cost of gifts, food and energy 
  • Steps including secret santa and choosing own brands could help with costs 

Family festive spirit may be dampened this Christmas due to the high cost of gifts, food, petrol and energy – but there are many ways to have a cut-price but still extra-special celebration.

Brits will still splash out an average of £1,400 per adult on presents, food, drink, travel and decorations, a GlobalData Retail study for vouchercodes.co.uk showed.

But debt booms at Christmas, with increasing numbers putting their spending on credit.

GlobalData Retail analyst Joseph Robinson said: ‘It’s the first family Christmas for some for three years, but people will be making cutbacks, particularly with gift spending, due to higher costs of food and travel.’

Personal finance expert Sarah Coles, of Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘Even if you’ve cut costs and considered changes for tougher times, there is still wiggle room to bring down what you spend on Christmas.

‘Steps include trading down to cheaper food and drink and considering buying fewer presents. It’s worth having a chat with your family to see whether they’d also welcome the chance to set a price limit.’

And there are other ways to save. To help Brits grappling with festive costs, The Mail on Sunday’s Beat the Squeeze campaign brings you the 12 Saves of Christmas.

The gifts that keep on giving

Children love presents, whether they are new or second-hand.

Shop at Christmas fairs at churches, schools and community centres to snap up second-hand deals for a few pounds, or sometimes even pence. And car-boot sales are still a bargain-hunter’s dream. Check out carboot junction.com to find your nearest boot sale.

Shop at Christmas fairs at churches, schools and community centres to snap up second-hand deals for a few pounds, or sometimes even pence

If you are looking for a bike, check out Facebook Marketplace and school parents’ WhatsApp groups to take potentially hundreds of pounds off the cost of buying new.

Second-hand tech products are also a great way to save a fortune on websites including eBay. You can even get free second-hand gifts from sites including freecycle.org.

Grab a sale bargain

Black Friday may have been last month, but that doesn’t mean big savings are finished. 

Retailers are more desperate than ever this December to shift stock, with many high street names slashing prices by 30 to 50 per cent on electronics, toys and jewellery.

Retailers are more desperate than ever this December to shift stock, with many high street names slashing prices by 30 to 50 per cent on electronics, toys and jewellery

 But don’t go over the top – draw up a strict list of purchases to make sure you do not overspend.

Crack the codes 

The moneysavingexpert.com website wraps up the best cut-price codes on its Vouchers section. 

Vouchercodes.co.uk is also an easy one-stop shop where you can bag a code and enjoy a saving.

The moneysavingexpert.com website wraps up the best cut-price codes on its Vouchers section

Chalk up cashbacks 

Click through cashback websites to retailer sites to cash in when cyber-shopping.

Quidco and TopCashback are two big names, typically giving two to five per cent cashback, and consider newbie WeShop, which offers shares in its company worth up to ten per cent of the value of the purchase.

Do a secret santa 

Arranging a price cap on gifts between family, relatives and friends slashes costs. 

Doing a ‘Secret Santa’ is the lowest-budget option of all – and the mystery factor of who bought the present adds to the experience. 

Alternatively, agree to write IOUs for loved ones and friends, agreeing to buy a gift in the post-Christmas sales, when your money will go much further.

Doing a ‘Secret Santa’ is the lowest-budget option of all – and the mystery factor of who bought the present adds to the experience

This is a particular saver for tech products, which often have their prices cut further after December 25.

Cut travel costs

Just because the big day is nearing doesn’t mean all the cheap train tickets have gone. Firms sell advance fares up to minutes before departure. 

Use websites’ cheapest fare finder tools to pinpoint the lowest-priced times of day to travel, often when trains are less crowded. But be careful to avoid rail strike dates!

Use websites’ cheapest fare finder tools to pinpoint the lowest-priced times of day to travel, often when trains are less crowded

Railcards for families, young adults and pensioners cut a third off the cost of travel, meaning you could save the £30 annual fee in one longer return festive trip.

Heading for a long drive? Don’t overpay to fill up on the motorway – check the cheapest garage on your route at petrolprices.com.

And remember the bus: check National Express coach tickets, and for bargains, try uk.megabus.com.

For accommodation, ask family, relatives or friends to put you up. And if you need a hotel, use a price comparison website to secure a cheaper place to stay.

Choose own brands 

A £13 saving can be made on Christmas dinner. Turkey and the trimmings costs £30 at Asda, £32 at Tesco, £35 at Sainsbury’s, £37 at Morrisons and £43 at Waitrose, a Which? survey showed.

Aldi and Lidl also have bargain birds for sale for the big day. And shopping at lower-end supermarkets means other extras including pigs-in-blankets cost less.

Turkey and the trimmings costs £30 at Asda, £32 at Tesco, £35 at Sainsbury’s, £37 at Morrisons and £43 at Waitrose, a Which? survey showed

An easy way to save on general shopping – and it could just be to save money during December – is to change from branded products to supermarket own-brand, or from finest products to value ranges.

The advice at moneysaving expert.com is: ‘Don’t be a retail snob. Taste with your tongue, not by looking at the packaging. And buy what’s right for you, not the shop.’

Cheap, but nice, plonk

Budget supermarket wines have won multiple commendations for their taste compared to pricier versions. 

Knocking £10 a bottle off festive wine is a simple way to save. The advice at vouchercodes.co.uk is: ‘Many overspend on food and drink to try to make Christmas special. 

Budget supermarket wines have won multiple commendations for their taste compared to pricier versions

But check out award-winning alcoholic drinks at Aldi and Lidl for far less than other supermarkets.’

Planning a party? Consider ordering boxes of wine online to save money. Firms still guarantee Christmas delivery.

Claim your points

Billions of pounds are sitting unused on loyalty cards run by retailers – so this is the perfect time to use up those points. Millions have points mountains with Tesco Clubcard, Nectar, Boots and others.

Late decorations 

If you can wait, the prices of Christmas decorations are usually reduced in the run-up to the big day. 

There’s no need to pay £50 for a wreath – make your own with family or friends.

If you can wait, the prices of Christmas decorations are usually reduced in the run-up to the big day

Pine cones, holly and berries look great in your lounge or on your front door. Cut up old Christmas cards to make gift tags – this is a favourite with kids.

Sell unwanted items 

Have a scout around for things that were purchased for last Christmas, or previously, but are not used. Put them on eBay or other websites to sell and boost your spending kitty.

Think of next year 

Bag cheap cards, decorations and even presents for next Christmas from Boxing Day. All decorations are usually half price or less.

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