Here are some ideas to cut down what you spend this year on Christmas. It’s not worth getting into more debt for one day which will make all of 2019 much harder for you.
With just over a month to go this is a good time to be starting to plan. Finding ideas for cheap presents in mid-December can be too late to get them delivered in time – even Amazon Prime’s one-day delivery often lets you down in the week before Christmas.
Presents for your children
I’ve asked a group of friends what big hits they have had with inexpensive presents:
- any age a new duvet cover
- any age get a poster, from kittens to cocktails via pop groups and dinosaurs;
- any age stickers for their bedroom wall, doors or furniture:These don’t have to be cute…
- Under two? Several inflated balloons in a large box!
- 2-5 ping-pong balls – you will not believe how long toddlers can enjoying dropping these down the stairs…
- 3-5 create a craft kit by dyeing pasta several different colours and put them in a box with string and glue. Or make these Christmassy-melted crayons.
- 4-10 a really huge set of felt-tip pens or pencils; also other arty-crafty things such as paper, notepads, letter and number stencils.
- 4-10 hex bugs;
- 4-10 Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story Fifteen stories and recipes for children to help with from the Bake Off winner.
- 5-10 a big jigsaw puzzle for the holidays
- 7-11 Don’t Eat This Book fun activities for kids who aren’t yet keen on reading;
- 8-12 Create Your Own Happy book;
- 8-adult Fanciful Faces Coloring Book for someone who loves colouring it could keep them occupied for weeks. Look for the right subject: cats, owls, steampunk etc ;
- 10+ a diary with a little lock on it;
- teens – T shirt with the right message on it, cute, funny, cross, gaming, action etc
- teens – a bundle of second-hand DVDs from eBay;
- teens – “Wreck this Journal” – very silly and amusing tasks;
- 17-21 “Nosh for Students – A Fun Student Cookbook“
Groupon often has toy offers (but you will get bombarded with offers from them so it could prove expensive unless you are strong-willed!) Don’t forget to check freecycle / freegle for larger toys such as trampolines or bikes.
Make sure stockings for the kids have a lot of the things are useful as well as some fun stuff: a new toothbrush, pair of socks, pair of pants, small bubble bath or shower gel.
Add some cheap things to eat: chocolate coins and a satsuma as well.
Adult stationery things such as post-it notes, packet of blu-tac, sellotape, highlighters are good additions for the over tens.
Cut down on adult presents
Choosing presents for children can be fun, but buying things for adults often isn’t.
You try to guess if your sister would like a new cosmetics bag or a bonsai tree growing kit, whilst she thinks if you want a cushion that glows in the dark or a jumper with a slogan about gin. You don’t really want either – and neither does she!
Why not phone your brothers, sisters and parents up and agree no presents this year? Or set a maximum amount of £10? If it’s too late to do it this year (yes, your sister always buys her presents months early…) do it next year.
Think about home-made presents. The following don’t require advanced cookery or craft skills:
- Nutella fudge – it takes only 5 minutes to make. Get your teens to make these.
- this citrus vodka only needs a couple of weeks to mature and you can use cheap supermarket basic spirits.
- flavoured olive is easy to make and perfect for any friends who like food or cooking;
- Cranberry, ginger and orange chutney – it’s fine to make just a week before Xmas but it will keep for months;
- make a scrabble tile picture, arranging family and pet names, road names, town etc and framing them – look on Etsy for inspiration for what you can make yourself. Tiles are usually on sale on eBay cheaply, wooden ones can look good.
- make a collage from photographs of your children and frame it – perfect for the grandparents.
- make a “book safe” from an old hardback book, see this video for instructions
- make a personalised poster and print it off – this site has Xmas tradition examples but the topic could be gardening or football or cocktails etc.
Tell people what your children need
Family members often love to be told what your kids would really like. Left to themselves they may get something that is the wrong age, colour (not all little girls love pink!) or just isn’t really right.
So tell them what your kids need. It will make their life easy, your kids will smile when they unwrap the present and also cut your own costs in 2019 – So everyone will be happy!
- pyjamas, dressing gowns, slippers, jumpers, sweatshirts – anything fun, warm and snuggly can seem like a good Xmas present. For all of these, be clear about sizes and where to get them: ” Badger pyjamas, aged 4-5″.
- outdoor stuff such as wellies, football boots (next size up?), balls, frisbee, tennis racket etc. Scooters and bikes if their budget permits!
Cards and decorations
IKEA is running its annual Christmas tree offer – £25 for a 6 foot real one and you get a £20 off voucher to spend – the snag is it has to be spent between 14th January 2019 and 3rd March 2019. I guess quite a lot of these vouchers don’t get spent.
If you like crafts, there are lots of ideas on YouTube and Pinterest for making Christmas cards and decorations for the tree or to hang up. Try these:
- Christmas Decorations to Cut, Fold & Stick is a book with printed sheets and instructions
- dancing elf from newspaper
- paper snowflake decorations
- button Xmas cards
- paint colour Xmas cards
- paint stamp Xmas cards.
If you have a child (or your inner child?) who likes making things, this Usborne book has on how to cut, fold and stick them into decorations. 5-7s will need some help but 8+ can probably manage on their own.
It’s only for a day or two – the shops aren’t closed for a week!
- does everyone like an iced fruitcake? Most children and lots of adults would prefer a chocolate log;
- make your own cranberry sauce. This makes a nice present for other people as well!
- ditch the big production roast turkey for a curry (great if you have a vegetarian to feed), or a Mexican feast, or lasagna.
- save up your Nectar or Clubcard points all year and use them for the Xmas shop
- make sure you plan to use all the leftovers.
Create your own traditions!
Invent some new – and inexpensive! – family traditions:
- a set of Xmas songs to play whilst cooking or making crafty things with the kids;
- instead of individual Christmas Eve boxes (yet another marketing ploy to make you spend more) get a something for all the family: a Christmas jigsaw or a new game – 5 Second Rule (noisy!) Labyrinth – The Moving Maze Game (2-4 players), Scotland Yard – The Hunt for Mr X (3-6 players);
- have hot sausage rolls and a drink before opening presents on Christmas Day morning;
- candles or tea-lights make any room seem special for small children – and quite a few adults :)
All they want for Christmas is you…
Spending time together doing things is what your children will remember, not what presents they got. The year they made the snowman decorations, or cooked Nutella fudge to give to the grandparents.
This post is updated with new ideas and links every year.