Cheap Christmas Cheer

I have recently written two articles on budget Christmas celebrations, which can be leaner and greener. You can read the latest here. I hope I have proved that you don't have to be a Scrooge to save!

On several forums (or should I say fora), this is being discussed in earnest, so here are some tips I have gathered while lurking around. Many come for the great NCT group for editors.

Here they are:
  • Save on Christmas presents. Go for a Secret Santa or a ‘present grab'. Secret Santa is an American tradition where each person buys and wraps just one gift, giving it anonymously. In some workplaces names are put in a hat and individuals pick one without revealing who they are giving the present to. One word of caution, make sure that all the names are correct and in the hat, I once took part in a similar initiative for a birthday and a child ended up with two presents, while one went without. Things were eventually rectified but it did spoil the secrecy of the scheme. Present grab is apparently a Swedish tradition  and involves just one gift per person, but the gifts go on display (still wrapped). You select one in turn. However, anyone can choose to grab someone else’s gift if they prefer, as long as everybody ends up with only one! Hard to do with kids as it might trigger tantrums, but fun for adults! 
  • Make your own gifts for relatives and encourage your children to do the same: grow plants from seeds, decorate boxes, make jewellery with kits, bake cookies, etc.
  • Get some things for free: swap things with friends, clothes, accessories and toys (with your children’s permission). Check on Freecycle for free stuff and on swap forums.
  • Give a little money to charity or buy a charity gift. It seems hard if you are on a budget to give money away, but a small amount may be cheaper than buying lots of expensive gifts that aren’t needed.
  • Make the most of stockings: fill with cheap and cheerful items. Charity shops are really good for this, many sell new items, so you're doing a good deed too.
  • Find free fun things to do such as go to a nativity play, church or  community activity. Festivals of trees are very popular and they are great fun for kids.
  • Share a meal with family or friends, this is cheaper than hosting a party or paying for a whole meal and it's fun, too.
  • Deck your halls with love not cash! Get your kids to help making decorations and cards.
  • Get a small Christmas tree in a pot so you can use it year after year.
  • Save money on postage by sending free email cards or email out a message with a photo. This can save the planet as well as your cash!
  • Mix glitter with porridge oats and give it to the children to sprinkle in the garden, after dark, on Christmas Eve. This is to encourage Santa's reindeers to stop and not for the kids to eat. Find your own family traditions that don’t cost anything and enjoy them.

Pick up more saving top tips from www.christmasonabudget.co.uk

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