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Home & Garden

Top Tips For Christmas Shopping on a Budget

© Heidi Sandstrom / Unsplash

At this expensive time of the year, one of the biggest culprits will be your present shopping list. Shopping for gifts can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of the season, but for some it is also a stressful time.

Few of us can afford to run amok at Christmas, so finding a spend level within your means is important.

It is too easy to get carried away by all the seasonal temptations, but resist flexing your credit or store card too much. You want to greet the following year full of expectation and with a positive mindset, not facing debt.

Start early

Heidi Sandstrom

Starting early is the way forward. While there are benefits to one large, blowout shopping session you will need stamina – and the resources to fund it.

Making purchases as you find suitable items over several weeks will take less of a toll on your feet and your purse. Some even people buy gifts throughout the year!

Make a list

Create a spreadsheet listing of everyone you need to buy for. This can be easily modified as you go along and you can re-save it for use in future years, too.

Add a column to allow you to tick off gifts as they are bought. Against each entry, note gift ideas or status updates such as “due to arrive w/c Nov 27”.

Feeling super-organised? Create additional columns for “wrapped” and “dispatched” so you really have an instant view of where you’re at!

Create a budget


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Making a budget and sticking to it is the sound advice of experts every year. Adding a “budget” column in your itemised checklists for food, gift shopping etc is all important.

Create a budget checklist in spreadsheet form so you have an at-a-glance total. Add in columns for the weeks between now and Christmas. Divide your budget across them, either equally or weighted towards weeks when you have money coming in.

If the weekly budgets and the grand total are not manageable, be ruthless and reduce them. As you tick items off your lists, add a column headed “actual spend” to highlight any savings or overspends.

Redeem coupons, loyalty points and
reward vouchers

Whether shopping online or in store, redeem coupons, loyalty points and reward vouchers.

If you don’t have a promotional or discount code when you’re about to complete your online shop, search for the retailer name plus the word “code” – you might find a current code which will save you a few pounds.

Voucher Codes and Money Saving Expert are handy, as are cash back sites like Quidco.

Buy smart!

Make use of multi-buys and promotions in store or online, even if it means purchasing things early and squirrelling them away.

Stores are offering more incentives than ever so make the most of the bargains out there. Sales are the perfect opportunity to seek out cards, paper and tags at a bargain price. 

Remember cards and thank you notes

You can also create a list for your cards and tick off as you send your cards out. Be realistic about this list and prune it if necessary.

Don’t forget to add a column for your thank you notes after the big day!

Avoid postage costs

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If the recipient of this year’s cards also has a present you can save on postage by giving them both in person together. No need to buy stamps!

Prepare for unexpected gifts in advance

Stash away a couple of tins of nice biscuits, boxes of chocolates or bottles of fizz in a gift bag, just in case you need to provide a gift unexpectedly. Put some blank gift tags with them, so the recipients are none the wiser!

Discount days


Make the most of discount days such as Black Friday (Nov 24) and Cyber Monday (Nov 27). It can be the perfect opportunity to snap up a rare bargain without leaving the comfort of your home.

Shop online



Shop online, and you’ll be able to investigate ideas and compare prices from the comfort of your sofa. The internet makes it easier than ever to shop around, and online shopping gives you more protection under the Consumer Rights Act.

Shopping online will save you time and avoid travel and parking costs, plus all additional spends you might just weaken to while you’re surrounded by lots of temptations in the shops.

Orders over a certain level may well avoid any delivery charges at all – and if you can combine an order with someone else, even next-day delivery costs can be halved, representing a significant saving to your purse.

Make it a date

shopping friends


Prefer to visit the shops? Then make a shopping date with a friend. Share ideas, split multi-buys to save money and soak up the festive atmosphere together.

Secret santa system

Speaking of friends, set up a Secret Santa system for present buying among a group of pals or colleagues. All participants can buy a gift to an agreed value, then take a lucky dip on the nominated day.

Choose own brand


Remember: not everything you buy has to be big brand purchases. Some own brands can be every bit as good so be sure to compare products. Review online can give you an idea about quality for the price.

Consider experience days


If you’re stuck for gift ideas, there’s no need to spend hours pounding the high street pavement or trawling the web for inspiration.

Visit the website of a company offering experience gifts, such as Buy a Gift or Red Letter Days.

Whatever your recipient’s interest – sports, pampering, art, theatre, food and drink – you’ll find an activity that suits them, at a price point that suits you.

Get crafty!

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Give a craft kit as a Christmas present and you’ll tick off gift and entertainment in one fell swoop!  Extra bonus points if you match it to your recipient’s interests.

Craft kits needn’t just be scraps of fabric and pegs. Have you considered a gin making kit, for example?

Support a cause you care about!

donate baloons

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Charity gift departments have some fantastic, quality products for you to consider, plus wrap, cards and more.

Or shop online via Easy Fundraising, making your purchases via the retail links provided. Donations up to 15% of the value of your purchase will be made to your nominated charity, at no extra cost to you.

Thousands of different retailers participate in the scheme, including major names such as Amazon and John Lewis.

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From, Your Best Ever Christmas