How To Do Christmas On A Shoestring Budget

By Monday, November 1, 2021 0

They say Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but that’s not always true, is it? If you’re running short on cash or are worried about how you’re going to provide everyone with food, gifts and decorations for the most expensive time of the year, it can cause some serious anxiety. Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon – 35% of women and 23% of men in the U.K. have reported feelings of anxiety during the festive season[i]. Although three in ten people will report feeling anxious and stressed, Christmas anxiety really can feel like a hole you can’t crawl out of. So why not get a little ahead this year?

There are many ways you can still have a very merry Christmas on a budget, and as December looms ever closer, now is the best time to plan how to save money for Christmas. With a bit of creativity, some strong budgeting muscles, and a sprinkling of festive cheer, you’ll be able to have the perfect Christmas without sacrificing your credit card.

How To Budget For Christmas

Creating a budget (and sticking to it) is vital for a successful, inexpensive Christmas. Here are the best steps to take to set up a successful budget:

Analyse Income

Before you start invading the shops, sit down and go over your finances. Knowing precisely what your incomings and outgoings are will help you organise how much you can spend on Christmas essentials and see where you could cut back in other areas to save even more. You could also consider lending money if you fear your income won’t cover the total cost.

Create A-List

Creating a specific list of everything you’ll need will ensure that you don’t forget any essentials and everyone is provided for. Include things like:

  • Gifts
  • Wrapping materials
  • Tree and decorations
  • Food
  • Festive activities

Once you have everything organised on paper, give each category a spending limit – this could be broken down further, per person or meal, for example – and prioritise the list.

Start Early

Shopping for presents late in the season could lead to impulse buying to ensure someone receives a present or your family gets a turkey, which can be seriously detrimental to a budget. So start your Christmas shopping early gives you a better chance of getting precisely what you want within budget and helps you avoid the last-minute rushes.

Hit The Sales

Some shops offer sales in the run-up to Christmas or have offers on bulk buying gifts, and some even start their January sales early. Have a shop around and see what different retailers are offering to see if you can find perfect presents at an excellent price. If you’re planning to buy from specific shops, it may be worth holding back until closer to the big day since sales may pop up to help shift excess stock.

Have a look at food offers early too. If there’s anything you can buy now and freeze or order early and get out of the way, it will save you plenty of stress and money in the long run.

Plan Ahead

Now you’ve got through this year, it’s the best time to plan for the next. Since you’ve set up, and hopefully stuck to, a budget for this Christmas, you can carry this plan over to next year or set up a new one if it wasn’t working for you. Think about what your loved ones may like for next Christmas and keep your eyes peeled through the year since things are likely to be more affordable then, and save things like wrapping paper and gift bags so you can reuse them.

Christmas Savings Schemes

There are several Christmas savings schemes that you can sign up for that will help you budget for Christmas and relieve some of that anxiety. Some of Britain’s favourites are:

Many supermarkets offer similar schemes to Tesco’s Clubcard Savers, so if you have a local rewards card, make sure to check that out. Your bank may also provide Christmas savings schemes.

Save Money On Christmas Dinner

The main occasion of many Christmas days, putting together a Christmas dinner on a budget doesn’t have to be all that difficult. Break it down into courses and be prepared for some culinary magic on your part, and you’ll have a tasty Christmas dinner with a delicious price tag.


Many people skip starters altogether on Christmas – traditional options like salmon can drive up costs in no time. If you’d like one, though, go for light, easy options like a salad or savoury soufflés. Opting to make your own if possible will be much cheaper and even tastier.


Turkeys are expensive, so if only a few of you are sitting around your table this year, chicken is a cheaper option with little difference. If you have a larger group around, try and get more affordable cuts of good meat. Pork belly and lamb shanks are much less expensive but still taste good, and there are plenty of recipes available online to help you use it all up. Alongside this, try simple vegetable sides like mashed potato, parsnips and sprouts to fill up your guests for next to nothing.


After a filling meal, Christmas pudding is likely to be the last thing people want. So break the tradition and go for something light that will fulfil any sweet cravings. Things like Victoria Sponge cake, fruit with cream, poached pears or a roulade will be more affordable and keep you on budget.

Once the big day is over, make sure to use all your leftovers! There are so many recipes for typical Christmas food, so don’t let what you buy go to waste and throw that money down the drain. 

If you’re really struggling to put food on the table over the festive period, charities like Feeding Britain and The Trussell Trust or local foodbanks may be able to lend a hand.

Cheap Christmas Presents

Of course, you want to show your friends and family that you love them, and doing so on a budget is relatively easy with some clever thinking. Make sure you have a spending limit on gifts – this can be per person or overall – since this is where you are likely to go over budget. Here are some cheap Christmas present ideas that anyone will love:

  • Framed Photo
  • Touchscreen Gloves
  • Sweet Jar
  • Candle
  • Reusable Coffee Mug or Water Bottle
  • Card/Board Game
  • Book
  • Subscription
  • Mug Gift Set
  • Socks
  • Bath Bomb Set

Alternatively, you could also make your gifts. Give what you are good at – utilise your artistic talents, culinary skills, D.I.Y. mastery, or gardening expertise to cultivate presents that people will appreciate just that little bit more.

Decorating Your House For Christmas On A Budget

Making your house look festive can have a positive effect on your mood and wellbeing through the Christmas period, and you don’t have to hold back just because you’re saving money. Some good ideas for decorating your house cheaply are:

Sort Out The Tree

For most of us, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without the tree. Opting for smaller trees, such as these slim Christmas trees, means you still get the festive cheer without taking up too much space or money, and you can decorate it easily with decorative fabric scraps, ribbons, pinecones and berries. Wrap a few cardboard boxes as faux presents, and the dreamy image will be complete.

Bring Nature Indoors

Take some inspiration (and maybe some cuttings) from the outside world and make some decorations out of nature. Things like twigs, holly and pine cones can all be used to create table displays or be put together with some imagination and a bit of D.I.Y. to make hanging decorations.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Recycle old watering cans and glass bottles by incorporating them into your Christmas decoration design. Adding lights to glass jars and bottles make an easy yet charming display, and old watering cans make great pots for Christmassy plants.

Hang A Chalkboard

It sounds simple, but hanging a chalkboard can be a festive addition to your décor, and they’re incredibly cheap to buy. Get the kids (or the big kids) to write or draw something Christmassy every day for a lovely, individual spin on the Christmas decoration.

Pin-Up Christmas Cards

Put your Christmas cards up on the wall to instantly boost that festive feeling. You can get cardholders for this, but some blu tack should see you through and allows you to hang your cards in a fun pattern. Also, if you need a tree alternative, pinning up your Christmas cards in the shape of a tree and accentuating the outline with lights can be the perfect seasonal stand-in.

Make Paper Decorations

Origami stars or paper garlands are perfect for Christmas and take very little time or money to put together. There are so many online tutorials for simple paper decorations that look beautiful with little needed from you and your budget.

And… Relax!

Christmas stress is often an unfortunate side effect of the season, but with a wise budget that covers all bases, you’ll soon find that the festive period becomes quite a bit easier. And once everything is wrapped up and accounted for, all that’s left to do is partake in as much Christmas cheer as you can to make up for it!

Do you have any tips for doing Christmas on a budget? Let us know in the comments below.


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