30 Christmas money saving tips to cut costs this festive season

10 min Read Published: 23 Sep 2022

1. Budget

Plan what you can afford to spend on Christmas and try not to rack up lots of debt for just one day of the year. Check out our list of the best budgeting apps in the UK and our guide on how to start budgeting so you can start saving now for this Christmas or the next.

2. Cut down your present list

You don't really need to buy for every single member of your family and all your friends. If you know you're going to struggle to afford something for everyone, see if you can agree to only buy presents for the children (nieces and nephews, children and grandchildren, etc) and you could save yourself lots of time, money and stress.

3. Don't take your children Christmas shopping

Apart from the fact that kids often get bored, taking your children on a shopping trip will simply mean that they will see more 'must-have' presents to add to their list. It can be hard to be firm and not give in to their wishlists, but if you want to stick within your budget you need to keep your present list as short and sweet as you can. Buddy up with family and friends to alternate babysitting duties to allow you all to do your shopping without the kids.

4. Search for the cheapest deals

There are plenty of ways to access the cheapest deals in the run-up to Christmas to cut the cost of your bills. Make use of Black Friday sales towards the end of November, where you can get great discounts on expensive items like tech, and definitely keep a close eye on our Deals page - which is updated every day with the best deals from a range of retailers across the UK - so you can stay up to date with the very best offers out there during the festive season.

5. Hit the pound shops

Obviously, as the name suggests, you can pick up some great bargains in pound shops, but you can also parcel together a number of items to make a more substantial present at little cost (think colouring books, pencils, and craft stuff for younger people). Looking for creative gifts such as colouring books and craft sets can occupy little ones for longer while you are preparing the Christmas dinner, leaving you with more time and space to sort out that all-important turkey - or nut roast!

6. Make your own presents

You can make your own presents at little cost. There are many videos available to show you how on YouTube and Pinterest is also a great place to find ideas on how to get creative. Try making your own homemade exfoliating body scrub using sugar and essential oils, bake festive cookies to hand out in batches, or if you're a keen knitter then this is the perfect opportunity to fashion hats, scarves or throws for family and friends.

7. Buy your presents after Christmas

If you know you're not going to see some people until after Christmas, then why not buy their presents in the post-Christmas sales to save money? January sales are famous for having great deals on everything from food to fashion, so if you're not planning on seeing someone until the New Year, make use of these discounts and get their present while prices are low. Plus, gift wrap and cards are typically much cheaper after Christmas too, so you can even stock up for next year's festive period for a fraction of the price.

8. Don't buy food that won't get eaten

At Christmas, it's tempting to buy masses of food "just in case" somebody might fancy it at some point over Christmas. Many of us have family or friends staying with us, and we often pile coffee tables with stacks of shortbread biscuits and mince pies while we gather around the TV, but we often find that it's difficult to eat all of it - especially when you take into account leftovers from Christmas dinner itself. Try to resist the temptation to buy lots of Christmas snacks, as not only will it save you money, but it will reduce waste too.

9. Make your own decorations and gift tags

Decorations and gift tags can be very expensive, so why not make your own? Get the children involved as they will love the creativity of designing their own gift wrap, and you can decide on your very own theme, giving you more fun and freedom than the generic wrapping paper you find in supermarkets and gift shops. There are lots of videos on YouTube for inspiration and, once again, head on over to Pinterest for more ideas.

10. Use your loyalty points

We probably all collect loyalty points throughout the year, but saving these points up to spend during the run-up to Christmas will have a significant impact on your budget. You could have enough to buy much of your Christmas dinner or a bunch of presents already without even knowing it. Check out our list of the best supermarket loyalty cards to find out how each one works and which gives you the best value for money. As always, it's never too early to start saving up points for next year too.

11. Be a voucher hunter

Be on the lookout for vouchers everywhere - in magazines, newspapers, online, and in stores. Sign up for a voucher site such as VoucherCodes, Groupon or vouchercloud to keep up-to-date with all the best deals out there, and you could find yourself knocking £££s off your Christmas shopping list without even lifting a finger.

12. Do a Secret Santa

Set up a Secret Santa with a group of friends, work colleagues, or even family. This way, you can buy just one gift instead of spending on gifts for everyone. It's also a great excuse to meet up and socialise over a mince pie and glass of wine as you pass presents around. Make sure you agree on a price cap for spending on your Secret Santa, however, such as £10 or £20 - that way everyone spends roughly the same amount and you don't need to feel like you owe someone for spending more on you than you did on them.

13. Start shopping early

Start early and you can pick up the pre-Christmas bargains - particularly on drinks, sweets, and snacks. This will save last-minute panic buying when you inevitably spend too much on food you won't eat. However, make sure you keep a list of presents you've bought, so you don't forget what you've already got, what you need to get, and where you've hidden them from prying eyes. At this time of year, lists are your best friend, helping you stay within a budget and on top of everything else you need to factor in for the big day.

14. Give a personalised gift

A photo of a shared event in a simple frame can make a memorable, but inexpensive present, that is bound to be well-received. There are plenty of websites out there that allow you to personalise gifts, from Not On The High Street to Etsy to Firebox, so shop around and look for the cheapest deals while also making the perfect, custom present for the loved ones in your life.

15. Do a decoration audit

Before you go out and buy more decorations, do a thorough check on what you already have. Your loft is probably full of old decorations that you got bored with or just forgot you had, so see if you can use them again to save buying more, or even check in with friends and family to see if they have any decoration sets that they're looking to get rid of. You could save yourself plenty by kitting your house and your tree out with pre-loved decorations.

16. Don't always buy a new outfit

It can be tempting, but before you give in and buy a brand new outfit for that all-important Christmas do, check out the back of your wardrobe and try on your existing clothes before you go shopping. Don't worry, nobody will realise it's not new, and you've probably got a great outfit hanging out at the back of your wardrobe waiting to be worn that will thank you for another lease of life. This is also a great opportunity to go through your clothing and bag up things you no longer want to donate or sell.

17. Sell unwanted items

Now is the time of the year when everyone is looking for a bargain, so why not sell your unwanted items on an auction site such as eBay to raise some much-needed cash? Or try Facebook Marketplace, where you don't even need to factor in postage fees if you get your buyer to come and pick up what you're selling. Try selling old, unopened toiletry sets from Christmasses past or perhaps a pair of festive pyjamas with a print that you never really liked.

18. Ditch the turkey

There is no written rule that says you must have a turkey at Christmas. Turkeys are expensive, so why not try a cheaper alternative? A large chicken can do the exact same job, and there are many that prefer it to turkey anyway, so this could be a cheap crowd-pleaser if you want to cut some costs. This way you can avoid the price mark-up on turkeys as Christmas approaches, which often sees the birds going for upwards of £50.

19. Buy in bulk

To save cost on food shopping, why not club together with friends and family and bulk-buy at wholesale warehouses like Costco or Makro? These are great places to go to buy food and supplies in the run-up to Christmas, particularly if you know you're going to be hosting a lot of people, as you can buy in huge quantities at a fantastic price. You can stock up on meat and booze for Christmas dinner or household necessities such as laundry detergent and toilet rolls.

20. Share the load and the cost

If you're having friends and family round for a meal, then why not spread the cost by asking them to bring something with them? Maybe a dessert or starter, which will not only save you money but will also make the catering easier. You could ask every guest to bring something, like a Christmas pudding or Christmas crackers, and together you can ensure you have all the trimmings and split the cost between you.

21. Use a cashback credit card

Use a cashback credit card and get money back on whatever you spend over Christmas, but make sure you clear the balance every month. This method isn't for everyone, especially if you have a history of struggling to keep up with payments, but if you can be disciplined and pay it back consistently then a cashback credit card could be useful for putting some extra cash into your Christmas budget. Find out more, and the best on the market, in our list of the best cashback credit cards.

22. Compare supermarket prices online

Use sites such as My Supermarket Compare to find the cheapest prices for all your must-have groceries across a range of supermarkets, so you can shave £££s off your shop by opting for a different store. The money you save on your weekly shop can go towards an extra present or some additional trimmings for the big dinner.

23. Take your own treats to the cinema or pantomime

If you're planning a trip to the cinema or a show over Christmas, make sure you take your own food and treats rather than buying them when you get there. Most of us know by now that the food that you buy there can be extortionate, so simply packing your own chocolate bars, sweets or crackers could save you plenty, so long as you're discreet when you take them into the show and they're not excessively loud like foil crisp packets.

24. Get the best deal on your holiday money

If you're planning on going abroad over the holiday period, then make sure you get the best deal on your money. Find out the best way to take money on holiday with you, and of course, keep an eye on the latest travel restrictions so you don't end up having to cancel your trip.

25. Buy an artificial Christmas tree

Although real Christmas trees look amazing, they are quite expensive, especially when you consider that you have to buy a whole new one every year. If you buy an artificial tree, it will last you for years, and you can make sure you get the perfect size for your room. Plus, there are all sorts of styles, from authentic pines to snow-covered branches to glittery and colourful options. You can pick whichever one suits your home the best and save yourself £50+ every year on buying a brand new one. In addition, some artificial trees come pre-decorated, so you won't even have to shell out for baubles!

26. Take a packed lunch to work

Preparing a packed lunch every day can be time-consuming, but it's well worth the effort if you want to save some money ahead of Christmas. Commit to taking a packed lunch to work in the preceding few weeks and you will be surprised at how much you can save. The extra money can go towards gifts or trimmings, and you'll find you can better control your diet by cooking and preparing your own meals too, rather than opting for those calorific - and expensive - supermarket meal deals.

27. Cancel the cappuccino

If you love your coffee, then the amount you spend on a daily basis can soon mount up, and you can easily spend £50+ on coffees over the course of a month. Pledge to cut out your coffee leading up to Christmas to save money that could go to gifts instead, and put those flasks that have been sitting at the back of the cupboard for years to good use by taking your own hot drinks to work instead for a fraction of the price - and zero waste!

28. Include essentials in your children's presents

Put essentials such as slippers, nightwear, and socks in with your children's presents to save you purchasing them in the New Year. This is a great option not just for you, but for any other family or friends with kids, as they'll appreciate you kitting out their children and saving them some money further down the line. Even essential items such as stationery for school can be a great gift while also cutting costs later on in the year.

29. Get a 0% credit card

If you get a 0% credit card, you can use it to do all your Christmas shopping and pay the balance off after Christmas without paying any interest. However, make sure you do pay off the balance otherwise Christmas will be even more expensive than you first thought. This option is best suited for those who are contentious and certain they can pay off the balance on time. Take a look at our list of the best 0% purchase credit cards if you think this could work for you.

30. Change up all your loose coins

Finally, we all have loose coins lying around in drawers and containers, so why not change them all up and spend the money at Christmas? Many supermarkets have change machines that can quickly count the money for you, and you can free up some space as well as give your Christmas budget a much-needed boost. You could find you have more than £50 in loose change just sitting around the house waiting to be counted!