Tuesday, September 29, 2015

5 Easy Ways to Save Money on Christmas

Do you always spend more than you intended to on Christmas? If so, you're not alone! Here are five easy ways to save money on Christmas.

Start Shopping for Christmas Gifts as Early as Possible

Don't wait until December to start your Christmas gift shopping. By then, all the good quality, reasonably-priced products will have been sold and the stores will be filled with expensive, over-priced gifts.

If possible, shop for Christmas gifts throughout the year. Whenever you see a great gift for someone you love, purchase it immediately, if funds allow. At home, wrap it up, add a gift tag and put it in a dedicated cupboard or 'hiding place'.

If you haven't yet started Christmas gift shopping this year, start now! There are still many sales and good deals to be found in October and early November.

Spread the Cost of Food and Drink

The last grocery shop before Christmas is always expensive. In order to reduce its cost, start buying 2 or 3 extra non-perishable items each week. Store them in a separate cupboard and, by the time Christmas rolls around, all you'll need to shop for are meat, vegetables and other fresh items.

Just think - there are 12 weeks from now until Christmas week. If you added just 2 extra items for Christmas to each of your weekly grocery shops, you'd have 24 items ready for Christmas. If each item costs £2 on average, your final Christmas shop would be reduced by £48!

Make Use of What You Already Have

Most of us have lots of Christmas items tucked away in the loft, attic, garage or other storage places. However, instead of getting these items out and deciding what we can re-use this year, it's all too easy to just buy new.

Challenge yourself to find all the Christmas-related items you have in your home and see how many you can use this year. Don't buy anything new until you're convinced that you haven't already got a similar item hiding somewhere in your home!

You might also have food and drink that you can use at Christmas. Look through your kitchen cupboards and freezer to see what you can find. 

Make Things For Christmas

You can make many things for Christmas yourself, including decorations, Christmas cards, gift tags and wrapping paper.

You can even make some Christmas presents yourself. You don't have to be very good at making things to create unique personalized gifts. Some ideas are given in the Spend Less, Enjoy Christmas More eBook.

If you enjoy baking, you can make a Christmas cake, Christmas biscuits (cookies), gingerbread, mince pies and many other Christmas treats.

Send Christmas e-cards

Christmas e-cards have become an increasingly popular alternative to sending traditional Christmas cards through the post in recent years. Consider sending Christmas e-cards to at least some of the people on your Christmas card list.

You'll save money on Christmas cards and stamps and the environment will benefit (even recycling Christmas cards uses a lot of energy).  You also won't need to stress about last posting dates because you can send an e-card to anyone in the world as late as Christmas Eve!

Christmas doesn't have to be incredibly expensive! Do you have a favourite way of reducing the cost of Christmas?


Monday, September 14, 2015

A Way of Christmas Gift Shopping Throughout the Year

Buy each person on your Christmas present list an extra present when you buy them a birthday present. This is one way of doing your Christmas shopping throughout the year without really noticing it.

If you're already looking for gifts for a certain person, you're likely to find at least 2 or 3 things they'd like. Instead of buying just one for their birthday, why not buy two gifts, give one for their birthday and save the other one for Christmas?

The advantages of doing this are:

  • It spreads the cost of Christmas shopping over the whole year.
  • A better selection of products are usually available outside the Christmas rush period when lots of things have sold out.
  • You can buy presents in sales that are held throughout the year. 
  • It saves time - you only shop for presents for each person once during the year.
 The disadvantages I can think of are:

  • It's not possible to do this for your children because they usually receive a number of gifts on both their birthdays and at Christmas (!)
  • If you're shopping for a particular person's birthday gift in a month when you're short of cash, your budget probably won't stretch to buying another present. However, you could always look for a gift they'd like and buy it as soon as your funds allow.
  • If you know a lot of people with birthdays in the same month, it might not be financially viable to buy them all 2 presents.
I can't remember where I first heard this way of getting most, if not all, of your Christmas gift shopping done before December rolls around but I do think it's a good idea. I don't always buy extra birthday presents and save them for Christmas but sometimes I do. If I do, I'm always glad that I have because it saves time and money in the run-up to Christmas.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Starting Christmas Gift Shopping in September!

I have a confession to make. Although in my ebook I advocate starting to shop for Christmas presents as early in the year as possible (perhaps even in January), I don't usually start buying Christmas gifts until October.

This year, it's different! I saw a book that I know my daughter would love and bought it today! So, I've turned over a new leaf and started my Christmas gift shopping in September!

As an added bonus, the book was reduced from £7.99 to £4, so I saved £3.99. That definitely wouldn't be possible nearer Christmas when all the prices are high. There are quite a few sales on at the moment, so it's a good time to look around and buy more Christmas presents.

If I bought one or two more presents a week starting today, I could finish my Christmas gift shopping by November! Then, I'd have more time for baking and other Christmas preparations.

How about you? When do you start shopping for Christmas gifts? Do you spread the cost over several months? 

Monday, September 7, 2015

5 Reasons to Make Your Own Christmas Gift Tags

Here are 5 reasons why you should make your own Christmas gift tags:

  • It's easy! The whole family can join in! Someone can cut out images from old Christmas cards, someone else can punch holes and a third person can thread through ribbons. You could set up your own production line!
  • It's free - if you use materials you already have.
  • It's environment-friendly. Even if you send your old Christmas cards for recycling, energy will still be used to convert them into new paper products.
  • It saves money - you won't need to buy packs of gift tags this Christmas.
  • It's fun! It allows you to spend quality time together as a family. It's a creative and relaxing activity that keeps your children away from their screens! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Starting Christmas Preparations in August!

Re-Use Old Christmas Cards - Make Them Into Gift Tags

When do you begin preparing for Christmas? I usually do one or two small things in August. Some years I make a few Christmas cards. This year I spent a rainy August afternoon making a collection of gift tags from old Christmas cards. They were simple and enjoyable to make.

You'll need:

  • Christmas cards that you received in previous years and would normally recycle
  • A hole punch
  • Ribbon, thread, wool, etc in a variety of colours
  • Scissors
  1. Look at each card and cut out one or more images that would be suitable for a gift tag. You could, for example, choose an image of a Christmas tree; an inscription such as "Season's Greetings" or anything else that takes your fancy. Ensure the back of each image is blank, so that you'll be able to write a message.
  2. Once you have a stack of cut-out images, punch a hole in the top of each one using a hole punch.
  3. Choose ribbon, thread or wool in a colour that goes well with the gift tag image. 
  4. Cut off a length of ribbon or thread. Fold it in half, forming a loop in the middle.
  5. Thread the loop through the hole in the top of the gift tag. Pull both ends of the ribbon or thread through the loop. 
  6. Pull to secure the ribbon or thread to the gift tag. 
It's as easy as that! Do you make your own Christmas gift tags? If so, do you recycle old Christmas cards or do you use another method?
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