Have a Very Thrifty Christmas!

Christmas is fast approaching and it’s the priciest time of the year for most, with the average UK household spending £753 on festivities. Following these money-saving tips won’t guarantee a spend-free holiday, but they may help you to cope on a student budget.

1. Book Train Tickets In Advance

Spontaneously booking your train home for Christmas seems tempting, but some forward-planning could save you a whole lot of cash. For example, one-way Leeds-to-London tickets are now available via thetrainline from £16 on the days leading up to Christmas. These prices will sky-rocket on the day. Ask friends and housemates when they are travelling home so that you can plan your own journey. This way, you can avoid both breaking the bank and missing out on that final group trip to Fruity.

2. Be Gift-Wrapping Savvy

Why is it that, when you need festive wrapping paper, the only roll in the house is one with ‘Happy Birthday’ scrawled across it in gaudy colours? Invest in some generic (but fabulous) paper which is appropriate for use all year round; this way, you’ll only have to buy one roll instead of two or more. Sparkly silver or gold is always a winner. For an extra thrifty wrapping tip, cut out sections from the front of last year’s Christmas cards and use them as gift tags.

3. Get Creative

You probably can’t get away with gifting your parents a macaroni masterpiece anymore, but that doesn’t mean that all handmade presents are off the cards. Last year, my friend made each member of our group a small bottle of vodka flavoured with our favourite sweet. Although I found my friend’s liquorice flavour slightly questionable, we all drank our bottles dry. There are also numerous recipes for homemade chocolate, sweets and savoury snacks online. Package these in a pretty, personalised box and you have the perfect gift for the whole family.

4. Create Budgets and Cut Out Any Unnecessary Gift Buying

Christmas is a time for love and generosity but it is easy to get carried away and completely overspend on gifts. If you don’t plan on hand-making presents, create a strict budget for each friend and family member and stick to it. In addition, be ruthless about the number of people who you decide to buy for. Ask yourself: does Noreen from down the road really need that new shower gel set? If it suits you, make a pact with your friends to skip buying expensive gifts for each other and, instead, plan a fun activity to celebrate the holiday season together. A night out drinking cocktails, or even a night in watching movies, is likely to be equally, if not more, appreciated than a material gift.

5. Build Up Loyalty Points and Spend Unused Vouchers

Pick up loyalty cards from your favourite shops and accumulate points to spend on gifts or Christmas dinner when you buy for yourself. Admittedly, these points take a while to build up for only a small reward, but every little helps. Also, stop receiving vouchers through the post, stuffing them in a drawer, and forgetting about them. Although some will be useless, you may find some gems if you dig through these. Websites like moneysavingexpert.com, wowcher.co.uk and vouchercodes.co.uk also have an abundance of excellent deals.

6. Start Planning For Next Christmas

It may seem extreme to already be thinking about next year but there are benefits to effective pre-planning. As soon as this year’s festivities are over, shops will slash the price of their leftover Christmas stock to a fraction of what it originally cost. Not only does this mean that pigs in blankets and mince pies are going to be cheap as chips, but non-perishable items will also be reduced. Decorations, lights, crackers, cards, can be snapped up for a tiny sum so the stress of next year will be slightly reduced.

Sticking to these tips will help you enjoy a less stressful holiday season. You may even have some spare change for a couple of extra Christmas pints at the pub! And if all else fails, regifting that terrible, unwanted Secret Santa gift is always an option.


Lily Mead

Image Credit: Daily Express