Easy ways to cut costs this Christmas

Woman making a Christmas shopping list. (Getty Images)
Christmas doesn't have to break the bank. (Getty Images)

It won’t have escaped your notice that December is not a cheap month. Presents, parties, pantos: it all adds up.

But this year we are set to spend less as the cost of living bites. The accounting service PwC predicts we’ll spend around £393 per person on presents and festive celebrations, although that is £33 less per person than we did last year.

So can you still get a sack-load of Christmas cheer on a reduced budget? Yes you can and here are some of the easiest ways to save.

Read more: Your ultimate Christmas dinner shopping list

Make a list, check it twice

The biggest risk this Christmas is that you spend without really planning and end up with a debt hangover that lasts well into the new year. It’s also no fun to be stressing about your spending when you should be relaxing (or stressing about defrosting the turkey!).

Budgeting may not be the most festive thing to do but it will make a big difference. Sit down, work out what you can afford this year and then you can plan exactly how much you can spend on each bit of Christmas – from presents to parties.

Just remember that prices have gone up since last Christmas so it may take some planning to bring everything in under budget.

Prioritise your purchases

Close up of a young family opening their presents on Christmas morning. (Getty Images)
You could give presents to just the children this year. (Getty Images)

Sorry, I know this this tip is essentially ‘just spend less’ but it’s still a message that a lot of people may need to hear. Celebrating on a tighter budget means cutting back and if you decide where to cut back in advance then you are less likely to end up overdrawn or maxing out your credit cards.

Do you need a starter as well as your Christmas main course? Do the adults in your life really need presents or would a thoughtful message be just as good? Is this the year to send e-cards instead of posting real cards?

You won’t be the only person rethinking their standard Christmas spending this year so embrace it.

Trim down the cost of turkey

Lots of supermarkets are offering low price deals Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, especially if you’re happy to opt for frozen food.

If you’re willing to trek around a few different supermarkets for the very best prices then you can bring the price down even further. For example, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Lidl have all started offering low prices on festive veg – with sprouts, carrots, potatoes and parsnips all priced at just 19p.

Check out our guide to Christmas dinner for a fiver a head for some more ways to fill your plates up while keeping the cost down.

Read more: Should you charge your guests for Christmas dinner? How to handle the festive dilemma

Sack off Secret Santa

Colleagues giving each other secret santa gifts. (Getty Images)
Don't feel pressured to spend money where you can't. (Getty Images)

It’s nice to swap gifts in the workplace but if you decide to give it a miss this year then you won’t be alone. One in six workers questionned by Instantprint said they were giving the office Secret Santa a miss this year due to the rising cost of living.

So if Bridget in Accounts suggests it, you could simply opt out. Or make it cheaper and more fun by suggesting a very low budget, like £1. Don’t tell me that unwrapping three Freddos wouldn’t be better than a £10 novelty mug.

Check out Amazon’s damage discounts

Did you know that Amazon marks down items that are returned or mildly damaged so you can buy them for much less? Sometimes it’s used items or purchases that have been opened and returned – it’s well worth checking out. Search for ‘Amazon Warehouse Deals’ and you can browse all the categories, including DIY, beauty and books.

Just do compare the deals with the items on the main website, to be sure it’s a substantial enough saving. Alternatively, the MoneySavingExpert website has a good summary of the top deals available.

Earn some cashback on your shopping

If you’re still Christmas shopping then there are ways to make some cash as you go. Websites like Quidco and TopCashBack may be able to offer you a percentage of your spending if you make the purchase through them. Just make sure you use any codes provided to make sure you get the deal – and you may not qualify if you’ve already added items to your basket so check for cashback bargains first.

Just remember that you’re unlikely to get that cash in time for Christmas, so don’t factor it into your budget or you risk going overdrawn.

Read more: Free Christmas decorations: How to forage for an eco-friendly festive season

Buy second-hand

Woman shopping online on phone at home. (Getty Images)
Get pre-loved items delivered from the comfort of your own home. (Getty Images)

This is the perfect year to really embrace second-hand. It’s a great way to save or help your budget stretch a bit further.

You don’t have to traipse around the charity shops if you can’t face it – although a top tip is to head to the fanciest end of town and hit their charity shops as they often have plenty of designer gear.

But many charity shops have websites now and then there’s Vinted and Depop and many other second-hand selling platforms. So you can laze on your sofa and still shop second-hand!

Remember, second-hand is not second best. It’s best for the planet, best for your pocket and it’s far more thoughtful than some generic gift.

Always look for a deal

Never buy anything without first searching online for a relevant discount deal.

Very often with a specific retailer, you will be able to find some sort of discount code that gives you some money off or perhaps free postage or some other perk.

And if you’re buying an item that’s generally available then be sure to compare prices online. Just be wary of scammers.

Don’t fall victim to a Christmas criminal

When you’re shopping online and you’re in a hurry and you want the best price, don’t forget to be careful of criminals. Never use a website without checking the reviews to make sure it’s genuine and not stealing your data and your money.

And remember, if something seems too good to be true then it probably is – so be careful.

Read more: The late Queen's mince pie recipe, as revealed by royal pastry chefs

Buy in bulk

Bulk box of wine. (Getty Images)
Get more for your money. (Getty Images)

There are quite a lot of really good deals if you buy in bulk. For example, lots of retailers offer good discounts on wine if you buy six bottles.

But it’s only a bargain if you actually want it, so if you don’t want a full six bottles then maybe you could buy with a friend or neighbour, split the cost and share the discount.

We can all raise a glass to that!

Watch: Martin Lewis shares 'Christmas shopping quickies' and savings hacks for festive season