By featured writer JBeatty
It’s the most wonderful time of year, isn’t it?
For children, yes, but for parents who have to shell out all that money for the happiest season of all, it can be quite stressful.
Parents are under an immense amount of pressure to make sure Christmas is perfect for the entire family. From presents and out-of-town trips to parties and other festivities, mums and dads spend much more in December than the rest of the year, much more than they may be comfortable with. In fact, the Liverpool Echo indicate that Brits are expected to spend £33.3 billion on gifts this Christmas, spending well over £100 per child, based on research conducted by Money.co.uk. In a study by Nationwide Building Society, it was found that people plan on spending an average of £727 on all Christmas related festivities.
What parents don’t realise is that it isn’t necessary to spend an exorbitant amount for family celebrations or to create lifelong memories with your loved ones. Sticking to a budget this time of year seems impossible, but with the tips below, you’ll never have to worry about spending more than you can afford during the Christmas season.
- Set your budget
Women’s lifestyle brand Pretty Me states that the number one rule of surviving Christmas is by setting your budget. For presents, figure out an amount you are comfortable spending on each child and your spouse or partner. The key is equality, and by having a limit per person in the family prevents you from splurging more on one family member over the other.
- Consider buying or making unique gifts
One way to save on Christmas shopping is by purchasing handcrafted gifts, made by local and independent designers. Such gifts can be found in markets and small town shops, which tend to be cheaper and better quality compared to products from well-known brands. Another idea for one-of-a-kind presents are DIY gifts. Candles, soaps and homemade hot sauce are perfect for friends, relatives and work colleagues. Money Under 30 also suggest items like bath salts and baking mixes.
- Host a potluck party
Instead of taking care of all the expenses for your Christmas party, take a load off by turning the festivity into a potluck. That way, all the guests are contributing to the gathering rather than one family shouldering such a huge expense and effort in party preparation.
- Don’t go crazy on decorations
It’s true that Christmas isn’t complete unless your house is decked with tinsel, lights, garlands, ornaments and more. While it’s fine to purchase a couple of unique ornaments or replace broken decorations, try to make the most of what you already have! You can always rearrange the decorations to make them look different from the year before, without having to purchase all new lights and wreaths and such. And instead of buying new decorations, consider crafting new ones with your family.
- Be mindful of utility costs
One of the implicit costs of the season is higher electricity, gas, heat and water bills. On top of it being wintertime, the Christmas period also mean more parties, family visits and light displays that have the utility bills through the roof. Dave Ramsey reminds readers that you can keep your utility expenses in check by setting your lights on a timer, whilst also reminding house guests to only run the dishwasher when it’s full, among other things.
- Plan inexpensive family activities
All the seasonal experiences that goes on in December can put a major dent in your budget. There is a myriad of affordable and free activities that will get the whole family in festive cheer, such as baking Christmas cookies, having a festive movie marathon, walking around the neighbourhood with hot chocolate and seeing Christmas lights, and much more. And, if you’d like to spread joy this season to those less fortunate, Inspired Budget‘s list of Christmas activities suggest you can volunteer as a family in your community. Check with your local church, homeless shelter or library to find ways to give back this festive season.
With all these tips in mind, you won’t have to worry as much about money and focus on what’s really important, and that’s quality family time.
Piece by: JBeatty