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Christmas on a shoestring - top tips for Christmas on a budget

05 Dec 2016

piggy bank

Christmas: the most wonderful time of the year...and the most expensive! When families spend on average £800 on Christmas each year, how can you save pennies without feeling like a total Scrooge?  

Here at Stagecoach we want you to have your best Christmas, whatever your budget, so here’s our best advice for having a brilliant Christmas, without breaking the bank.

1. Make what you can

You don’t have to be a Pinterest expert to create a few handmade gifts, and your time and effort will often be appreciated much more than something you spent your hard-earned cash on. Our favourites ideas are cookie jars (write a cute label with instructions on how to make them), homemade hampers (which you can tailor perfectly to your recipient), photo calendars and homemade coffee syrups.

2. Make a list (and check it twice!)

We’re all guilty of popping to the shops to get wrapping paper and coming home with two scented candles, a box of Celebrations, a festive wreath and a pack of profiteroles. So create your list and stick to it! Include everything you need – especially the little bits you forget and end up paying a fortune for in the corner shop on Christmas Eve, like wrapping paper, tape and gift tags.

3. Set a budget...


Along with making a list, set aside some time to work out exactly how much you want to spend over the course of Christmas (including everything from events to food to gifts to your jaw-dropping party dress) and figure out where you should spend and where you can save. If you know your family doesn’t care about crackers, don’t buy a fancy box, but if you know your mother-in-law is fussy about the Christmas pudding then allow a little luxury, and move down a price level on the essentials instead.

4. ...and agree budgets for gifts

When it comes to gifts, decide who you’re buying presents for, and importantly, who you’re not. Decide on a budget between you, so you don’t give a friend a selection box and get a designer purse in return. 

5. Be a savvy shopper

shopping online

Websites such as MySupermarket are the best for comparing the price of your Christmas dinner essentials, and for gifts keep an eye on services such as Megashopbot for finding the best deals. If you regularly shop on Amazon, camelcamelcamel tracks the changing price of items and alerts you when it hits your goal price.
Don’t forget to take advantage of cashback sites such as Quidco, where you can get a percentage of your spend back from certain retailers, and discount code sites such as HotUKDeals.

6. Save on Christmas cards

Instead of traditional Christmas cards, send e-cards to your friends and family with personalised photos and messages, just like a traditional card. You can also donate the money you save on cards and postage using sites such as Don’t Send Me A Card. Still want to send cards? Write them as soon as possible and send them  second class to save a few quid if you have lots of cards to send.

7. Switch up your wrapping paper

Wrapping paper is pretty expensive for something that you only use once and then put straight in the bin! Why not use old magazines, newspapers (you can pick up free newspapers on many of our buses!) or even fabric for a reusable alternative.

8. Get help with Christmas dinner


If you’ve volunteered to cook Christmas dinner this year, ask your guests to help out. Even if you’ve got it all under control, it might help to have someone else provide the cheese, wine or chocolates. 

9. Save on nights out

Of course Christmas is the time to let your hair down, so don’t feel that you have to stay indoors if you’re trying to save the pennies. Consider getting the bus, rather than taking expensive taxis. Invited out for a meal or for food at the Christmas markets and you’re watching the pennies? Eat something before and just get a starter or a side at a restaurant, or a snack or dessert at the markets. And remember, you don’t have to say yes to every invitation that comes your way during the festive period – everyone will understand if you need to save up!

10. Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect!


There’s a lot of pressure at Christmas to get everything right and for the whole thing to be “perfect”, but it’s just one day, and not worth bankrupting yourself for the rest of the year!If you’re budgeting this Christmas, make sure to tell your family and friends, who definitely won’t mind getting a smaller or homemade gift this year, or no gift at all. Nobody will notice if your potatoes are misshapen or your cookie jars don’t look quite like the ones on Pinterest.

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