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How to have a cost-effective Christmas

Amid a cost-of-living crisis, it’s still possible to enjoy the festive period without a painful financial legacy

Financially, 2023 has been a tough year for many of us. Inflation has eaten into disposable incomes, leaving less money for marquee events like holidays, birthdays – and Christmas, looming large in this month’s calendar.

If your spending power has dwindled this year, don’t panic about the imminent arrival of Santa and his elves. There are plenty of ways to have a cost-effective Christmas, from upcycling and regifting to reusing old decorations. Here’s how to spread festive cheer without spreading your finances too thin…

Reuse and recycle existing decorations

Start your cost-effective Christmas by reviewing last year’s decorations. Unless anything’s broken, reuse it – you might be able to replace it all next year. Everything you throw away ends up in landfill, so it’s better for the planet to get another year out of your artificial tree and the decorations your kids made. Always check mains and battery-powered lights still work before putting them up!

Shop cheaply for new decorations

There are some lovely garden centres across Cumberland, but their decorations and festive furnishings tend to be expensive. Instead, look on Etsy and eBay if you need new tree lights, table runners or card holders. Other great sources of affordable new or pre-loved decorations include the Vinted, Gumtree and Preloved websites.

Agree budgets in advance

This might seem mean-spirited amid endless advertising, but many other households are feeling the pinch as well. You could agree with friends just to buy each other’s kids from now on, or agree with relatives to set a ceiling on each person’s spending. This makes it easier to budget, stops anyone feeling they haven’t done/bought/spent enough, and alleviates some of the financial pressure.

Regift wherever possible

Many of us have drawers and cupboards filled with things we’ve never actually used and don’t intend to. These can be repurposed as presents – toiletries for friends, toys for younger children, small objects for the office secret Santa, and so forth. Regifted presents should ideally be new or pristine – used items in good condition can be given to charities, rather than thrown away.

Ask people what they’d like

It’s often frustrating to receive gifts other people thought you’d like, rather than things you actually want. There’s no shame in giving out suggestion lists – specific toiletry brands, certain books, etc. That way, the presents everyone opens will be gratefully received. This is especially true for parents – avoiding things kids have outgrown, duplicated presents or gifts they might not appreciate.

Do things instead of buying things

Many of us shower our loved ones with presents, when they’d often prefer our attention. Make the Christmas holidays about more than just presents by arranging activities and experiences. Visiting a Christmas market is a cheap yet fun activity, as are winter picnics, duvet days, board games and parlour games – anything that makes people put down their phones and interact with each other.

Scale back Christmas dinner

This might sound like heresy, but do you really need to blow the bank by make everyone overly full on Christmas Day, stressing yourself out with timings and trashing the kitchen before ending up with loads of uneaten food? Drop a couple of sides, shrink the portion sizes, and you’ll all enjoy it more. Eating less over the holidays saves money – and there’ll be less dieting required in January…

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