Skip to main content

We Brits do love to splash out at Christmas, spending £1,116 each on average, with over a third of that on presents, according to a YouGov poll Link opens in a new window. But with the cost of living increasing many of us are rightly seeking ways to spend less - without scrimping on festive style or fun. Here’s how to spread cheer on a budget without damaging your bank account Link opens in a new window.

Do this before you buy anything

If you’re really serious about spending less this year, then the best investment is one that costs nothing: a pre-Christmas clear-out. “By decluttering certain areas of your home before purchasing gifts, you can help save money for a few reasons,” says Meg Nordmann, author of Have Yourself A Minimalist Christmas Link opens in a new window. “First of all, you've just taken a sort of inventory of your home, so you have a better understanding of what you actually own. For example, you're much less likely to purchase new Christmas decor if you've just seen the abundance you already have. You must also grapple with the fact that you may have wasted a fair bit of money in the past - so it can help you really rein in impulse spending.”

How to do the maximalist trend for minimal cost

New baby? New dog? Then now is definitely not the time to invest in delicate glass baubles or heirloom trinkets. Go instead for decorations you won’t mind getting chewed or played with, and remember that budget doesn’t have to look cheap. Bright baubles look great when hung en masse, a mood-boosting trend from a couple of years ago that is still on trend. Interior designer, broadcaster and influencer Sophie Robinson decorated her showstopping 2019 tree Link opens in a new window with deliciously tacky mismatched baubles, while maximalista Zoe Pocock of ‘luxecycling’ brand Muck N Brass has a tutorial on how to make giant OTT decorations for minimal outlay on her Instagram Link opens in a new window.

Why spending more on this will save you money

Artificial trees look better than ever and don’t drop needles - no wonder they’re going mainstream. They cost less in the long run, as long as you have somewhere to store them 11 months of the year, so if you can, buy well - cheaper ones can look weedy. Look for one with more ‘tips’ like this 7ft fir at White Stores Link opens in a new window, £139.99. No room for a full-sized tree? The White Company’s super-cute mini version Link opens in a new window, £35, will twinkle cheerily on your sideboard.

Get the kids on board

When it comes to children, restraint tends to go out of the window. But Meg Nordmann insists that creating limits is crucial. “You may feel like you’re being a Scrooge if you have a ‘smaller’ Christmas this year, so set up expectations in advance. One fun way to do this is to implement the four-gift rule: ‘Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read’. We’ve got so focused on teaching children to list out every little whim and desire - ‘What do you want Santa to bring?’ This shifts you to a healthier balance - there is only one ‘want’ and the other items are more necessary or educational. The excitement of finding gifts under a tree on Christmas Day should be a bonus, rather than the entire point of the season.”

Think outside the box

A growing trend is to decorate beyond the living room - and don’t forget your Zoom background. A bundle of LED lights in a glass vase (£3.50 for a string of 50, Dunelm Link opens in a new window) will add cheer to the daily drudge, or layer subtle garlands of tiny pompoms in muted tones from Garden Trading (£15 for 6ft strings Link opens in a new window). Feeling crafty? Pompoms are easy to make, and can be strung together as garlands or hung individually from your tree; this DIY set from Not On The High Street Link opens in a new window (£11.20) includes two balls of wool.

Credit: Kevin Fitzgerald

Gift a good read

Rein in spending and commit to Christmas gifts on a budget by agreeing a sum up front with specific groups, from extended family to old school friends – or even agree to /not/ buy anything this year. If that sounds too Grinchy, suggest a theme that makes a limited budget by-the-by, like gifting a copy of the best book you read this year. (For extra feelgood points, buy from Bookshop.org Link opens in a new window, which supports independent booksellers.) Can’t see your friends in person this year? Schedule Zoom drinks and post gifts well ahead of time so you can all unwrap them together.

Chic wrapping needn’t be costly

Combine brown paper (£3.30 for a whopping 8m at Hobby Craft Link opens in a new window) with matching luggage tags (£2.50 for 20 at WHSmith Link opens in a new window), and tie with silver and burgundy twine (£4.76 for 10m at rope-source.co.uk Link opens in a new window) or fabric ribbon - your local haberdasher will likely sell bulk rolls. Bonus: not only is ribbon more eco-friendly than plastic, it’s reusable and if you have any left over, bows make a very classy tree decoration Link opens in a new window.

The chicest white Christmas

This year, our money is on door decor being bigger than ever. Google Trends shows an increase every year in searches for “Christmas wreath” - and expect 2021 to go beyond, with massive “door bows” and plenty of festive lights. If you’re hosting on the big day, a low-cost idea with high wow-factor is to scatter fake snow on your doorstep - or your mantelpiece or dining table. Try Etsy for bags of biodegradable fake snow, £7 per litre Link opens in a new window.

Saving up for Christmas?

The Virgin Money Mobile Banking app has clever savings features that can help start you on your way.

Share