Christmas is now only a matter of weeks away and with all the festive food and presents to sort, the run up to the big day can be a busy period.
While there is still some uncertainty about how Christmas will unfold this year due to Covid lockdown restrictions, people will still want to celebrate and mark the occasion as best they can.
The festive season is always a very expensive time of year, and with the ongoing pandemic, budgets are likely to be even tighter this winter - but there are ways to save your pennies and still have a fabulous Christmas.
Here are a few simple hacks to help save yourself both time and money this December.
Start shopping early
Starting your shopping in advance of the big day will help you to manage your funds over the coming weeks, and ensure you are organised for when Christmas rolls around.
Make a list of gift ideas for everyone you plan to buy for and work your way through buying everything bit by bit, spreading the cost over different pay days to ensure you have enough left over each month.
Do your research
Taking some time to research which gifts you plan to buy can help you track down the best deal, rather than just buying from the first place you see.
Shop around online for the cheapest prices and make sure to order early enough so everything arrives in time for Christmas.
Set a budget
It’s easy to get carried away with gift giving, so make sure to only spend what you can afford. Decide on a set budget for each person you’re buying for and stick to it.
Visit outlet stores
Swapping the high street for outlet stores can land you some great bargains, so it’s worth branching out to see what you can find.
Many popular shops now also have outlet stores online, which can often be found on eBay, making it easier to browse if you don’t have any shops close by.
Add a personal touch
Sometimes you can’t beat a thoughtful homemade gift, and they are often a lot cheaper, too.
Get creative this year and save some money by crafting your own presents, whether its festive bakes, homemade candles, handcrafted baubles, a scrapbook, or a knitted scarf - there are lots of arty things you can have a go at.
Avoid gift vouchers
Buying gift vouchers at Christmas might be best avoided as retailers may go out of business - particularly during these uncertain times - leaving recipients at risk of being unable to spend the voucher or get any money back.
A safer option might be to give the gift of cash instead, as you’re guaranteed the recipient will be able to spend it on something they want.
Cash in your supermarket vouchers and points
If you collect vouchers or points from supermarkets, you could cash these to help fund your Christmas food shop.
If you’ve been collecting them throughout the year, it could take a big chunk off the total of your bill, but even just a small discount can help over Christmas.
Book train tickets in advance
While it is still unclear what the rules on family gatherings will be at Christmas, if you are hoping to take a trip to visit your nearest and dearest, it’s best to get organised early.
Rail operators typically launch their tickets between 10 and 12 weeks before the date of travel and you can sign up to get a free alert to notify you when they’re available.
Tickets also tend to be cheaper if they are purchased in advance, so booking early usually pays off.