I was looking through our local supermarket catalogue this week and was taken aback when I saw a page dedicated to Christmas. Whaaaat???!!! After the shock wore off that they were advertising Christmas already, I checked the calendar and sure enough, we’re only 3 months away from the craziest time of year. Oh my goodness, where did the year go?
If you haven’t been putting money aside for Christmas throughout the year, then you’ll need to start planning now. The worst thing you can do is ignore the speeding Christmas tree heading towards you, panic at the last minute and buy everything on the credit card. It would be the worst way to start 2019, you’d be behind before the year even started. So, if you haven’t made any financial plans about Christmas yet, read on.
The main areas you’ll need to plan are:
- Christmas cards and postage
Christmas is not just about the day itself, but the lead up to Christmas with parties and family gatherings. Using previous years as an example, look at the foods you made or took to Christmas gatherings. Are there any ingredients you can add to your regular grocery shop? Buying even one or two extra items every time you go shopping will help spread the cost of Christmas over the next 12 and a bit weeks. Just make sure to check the expiry date to ensure it’ll keep until December.
Why not start making small finger foods, like sausage rolls, quiches and mini pies and freezing them? All of these will last 3 months in the freezer. Check out our savoury foods post for recipes and more ideas.
Watch out for great specials in the supermarket catalogues. Many of the supermarkets advertise various foods at half price; stock up when they’re cheap.
If you’re hosting a large Christmas gathering, why not ask everyone to bring a plate of food to share?
Alcoholic drinks can seriously eat into your budget. Keep your eye out for great specials, and don’t be afraid to ask them to price match if you see a great deal somewhere else.
Why not go halves with a family member or friend in a carton of beer or a case of wine/bubbly? Or just pick up a bottle here and there when you have a few spare pennies. If the budget is really tight, buy just one bottle (under $10) to go with your main Christmas meal.
For non-alcoholic drinks, pick up a few of your favourites in your regular grocery shop. Fruit boxes for kids are usually always reasonably priced, and cans of soft drink can be picked up when they’re on special. Just make sure you put them away so they’re not consumed before Christmas.
Purchasing gifts can not only be expensive, but a huge headache too. Start with writing down a list of people you’d like to give gifts to and then set your budget.
Be realistic. If money is tight, don’t set a $50 budget for each person. Pop your thinking cap on, get creative and save where you can. Can you split the cost of a gift with someone else? Why not make something?
You don’t need to go crazy when buying for children either. I am often stunned by the sheer volume of gifts some kids get, let alone the amount of money that is spent. Think about what the child is really interested in, and steer clear of the electronic-money-pit if you can.
There’s a “4-gift rule” out there in internet-land which is to give children:
“something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read”
Very simplistic I know, but some good ideas that you can expand on. With just over 12 weeks to go, you can buy items online and they’ll have plenty of time for delivery. Keep an eye out in the department stores for toy specials. World of Books (https://www.worldofbooks.com/en-au) is a great online secondhand book store with free delivery Australia wide. Or buy from an online book store when they have free delivery.
We’ll have some posts in the coming weeks for thrifty gifts ideas so stay tuned!
Christmas Cards & Postage
Make a list of everyone you send Christmas cards to – grandparents, cousins, teachers, family, friends and neighbours. Packs of Christmas cards can range from $2 to $20 so shop around and find something that will fit into your budget. Why not make your own Christmas cards, or get the kids to help?
Don’t forget to budget the cost of postage. If you’re sending Christmas cards internationally or domestically, ask for card stamps (or Christmas stamps) as they’re cheaper than letter stamps. But be careful if you’ve purchased large Christmas cards as they may be more expensive to send if they don’t fit Australia Post’s size guidelines. If you are sending cards overseas, look at posting them out towards the end of November to ensure they have plenty of time to arrive at their destination.
Save money where you can by using things you already have at home. If you have old Christmas tree decorations you don’t want to use this year, why not incorporate them into a table centrepiece? Add some glass jars filled with a little salt and a tealight candle, some pine cones, a little tinsel or some greenery from the garden.
There are tonnes of beautiful ideas on the internet for Christmas table centrepieces, have a look and find some inspiration. Don’t forget to get the kids involved too. They’ll be making plenty of Christmas crafts at school in the last term, why not get them to bring their ideas home and add to the Christmas decorations. They’ll love seeing their handiwork on display for everyone to see.
- Count how many pay days you have between now and Christmas and work out how much money out of each pay you can set aside.
- Plan your Christmas menu and write a list of all the foods you need to buy. Pick up items when they’re on special, and add a few to each grocery shop.
- Set a budget for your drinks, buy when they’re on special and store them away safely.
- Make a list of the people you wish to give gifts to. Stick to your budget and don’t go overboard. Start picking up a gift every week or two, spread it out over each pay period.
- Buy or make your Christmas cards, write a list of recipients, and budget for postage.
- Find inspiration for your Christmas decorations, repurpose what you have and get crafty!
A few of our previous posts you might find useful are:
Keep an eye out for more thrifty Christmas ideas to come. The countdown is on!