How not to waste money on Christmas: A Scrooge’s guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or is it?

It might be more accurate to say; it’s the most expensive, stressful, cold, dark, and busy time of the year.

A high street at Christmas

However you feel about the festive season, it can get a bit overwhelming if you’re not careful. Sometimes when you try ‘forcing’ yourself to have fun, let loose and spend without abandon in the name of Christmas cheer, it can leave you with a bad case of the Bah Humbugs (what even is a humbug, anyway?).

So, if you’re simply filled with mulled wine and mince pies and not with holiday cheer and goodwill to all men, why not follow our ‘jolly’ holiday guide on how not to waste money this Christmas.


1.      Don’t waste money on presents

Y’know the sad truth about presents you feel like you should buy? The person you’re giving it to can often feel obliged to get you something in return, leaving both of you a bit skinter than before. Repeat this over a couple more years, and you may find yourself feeling the warm glow of resentment towards your loved ones, rather than festive spirit.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can instead give one another the gift of having one less person to waste precious Christmas shopping stress on.

If that seems too direct (or you like all your friends), adopt a softer approach. Instead of buying presents ‘just because’, don’t. Ask yourself, are they going to gift you something you’ve been waiting for all year, or that you couldn’t possibly get yourself?

I’m not saying don’t gift your beloved, your parents and siblings or your kids (unless you think they deserve to be on the naughty list). I’m saying that rather than receive another boring bath set, your not-so-immediate family or friends may appreciate your presence instead.

The great thing about Christmas is that there’s usually lots to do for cheap. You can walk around your local Christmas market and have a nice chat over a hot chocolate. You can invite peeps around for a festive potluck dinner and watch Elf for the 62nd time. You can check out your local council’s events page for fun and festive activities for the kids, many of which are free.

Make the suggestion to do something fun appeal directly to your loved one, by saying something like:

“Me. You. Hot toddy and gossip at (local old man’s pub). Deal?”

“Hey, there’s a charity snowball fight happening in Nearby Townsville, and it made me think of you and the kids straight away. Shall we go? We’ll build a fort and pummel the little squirts. HAHAHAHA!!” (maniacal laughter optional)

Adding a personal touch like this lets your loved one know that while you’re not giving them a physical gift, they occupy a sizeable chunk of your otherwise Christmas-addled mind.


2.     Don’t waste money on a new outfit

Christmas clothing should be loose fitting and able to withstand long periods of sitting and eating Quality Streets for breakfast. Everyone does that in-between Christmas and New Year…am I right?

If you’re not a Scrooge and decide you want to sparkle this season (because there are never enough sequins at Christmas) my friends and I swear by outfit swapping. Why not trade your outfit from last year for theirs?

Or, the easiest way to festive-up an old frock (sorry guys) is with bold accessories, like:

  • A sequined clutch or shoes
  • Statement rings, necklaces or earrings

High shine, opal colours and textures like velvet will instantly feel lux and festive AF.


3.      Don’t waste your money on decorations

The three frustrations stages of decorating:

 Step one: The deep clean

Before you can decorate, you have to clean the whole house (windows and all). I don’t know why. This is just what my mother instilled into me.

Look, life’s too short to scrub at your shower grouting with your roommate’s toothbrush for two hours. Why not get the whole house spotless in one hour with some help from Mumlife blogger Elise Sheree?

Watch her video below to learn how to speed clean your home so you can get on to more important things…like sipping liqueur every time someone says “ooh, these nights are getting darker, eh?”

Step two: Get everything out of storage

Right, helpful hints over. Back to moaning.

Now everything’s finally clean, get your dusty boxes out (totally logical). Untangling fairy lights, no matter how carefully you put them away, is probably a form of punishment reserved only for the deepest circles of Hell.

Once they’re free, there’s always one that doesn’t work and trying to disperse them evenly on a tree, is practically impossible.

This is also a good time to do a last minute declutter to see if there’s any unwanted stuff you could sell on eBay.

Step three: Put everything up, and keep it up

Spend a month picking up pine needles. Rescue your cards every time a hint of a breeze bowls them over. If you’ve got dogs/cats/a crazy toddler be prepared to play ‘catch the Christmas tree’ when one (or all of them) knock it over.

Alas, why not try something new this year and go for a minimalist Christmas tree (just kidding guys). But you could try making some decorations.

Dried fruit garlands have an old fashion charm and make your house smell naturally amazing (although having mulled wine on the go does the same thing). Why not go for a walk and do some foraging?

Use it as an excuse to get away from your family or, if they’re not bonkers, take them with you. You could spend an afternoon making your own wreath with your spoils or, trying to get the feeling back in your limbs after your freezing walk.


4.     Don’t waste your money on socialising

Start shouting ‘Bah! Humbug!’ from early December at any mention of Christmas, merry or otherwise, and this should drastically reduce the invitations coming your way – great work my little Scrooges.

But, if Santa’s pesky elves are still sending you invites – it’s ok to say NO.

Time flies when you’re stressed and constantly eating cheese. On top of all your regular adulting, you’ve got presents, wrapping, the Christmas food shop, throwing tinsel everywhere and watching nativity plays to contend with.

You can’t be expected to meet up with all your friends and family as well. It’s OK to say no. It’s OK if you can’t afford to say yes to everything. And, it’s OK to hide at home in your festive PJs (mine have little snowmen on) watching Home Alone and eating minced pies.

Cosy slippers in front of the fire

Your friends and family will still be there in January.

5.     Don’t waste money on Christmas dinner

Ahh, the Christmas dinner. A chance to squash sit around the dinner table, making small talk, forcing everyone to don a paper hat and realising halfway through, you forgot to put the pigs in blankets in the oven.

With supermarkets shelves bursting with biscuits, booze, puds and pies, you could spend months stocking up on your festive favourites. But should you?

Every Crimbo, us Brits throw away an estimated 2 million turkeys. This year, why not save some money and do something good for the environment with these 12 tips on how to waste less.

On average, households will spend £169 on their Christmas dinners. Even if you don’t waste any food by following our tips for using up all your leftovers, you’ll still be taking in a lot of calories.

The average Brit can consume 6000 calories on Christmas day  (I’m pleased to inform you  I’m above average guys! High five!) Supermarkets want you to spend money, but you don’t need to. You can still be a savvy shopper and save money on your Christmas dinner without sacrificing on taste.

If you’ve got any tips on how to save some money and your sanity during Christmas, let us know in the comments section.

Now, I’m going to hibernate and I’m not coming out until it’s all over.

Bah – humbug!




Posted by in Living with debt