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Cut festive costs - but not the fun

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Christmas can be an expensive time, but reducing the cost doesn't mean you still can't have fun . Picture: Alamy/PA.
Christmas can be an expensive time, but reducing the cost doesn't mean you still can't have fun . Picture: Alamy/PA.

There’s no doubt that the cost-of-living crisis is taking the sparkle away from Christmas for many families.

New research from retail and hospitality technology company Fourth (fourth.com) suggests the current sky-high costs for everyday necessities – including energy and food – means half of consumers say their Christmas shopping experience is being negatively affected, and a similar proportion are planning to spend less over the festive season.

Here, the experts give their tips…

Agree to buy a gift for just one person

Holly Mackay, founder of the consumer financial website Boring Money, says a good way to keep costs down is to pick names out of a hat and buy one really nice gift for just one family member, rather than lots of little things for everyone – like a secret Santa. “This will save all those last-minute little expenses which can really add up,” she says.

BYO dishes for Christmas dinner

If you’re hosting Christmas, make a list of things for your guests to bring, to spread the financial burden, advises Holly. “Ask other people to bring wine, a cheese board or some nibbles for before lunch,” she suggests.

Set gift spending limits

When it comes to buying gifts, set a spending limit for each person, and make sure your gift list is as small as possible, says Rajan Lakhani, a money expert at the smart money app Plum. “This year, my wife and I have agreed on a budget.”

Gift pre-loved

Consider buying second-hand gifts, especially items like DVDs, books and toys – children, particularly younger ones, won’t know they’re pre-used and you’ll save a stack of money.

Pre-loved expert Rebecca Alford (pictured right), of second-hand books website Wob, says buying everyone in the family a second-hand book each will be a cheap but lovely gift. She said: “In Iceland, books are the most popular Christmas gift – and the Jolabokaflod (‘Christmas book flood’) tradition is to give everyone in your household a book on Christmas Eve, then spend the evening quietly reading with hot chocolate.”

Be strong

All parents want to buy everything on their child’s Christmas list to see their delighted faces on Christmas morning. But Rajan warns: “If you’re struggling to afford something for your children, don’t give in to pressure – buying them something might make you all feel better in the short-term, but it will cause more hardship over the long-term and means you can’t get what your child really needs, rather than wants, in the future.”

Save on pre-made food

Instead of buying luxury ready-made foods, try making your own, says Rebecca. For example, granola can be an expensive item on your regular food shop, but there are lots of recipes online to make this in big batches that will last throughout December and beyond.

Make your own decorations

With a whole host of Pinterest and YouTube tutorials available, there’s no reason you can’t decorate your house or Christmas tree for under £5, says Rebecca, adding “An afternoon making decorations is a nice way to spend time with family too.”

Encourage kids to get creative

Another good idea is to see if your children can make presents, suggests Holly. “They can buy some nice boxes from a craft shop, decorate them and bake biscuits to put inside,” she said. “Or they could buy a photo frame they can decorate, and pop a photo in. My mum always prefers things like this over shop-bought gifts.”

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