Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Cutting the cost of Christmas

Lighting the fire this morning, I came across an article in the Daily Express that I bought last week for the Aldi voucher.  The article is entitled, "20 ways to cut the cost of Christmas" so I thought I would share their words of wisdom with you, and give you my opinion on the ideas....take it or leave it!

1. JOIN FORCES - their idea is to get all your guest to contribute to a get-together with each person or family being responsible for part of the meal.  We will be doing this on Boxing Day when our extended family gathers here for tea.  The FH's cousin's wife always brings bread rolls, and ham, and my cousin and aunt will likely be in charge of the desserts.

(image from goodtoknow.co.uk)

2. CREATE GREETINGS CARDS - the suggestion here is to print your own cards using internet resources, but I don't do that.  I find that buying the actual cards in the sales straight after Christmas gives me plenty of choice and as long as I store them carefully and know where they are, I have no problem!  They also suggest using e-cards, but the best of these are usually from companies requiring an annual subscription.  I have to admit that the cards I send are usually to older people who don't use computers so they appreciate a real card.

3. TRY REGIFTING - recycle gifts that you receive which don't appeal to you.  A grey area in some people's minds, but I am happy to do that.  I don't always actually re-gift the items, as sometimes they will end up as raffle prizes at the chapel, but they don't go to waste.

4. GIVE FREEBIES - This works well until the recipients realise that they have been given freebies.  As the girls have been on the receiving end of this one, I shall just say that I wouldn't do it, having heard their conversations on the matter.

5. MAKE PRESENTS - Yes, the fudge and sweet production factory that is my kitchen making goodies for the school staff and some friends is about to swing into production mode next week.  My recommendation is to use tried and trusted recipes, though, and not to attempt something new when so much rests on success, and you may be under pressure of time.  Get all the ingredients in the house, and think about packaging before you start.

(image from cookinglight.com)

6.  OFFER YOUR TIME - I don't do this as I haven't time to do all I want to do let alone offer services for others, but if you have free time, this would be an option.

7.  RECYCLE DECORATIONS - Swap decorations with friends?  You must be joking!  Our decorations are old friends which we only see for about two weeks annually....we love getting them out each year.

8.  ...OR MAKE YOUR OWN FANCY BAUBLES - Making things from leaves, and spraying pine cones is a lovely concept, and there are tonnes of ideas on Pinterest as they rightly say.  It's just not me, though, and I would have to go miles to find any pine cones round here, so it wouldn't really work for us.  Christmas is about Christ, family and spending time together, and I don't want to make my Christmas more complicated than that.

9.  PLAY CHEAP GAMES - The YFG loves playing board games, and has a wee heap in her room, and she will rope people in to play something with her.  I dare say that there will also be some tournaments on the Wii as the girls don't get a lot of time to play games during term time, but they do enjoy thrashing one another at MarioKarts when they get the chance.  Because they don't spend hours playing these games day in and day out, they are still enjoyable and fresh when they do have a little spare time.

(image from justbeachild.com)

10.  POST A FREE LETTER TO SANTA - Our days of doing this are long gone, but we have done it in the past!

11.  ENJOY CHURCH CAROLS - Plenty of churches will be putting on carol services this month and we will be having our own on Saturday afternoon here - cue prep work for me, but they are enormous fun, and everyone loves singing carols - and singing is good for you, too!

(image from scarboroughcollege.co.uk)

12.  LOCAL EVENTS AND ENTERTAINMENT - An excellent suggestion to check out your local council's information and see what they have got going on in the area for families and people in December.  There is bound to be something going on - we have had a Christmas market nearby in the town on Sunday, and there are fairs and shows happening in schools and groups all the time.

13.  FREE SANTA'S GROTTO - I can't say I support this suggestion really as I have yet to see a Santa's grotto that didn't make a charge for a gift from Santa.  

14.  MAKE YOUR OWN HAMPER - there have been threads about this for several years on MSE, and people make the most amazing hampers!  From stocking up through the year on bargains to making glorious home-made jars of goodness, making your own hampers can be a wonderfully satisfying thing to do.  Just make sure you don't blow the budget on the actual container for the goodies!

15.  SEND INVISIBLE PRESENTS TO CUT POSTAGE COSTS - completely agree!  I have sent packages to older children in Scotland for the last few years and the postage costs sometimes outweighed the value of the gifts.  Vouchers, e-cards, codes for a download - much better!  Having said that, I have decided that no one outside the family over 16 is getting a gift this year, so those particular youngsters are off my Christmas list now and I don't have to worry about postage or anything.  One has to draw a line somewhere.

16.  FIND THE CHEAPEST POSTAGE METHODS - If you must send parcels, by all means send them by the cheapest method possible.  There are various websites offering services, and we have used one of them very successfully in the past when sending out beehives.  Look for the best deal on the size and weight of the parcel, and go for it.  Otherwise, wait until you meet up with the recipients later on in the year - a present in June makes a lovely surprise occasionally!

(image from telegraph.co.uk)

17.  GIVE A CUT-PRICE THEATRE TICKET - Can't say we would, but if you are theatre fans, it would be worth a browse to find some deals.

18.  PUT OFF CHRISTMAS UNTIL DECEMBER 27th - No way am I going sale shopping after Christmas, but if you are a hard-core bargain hunter, this might be for you.  Giving the gifts after the big day would be hard to pull off with the children, but it might work for extended family members if you are not seeing them until later in the season.  Not one for me.

(image from telegraph.co.uk)

19.  USE YOUR POINTS - Absolutely!  My Nectar points bought one of the YFG's gifts from Sainsbury's this year, and we used some of our Tesco Clubcard vouchers to double up and bought her board game from Tesco.  The EFG's choices weren't as easy to source from places that used points, but she has had £20 in Amazon vouchers from my Shop and Scan points - more on that in another post.

20.  WAIT UNTIL THE VERY LAST MINUTE - No way!  This absolutely would not work for me!  I can't cope with the uncertainty of not knowing that I have got what I need.  However, if you can take the stress of waiting until the afternoon of Christmas Eve to do the shopping, you most likely would score some big bargains on fresh food and decorations.  I'm not so sure about gifts, but the perishable stuff would be reduced to clear with the shops being closed on Christmas Day itself.

So that is the advice from one national newspaper, and my thoughts on their ideas.  My own advice is to keep it within your budget, don't go mad and remember that there is no need to buy into a frenzy of consumerism for one day of the year.  Enjoy the season, and don't bash the credit cards, especially if it means you are going to be paying for it for months ahead.

No comments: