There’s no doubt about it — Christmas is expensive and a hard time of year to save money. When you do the maths on all the gifts we buy for each other, not to mention all the extra nights out that inevitably come around every silly season, it seriously adds up. And when everything is decked in Christmas cheer, and you’re burnt out after a long year, it can be so hard to say no.

That’s why it’s important to have a budget in place well before the festivities begin. As Taylor Swift once sung, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” — I’m pretty sure she was talking about saving your money at Christmas time, right?

If you don’t know how to save money at this time of year, let us point you in the right direction. Your bank account will seriously thank you come Christmastime.

How To Save Money And Still Enjoy The Festive Season

Prepare A Monthly Budget

Yep, I bet you saw this one coming. Honestly a monthly budget is the best way to keep track of your spending, save money and prevent that post-shop anxiety spiral. If you’ve never made a budget before, Christmas is actually a great time to start.

You can go super basic with it at first. Make a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for and how much you feel comfortable spending on each item, factoring in all your other monthly expenses too (rent, utilities, groceries, you know the drill — sadly none of these are on pause for the holiday season!)

Also consider this your permission to spend a little less than you might normally this year. We’re in the middle of a cost of living crisis, inflation is through the roof and we’re STILL going through a global pandemic. If you’re feeling the pinch, you’re definitely not alone, and you definitely don’t have to spend your last dollars on Christmas gifts.

Catch Up For Free

So many festive catch ups are in bars, cafes and restaurants. As much as we love supporting local eateries, sometimes it pushes the budget a little too hard to go out night after night. That’s why catching up with your friends and fam at home, or at a local park, beach or garden could be a goer if you wanna save money.

You don’t have to just sit around — you can put together a cute little picnic, or go for a scenic walk or swim. You can have a movie night! And the best part is you don’t have to worry about the time or about how much money you’re spending. You can just enjoy the company.

Try A Secret Santa

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself buying gifts for almost every single person you know at Christmastime. I really love buying gifts for people, but I buy so many every year that it’s starting to get a bit out of hand. A potential solution to this spending vortex is a Secret Santa.

A Secret Santa is a really fun way to cut down on spending AND stress — instead of buying ten gifts for your family, you’ll be able to focus on just one really special gift for one person. A Secret Santa will also cut down on waste and you won’t end up with a bunch of useless stuff like every other year. It’s a win-win situation.

Ask Your Guests To Bring A Plate

If you host regularly, particularly at Christmas, you’ll know how expensive it is to feed a bunch of people (especially if you’re buying alcohol too). This year, when your friends and family ask “what can I bring?” to a Christmas event, actually give them something to bring! Not only will this save money, it’ll also relieve some of that inevitable holiday stress.

Your loved ones want to help lighten the load. Let them.

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Try Something New For Christmas Lunch

Speaking of food, most traditional Christmas food gets pretty pricey around the big day. Ham, turkey, seafood — it’s all really expensive stuff. If you want to cut down on expenses, you might want to try something a little out of the ordinary for your Chrissy feast.

Stock up on bulky salads (think rice and pasta-based salads) and roast veggies. Try marinating some tofu, or if that’s a bit too out-there, you can try roasting a whole chicken instead of a turkey. There’s heaps of delish alternatives to the traditional Christmas lunch that will not break the budget.

Sure, lettuce may be under $10 now but times are still pretty tough. Head to our Bougie But Broke vertical — brought to you by Cheddar — for more money saving hacks.