As we hare towards Christmas, I am trying to pause a bit to enjoy the season. I am doing some frugal Christmas preparations. It’s so easy to spend more than you plan to at this time of year.
It may be that we can’t have a big family gathering this year, but we are still doing a present exchange and will have a group video call at some point on Christmas day.
We will have a small family Christmas with the girls and our lodger. She is Portuguese but has decided not to travel home this year. So we have invited her to join us to experience a typical British celebration!
Using it up
I have also been writing Christmas cards. Last year I made the decision not to send them, apart from to a few older family members, but after the year we have had it felt important to write a little note to friends and family we haven’t been able to see for such a long time.
I didn’t need to buy any, as I found a load in the attic when we got the decorations down. It’s amazing how many such things we accumulate. I’m pretty sure most of them were bought about four years ago in the post Christmas sales! It makes sense to use them up anyway and helps towards our budget Christmas preparations.
Whilst in the attic, I also found a large bag of wrapping paper that I carefully saved and folded from presents we received last year, plus a large number of gift bags. Our presents will be thriftily wrapped using this, the reusable fabric gift bags* I purchased on Amazon (*my affiliate link) and some fancy scarves I picked up in the charity shop.
This is more to be eco-friendly than to save money, but every little helps! Last year I joined the #cutthewrap movement to make Christmas more sustainable, and intend to do this from now on.
Our very old artificial tree has come out again this year. I was quite tempted by a real one from Home Bargains at £9.99 a go, but reckoned the dog and cats would have a field day with that! Archie loves nothing more that chewing a branch. As it is, he has pretty much ignored the old one, apart from having a sniff of the baubles.
We haven’t bought any new decorations this year either, although I was kindly given some by the Christmas Shop, who also gave me a box to run as a give away on Instagram. They are really lovely, and add to the natural looking and vintage ones I have picked up in recent years.
I find that the charity shops are brilliant for Christmassy stuff. You really don’t need to spend a lot to make your home look festive.
In Aldi I couldn’t resist splashing out on this festive bouquet, though. I had planned to pick some holly with berries on, but when I got to the woods it had all disappeared! I fitted this into my frugal Christmas preparations, though, as it was only £4.99 so I could justify the expense.
Planning Christmas food
As ever, meal planning is important; it’s so easy to buy excessive amounts of food and end up wasting much of it.
I have been buying non-perishable items when I have seen them on offer, so we have plenty of chocolates, snacks and booze already. The turkey is in the freezer (from Iceland), and we already have a small Christmas cake and some puddings.
I have a list of fresh stuff to get and will pop out early on the 23rd to get it all. That’s about as last minute as I can stand and I have no desire to be anywhere crowded right now.
£5 Christmas cash back
I know people enjoy Christmas shopping, but I have been quite shocked at the news coverage of shoppers all crammed together in markets and shopping centres. As much of our gift shopping has been done online as possible. We both have vulnerable elderly parents so want to protect them as much as ourselves.
If I was a 20 something, I would certainly make an effort to get out and support local shops. As it is, I have made a point of buying at least some of our gifts from small businesses on Etsy.
For everything else, I always check Top Cashback first to see if the retailer I want to use is offering money back. This link is my referral code if you want to give it a try and get £5 just for signing up. Personally, I think it’s brilliant and equates to money off, so I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Signing up to newsletters
As I have been doing my online shopping, I have found that you are offered discounts and free postage if you sign up to retailers’ newsletters.
One of my daughters asked for a new coat as her Christmas present. I got a 10% discount for signing up to the newsletter, which meant a £9.50 saving!
I actually hate being deluged with junk though, so I always unsubscribe pretty quickly.
Food bank update
We have finished our annual #foodbankadvent collection. It is now sitting in the hallway waiting to be delivered when I get the opportunity.
I enjoy doing this each year. Buying a few bits each week means you don’t notice the extra expense and it feels good to be helping people who are less fortunate.
Living in poverty is horrible at any time, but in winter at Christmas it must be truly miserable. We may not be rich, but I thank my blessings every day that we have a cosy home and enough to eat.
So, that’s my week of frugal Christmas preparations. How are yours going? Have you braved the crowds or are you shopping from the sofa?
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