Here it is, the obligatory blog post about Christmas. Let’s face it, I wouldn’t be doing it properly if I tried to gloss over the most commercially orientated annual event since records began 2016 years ago in a stable.
I love Christmas.
No, I really do! I am so excited this year. I love the build up, and the festive cheer that wafts around in glittery clouds of mulled wine spices and carol singing. I love planning presents and shopping for them, writing cards and opening advent calendars. I love buying things for my children and imagining their faces when they come downstairs to see bulging stockings waiting for them. Christmas means many different things to different people. For us it is about our faith and celebrating it with large family gatherings, playing silly games when the kids are in bed, eating/drinking too much, giving and receiving presents. All accompanied by carols and as much tinsel as I can cram onto a tree (love the stuff). This year I feel even more excited because the eldest has entered the world of Christmas hyper-awareness. She can remember last year, totally gets the context of Father Christmas and goes into paroxysms of delight each time she sees Christmas lights in someone’s window. To top it all off, she was an angel in her pre-school nursery and even had a line to say! *dies of maternal pride* The youngest is a bit oblivious, being only 22 months, but responds to his sisters delighted squeals with little jumps of joy and has clocked on to the fact that twinkly lights set her off. I can’t wait for Christmas morning and watching him figure it all out.
Obviously this year, we are approaching Christmas from a slightly different angle. A frugal one. Having said that though, not too much will be different. What has changed is the thought I have put into things. Usually, I’d do all the Christmas shopping, and the food shops, and know that things would be expensive but just shudder at the bills and hand over the plastic, putting it down to what happens at Christmas. This year I have tried to look at things from a more frugal point of view.
- I worked to a budget for Christmas presents. I am normally against setting budgets (although they do work for some, obvs) as I think they can lure you into spending the budget even when you don’t need to. However, presents are going to be brought so I thought a limit on how much to spend would help to keep myself in check.
- Because I am working to a budget, I have tried harder to save money where I can. The kids presents are mostly second hand from charity shops or facebook. This in itself was tricky as I felt that I could buy things because the price was right rather than because I needed it. A couple of examples of absolute steals: Disney princess bed set – free off facebook, car mat – £5 off facebook, couple of Thomas the Tank Engine trains – £5 off facebook, really good condition sleeping beauty dress – £2 charity shop. You get the picture.
- Most of our family and friends are getting homemade presents (sorry fam). This is one of the best ways to save money but to still give a gift that is (hopefully..) appreciated. That is, if I manage to make all the stuff on time…Stage One is pretty much in hand, Stage Two is not, nor is Stage Three. So it’s going well.
- Nectar points. Even before our new frugal thing, I used to save all the Nectar points I reaped throughout the year to supply us with all the Christmas food and booze we’d need. Now, because you have been paying attention, you will know that we shop more in Asda, rather than Sainsburys. You are very observant. Because of this my Nectar balance was very low compared to previous years, and since the value of the points themselves has plummeted, it was a pitiful £22 that I was able to get ‘free’. Still, I knew this to be the case well before I went shopping so I tried to be smart and get things that needed to be better quality, or were drastically outside of our usual shopping price range. For example (because who doesn’t want to know?!): 1x Bottle of Harveys Bristol Cream (can’t have Christmas without it….), 1x Gammon joint (Christmas eve lunch), 1x box of Christmas biccies (obv), 1x box of crackers (red, because the three year old chose them). Pitiful compared to the Nectar hauls of years gone by but better than nothing!
- Cashback sites. This year, I didn’t buy much online (see the third point), but the two things I did purchase through the interweb were bought using cashback sites. If you’re not sure what these are, I am not the best person to explain. They are not complicated, but Google (or anyone really) would do a better job than I can. Basically, you get money back from buying things online by going through sites like Quidco and TopCashback. Now, if I was better at this blogging thing, these links would be affiliates, but it is almost 10pm and I basically cba atm, so they are just normal links. I’ll figure it out one day.
- I love sending Christmas cards and this is one aspect of the season that I have had to think hard about this year. Buying and sending Christmas cards is not a particularly frugal thing to do. I know some people donate the money they would spend to charity instead. But I have decided that we won’t be cutting back on this part of Christmas, it is one of the only times in the whole year that we send actual post to people, and I love getting cards from friends and family, knowing that someone else was thinking of us as they wrote it. Just as we were thinking of them. Additionally I am a massive fan of the Cards for Good Causes, and one of my favourite Christmas prep things to do is having a good look at all the different designs they have. I find I will often choose cards from charities that I probably wouldn’t actually donate to normally. Not because they are not good causes, just because there are so many charities out there, often I only come across them via their cards. As it is one of the few times we give to charity, I don’t want to compromise it*
*Slight addendum; This year is a bit different as I decided to use up all the random leftover cards from Christmases past, so I only needed to buy one pack rather than my usual three or four – frugal thinking in action. Also the eldest ‘designed’ her own at pre-school for the first time and naturally we had to buy a pack….
So there you have it, those are the ways I am attempting to frugalise our Christmas this year. I could go on about the things we are not doing (because they are a nod to the commercialised nonsense that Christmas is in danger of becoming, such as Santas Grotto visits, Christmas Eve boxes, Chocolate advent calendars, Elf on the flipping Shelf – although that is more because the idea creeps me out….) but I won’t. 😀
The good thing about Christmas is that it is predictable. It happens every year, at the same time, so there is no excuse for being caught by surprise. Plan for it and you can enjoy it in anyway you like! You have my permission 😉