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Thursday 29th February 2024

How to have a frugal family Christmas

Shoestring Jane shares tips for a frugal family Christmas, emphasising budgeting, creative gifts, traditions, and cost-effective card alternatives for a memorable holiday

family Christmas


I’m not turning into Scrooge, honestly! I think it is possible to have a frugal family Christmas without feeling you are missing out.

There is no reason you can’t join in the festivities when you are on a tight budget. Here are some suggestions to shave some pounds off your festive spend.

Get the best deals

Aiming for a frugal family Christmas doesn’t mean you don’t buy anything; rather, it means that you shop around to make sure you are getting the best deals.

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If you find something you want to purchase, research the websites of similar retailers to see which is the cheapest or if they are running any special offers. 

Use cashback

Once you find an item you want to buy online, use a cashback site such as Top Cashback or Quidco to get back some of the purchase price.

Keep your spending under control

It’s all too easy to get into a spending frenzy once you start. The shops and online retailers are full of sparkly Christmas bits to lure you in, but do you really need them, and will they be used?

I find that setting a budget is super helpful to enable a frugal family Christmas. An Excel spreadsheet can be a good tool for this. 

I type in everything I plan to spend money on and set an approximate spending limit. Everybody I need to buy gifts for is listed (don’t forget obscure ones such as teachers or any one-off gifts to the window cleaner, etc.), along with all the Christmas food we will need, costs of outings or parties, clothing, decorations, travel, etc.

Focusing on my list and ticking things off as I buy them helps to stop unnecessary spending and keep me on track.

Make Christmas hampers

Not every gift needs to be shop-bought at great expense. If you harness your creativity, you can make some of your own gifts more cheaply, and if you let the kids help, it creates family entertainment, too. 

For example, various Christmas hampers can be pulled together inexpensively. I look for suitable baskets and boxes in charity or pound shops. They can be filled with sweets, toiletries and other items you can purchase little and often as you see them.

A pamper hamper might include cotton wool balls, bubble baths, face or hair masks and bath bombs. You could pull together a gin hamper with mini bottles or cans of gin, alongside a nice gin glass. (I recently picked up a really fancy one for £1 from a car boot sale!)  

Children will appreciate a craft hamper containing coloured pencils or crayons, stickers, different coloured pieces of card, glue, glitter, pipe cleaners, etc.

If you have a particular talent for painting, knitting or pottery, the world is your oyster for homemade gifts.

Create frugal family Christmas traditions

There are many fun things to do at Christmas that don’t mean spending lots of money. For example, here are some frugal family Christmas traditions you could create to make memories rather than a dent in your overdraft.

  • Play board games. Many homes have piles of them lurking in a dusty cupboard. If not, the classics like charades are always fun.
  • Do a Christmas jigsaw together. The charity shops were full of festive puzzles when I looked recently.
  • Find a free carol concert.
  • Do a tour of the Christmas houses in your area.
  • Make some Christmas crafts.
  • Do some festive baking. 
  • Go to the light switch-on in your town
  • Decorate the Christmas tree together.
  • Watch old Christmas movies.
  • Write a letter to Santa and get a free reply here.

Save on Christmas cards

If you work in a large office, as I used to, you can end up giving out a ton of Christmas cards.

I recently read about an alternative idea that I wish I had known about. Instead of everyone sending out loads of cards individually, buy one or two large ones and get everyone to write a Christmas greeting to of their colleagues. You could raise money for charity at the same time by asking for a small donation when they sign. 

It is cheaper, creates less waste and a charity will benefit. 

You can also send e-cards where you have the recipient’s email address. There are lots of websites offering templates or you can create your own design using Canva.

This works well for people you don’t see often, as you can add all the family news instead of writing out an abbreviated version on individual cards.

If you are creative, how about recycling last year’s old cards to create new ones? This could be a fun activity for the kids. There are some other craft ideas for old Christmas cards here.

Don’t forget, it’s not about spending the most you can, but spending wisely. Here’s wishing you a frugal family Christmas full of fun festive times and future memories.

Phot Credits: Pexels

Shoestring Jane

Mouthy Blogger

Shoestring Jane is a full-time self-employed mum of three daughters. Her frugal partner in crime is handyman extraordinaire, Mr Shoestring. They are constantly on the look out for ways to save and make extra money. Read more on her blog, Shoestring Cottage.

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