Christmas on a budget: How to save money on your gift shopping

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The cost of living is insanely high in the UK at the mo, and I think a lot of us are trying to make sure that Christmas doesn’t push our finances over the edge. So, if you’re trying to shop for Christmas on a budget – here are 20 ways to save money on your gift shopping…

1. Make a list and set a budget

Work out realistically what you can / want to spend this Christmas on presents, and work from there. Cash envelopes can be a great way to keep on track and ensure that you don’t overspend – check out my cash stuffing post for more info – just use an envelope per person when you’re shopping for gifts. And don’t forget to download and print my FREE Christmas Budget Planner to help you stay on budget – listing the name of the recipient and also each gift.

frugal mum, christmas budget planner, free, printable, gift shopping image


2. Plan ahead

Try to get organised and start your shopping as early as possible – that’ll give you the best chance of keeping costs down and reducing festive season stress – my complete Christmas to do list can help with this! Shopping early allows you to take advantage of sales and discounts leading up to Christmas, whilst avoiding last-minute shopping which can lead to impulse purchases and overspending.


3. Avoid unnecessary gifting

It’s a lovely idea to buy for all of your friends’ children and distant relatives, but realistically shopping for lots of people is both stressful and expensive. Discuss with family and friends about setting limits on gift-giving, or even skipping traditional gifts altogether – focussing on the joy of spending time together instead.


4. Shop year round

Something to think about for next year, to really get ahead of the game, is shopping year round. Picking up bits and pieces throughout the year – making the most of discounts, and spreading the cost – can be a great way to make things more manageable. There will also be amazing reductions on lots of gift items from Boxing Day onwards – so if you’ve got room to store things until the following Christmas, you might want to consider hitting the January sales.

christmas gift wrapped in brown paper


5. Secret Santa

Instead of buying gifts for everyone, why not suggest a Secret Santa or gift exchange where each person only has to buy one gift within a set, manageable budget. This will reduce your pre-Christmas stress, and keep your bank balance in check.


6. Frame your child’s artwork

Poems, paintings and drawings become extra special when they’re framed and displayed, and they’re the perfect, inexpensive gift for any parent or grandparent. Frames can be picked up so cheaply in budget stores, or even second-hand from charity shops; such a simple but thoughtful gift.


7. Make your own coupons

Personalised coupons are a great gift for every occasion – they don’t cost a penny but could be exactly what someone needs, so think about what skills you can offer. Why not offer to help in the garden, wash the car, cook a meal, babysit or give some DIY assistance?

For the kids, the coupons could be for a movie night, a trip to the park, a later bed time or maybe an extra 30 mins device time. Not every great present can be gift-wrapped – download my free, printable Christmas coupons to get started.

free, printable christmas coupon from frugal mum


8. Join forces

Think about collaborating with other family members, so that you have a bigger budget for gifting whilst sharing the cost, stress and organisation. We always combine our Christmas gift budget for my parents and my nan with my sister. I prefer to give people something to do, instead of lots of ‘things’, so joining forces means that we can treat them to something special like meal voucher, a day out or theatre tickets, without it being unaffordable.


9. Shop around

For every gift that you purchase, shop around online to get the best price. Compare prices and offers from different retailers and, if you’re hitting the high-street, make sure that you check online prices on your phone before you buy to make sure it’s a good deal. Look out for pre-Christmas toy sales and last-minute discounts, and always do a good hunt for voucher codes!

If you approach sale days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday with careful planning and consideration, you can get some great deals and perhaps a good head start on your Christmas shopping. Just be smart about it, as the deals aren’t always what they seem, so make a list, set a budget, do your research and make sure that you don’t spend beyond your means. For more info, read my article: Black Friday – is it worth it?


10. Buy preloved gifts

If you want to buy gifts without spending loads of money, shop second-hand. With the internet at our finger tips, it’s never been easier to find good quality items (often new with tags!) for a fraction of what they would cost new. Check Facebook Marketplace and local selling pages, Preloved, Preworn, Vinted, eBay and your local charity shops.

Last year, I bought Lola a new, sealed boxset of ten Jacqueline Wilson (her favourite author!) books for £5 from a second-hand site, and I’ve got the kids a couple of lego sets from Vinted this year too.

frugal mum child unwrapping christmas gift

In previous years, I’ve bought second-hand bikes, a train table, a dolls’ house – you name it! There will always be someone selling something you’re after, and the kids will soon grow out of it and be onto the next phase anyway, so there’s no need to be spending a fortune.

This year, my Mother-in-Law has set us the challenge of spending only £5 on each adult, and purchasing gifts from a charity shop to help out those in need too. It’s amazing how many treasures you can find second-hand, and we’re enjoying the challenge too – I think it’s something we’ll keep going for years to come.


11. Craft it yourself

If you’ve got a skill, why not make something personal to give this Christmas? If you can sew or knit you could make scarves, blankets, throws, doll’s clothes or a personalised stocking. Or if you’re handy with wood you could make a stationery organiser, a toy box, a puppet theatre, castle or a dolls’ house. People are always giving away leftover paint and scraps of wood or pallets on local social media groups, so utilise what’s on offer and be creative.


12. Save your reward points

Lots of supermarkets, like Sainsburys and Tesco, allow you to collect points every time you shop. Save them year round to have a good stash ready for when December arrives – you’ll be able to buy some freebie gifts, or enjoy some festive luxuries without spending a penny!


13. Make edible gifts

Why not spend a rainy Sunday afternoon creating your gifts from the comfort of your own kitchen? Depending on your skills, you could make jars of homemade jams, preserves, chutneys or sauces. Or perhaps make your own fudge, or bake some festive foods like Christmas cake / pudding, mince-pies, gingerbread cookies or shortbread. Food mix jars can make great gifts too – things like cookie ingredients, or hot chocolate kits.

homemade star mince pies cooling on rack


14. Check for cashback

Most well-known retailers, along with smaller companies that you might be surprised to see, are on cashback websites like Top Cashback and Quidco. It takes just a second to visit their website first, before clicking through to the website that you’re shopping on. Even small amounts of cashback soon add up – we’ve had thousands of pounds accumulate in ours since joining. So, never shop online without checking first – it’s literally free money!


15. Reduce waste

Re-using gift bags and wrapping materials is a great way to save money on gifting – you might even prefer to buy sacks or pillow cases that you can use year after year. Don’t forget to make use of what comes through your door too. Keep boxes, bubble-wrap, tissue paper and other parcel bits when you have deliveries – these are all things that can be re-used when you do your Christmas gift-wrapping.


16. Give the gift of memories

Memories are priceless and a photograph is worth a thousand words. Frame those magical moments, or create a photo album or scrap book for your loved ones to enjoy. Time is so precious, and children grow so fast – there’s nothing Grandparents love more than a trip down memory lane.

frugal mum family christmas photo


17. Cut down on Christmas cards

Get the kids involved in crafting personalised Christmas cards for close friends and family. Beyond that, send a personal message online or by text to reconnect with those you’ve not seen for a while without the high cost of cards and postage stamps, and to cut down on Christmas waste.


18. Make your own hampers

Avoid expensive pre-packaged hampers, instead opting to make your own from scratch. Kits with wrapping and baskets are available in lots of shops over the Christmas period – but you could even make use of those given to you in previous years, simply refilling them with new goodies. You could gift edible treats or choose a theme to suit the recipient’s interests – perhaps: gardening, pamper goodies, reading, sport, movies, cooking, DIY – the ideas are endless.


19. DIY gift wrapping

Personalise your gift wrapping with homemade wrapping paper – use plain brown paper and add your own designs, stamps or drawings – I get the kids involved too! We make our gift tags from last year’s Christmas cards – giving them a second-lease of life, whilst making everyone’s different, personal and free!

frugal mum child printing christmas paper, brown paper, stamps, ink, gift wrapping, craft


20. Utilise freebies

Keep your eyes peeled for things that people are giving away for free – sometimes they may even be in fantastic condition, but if not think about upcycling your finds. There might be a tatty wooden dolls’ house or toy car garage that you could repaint to give it a new lease of life – making it look brand new for your little one to open on Christmas morning.

Olio is a brilliant way to get freebies – they have a non-food section for bits and bobs. And, check out the food too for ingredients for any homemade edible treats you might want to make.


Feeling creative or need some more ideas for no spend Christmas gifts? Check out my post: Ideas for Christmas gifts without spending money.


This post was featured by Twinkl in their Thrifty Christmas Guide.

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