‘Tis the season to be jolly… and to be forking out a jolly lot of cash.
Christmas is the consumer event of the year, with the average Brit set to spend £796.05, according to research by vouchercodes.co.uk.
It seems like more and more pressure to splurge is put on us every year. Christmas displays go up in shops at the start of October, ads start appearing on TV after Halloween, and now British retailers are hopping on the American “Black Friday” bandwagon.
It can be tricky not to get carried away – but for those that don’t want to break the bank, here are our top tips for getting merry on the cheap.
Book travel well in advance
Christmas is a time for family and that may involve a lot of traveling around. As the big day approaches, demand goes through the roof, and so do travel prices.
Book your travel as soon as you’ve settled your plans. Rail operators launch their tickets 12 weeks in advance and the cheap ones get gobbled up pretty fast so, if you can, try to book your tickets NOW. And keep in mind for next year, booking on or around the 2nd of October when the rail operators launch their tickets might be your best bet.
Also consider travel by coach – you can get some advanced returns for as little as £2.50.
Don’t go gift crazy
Look, we’re not saying you should go full-on Scrooge and refuse to buy anyone a gift… just try not to go gift mad!
The thing is, it’s nice to give, and Christmas is the perfect excuse for treating the ones we love, but when kids, parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, friends and colleagues are all considered things start to get a bit out of hand.
Also bear in mind that if you buy someone a gift you’re putting some social pressure on them to buy one for you, whether they can afford to or not. So make a ‘no gift pact’ with those you know won’t take it the wrong way – or at least propose a secret Santa with a low limit.
Get great deals online
For those gifts you do buy, you can save a ton of cash online with a few clever ideas.
One idea is to go on eBay and look for items listed near you which specify collection in person. Prices are usually quite low on these items as many users will be too lazy or far away, which keeps competition down.
Here’s an Amazon idea too – they have a secret bargain basement where you can find discounts of 70%+ off.
Check out our online money saving post for more great tips. It’s aimed more at saving money on basics, but you can apply the same info towards gifts too.
Rather than forking out tons of cash on big consumer items, consider making gifts for people instead.
This works especially well for children, who don’t value a gift based on its price, but instead on how much fun it is. You don’t even need amazing creative skills to pull off something kids will love – for example, we really like this idea for a surprise balloon box.
For adults it gets a bit trickier because you’ll probably need some skill to pull off a homemade gift. However, the extra effort will surely be appreciated and there are tons of craft blogs out there to find inspiration.
Be smart with receipts
Returning gifts can be a tricky thing, but there are a couple things you can do to help both yourself and your giftees.
Technically recipients shouldn’t be able to get refunds on unwanted gifts, as only the original purchaser has the rights. Many shops actually ignore this, but to guarantee protection you can get the shop to write on both copies of the receipt that it’s a gift and who it’s for. This then transfers consumer rights to the recipient.
If the goods are faulty, but the receipt’s been lost, get whoever gave you the gift to find some other proof of purchase, as that’s all that’s needed in this situation. For more help with refunds see our full post on consumer rights.
Disclaimer: This blog post is strictly for information purposes and we are in no way affiliated with any of the sites mentioned above. We have no control over their content and are not liable for any information provided on these sites.