How to have a thrifty Christmas!

Money Matters

Christmas is in the air! There are adverts everywhere for perfume, toys and lots more, with sales galore. Although you’d be forgiven if you started hitting the shops (both physical and online) with gusto, it is possible to enjoy Christmas without spending all your money. How? Read our guide to find out:

Start with some perspective

Having a thrifty Christmas starts with working out how much you have to spend. Remember that Christmas is just one day a year – after the sparkly wrapping paper has been cleared away and you’re on your third day of turkey sandwiches, you will still need money for essentials.

As you won’t get paid your next instalment of loan until January, you will still need to allocate money towards your rent/ mortgage, food, utility bills, travel, etc. After covering these costs, what you have left is how much you have to spend on presents.

Don’t be tempted to borrow lots of money – Christmas is a time of celebration, but it is simply not worth acquiring a debt hangover for!

Make a list

Make a list of family and friends that you would like to buy presents for and then compare this with your budget. If it won’t stretch, it’s time to be realistic – can you afford to buy presents for everyone?

If everyone is feeling the pinch, you could come to a ‘no presents’ agreement with your friends or suggest a Secret Santa – set price limits of £10 each and shop around.

Consider buying group or family presents instead, such as big boxes of chocolates.

You could arrange a group activity with your flatmates such as clubbing together to cook a Christmas meal – all can bring a different ingredient to share the cost.

Manage the expectations of others – if you have children to buy for, be honest about how much you can afford. If family/ friends can wait, consider offering IOUs for after Christmas when items are likely to be in sales – this may not work with everyone though! Money Saving Expert has lots of ideas for cutting down on costs here

Do your research

In the run up to Christmas, there will often be flash sales–check out consumer websites like Money Saving Expert as these will have further details about pre-Christmas sales as well as possible discounts.

Websites aimed at students like Save the Student may also be useful.

But it can be easy to get distracted and then overspend when looking online, so try to stick to your list. Remember that it’s only a bargain if you were going to buy it in the first place!


Don’t discount pre-loved or pre-owned gift – consider going to charity shops/eBay for quirky, one-off gifts as this will be cheaper.

Do you have any nearly-new items yourself that you can repackage and re-gift, such as books, clothes, accessories, etc? You might even consider re-gifting presents that you received in the past and haven’t used – but be careful not to give the gift to the person who gave it to you! Bundle up freebies like make-up or skincare samples for great stocking fillers.

Look at any impulse buys that you desperately wanted at time but then never used – chances are someone you know will love it.

Be crafty

Don’t underestimate the value of homemade presents. You could paint or draw a picture, write a poem or story, make biscuits or cakes, knit a scarf.

Cut down on costs by making your own decorations or wrapping paper or buying these from discount shops.

Need further ideas? See our Crafty Christmas post and videos on how to make reindeer hot chocolate and salt dough decorations and more.

Give the gift of time

What are your talents – are you IT savvy? Can you help a friend or a relative with something – it could be cooking, gardening, cleaning, shopping . . . It might not sound exciting, but often your time and skills could be very useful and more appreciated than a cheap gift.

Enjoy the atmosphere

Remember that it’s not all about spending money – there are plenty of things you can do for free or next to nothing: go to a carol concert, play Christmas songs, decorate the tree, go to see the Christmas lights. Just spending time with your loved ones can make a memorable and enjoyable Christmas.

Look after yourself

And finally, don’t forget to spend time on yourself. Although it will be tempting, try to avoid excess such as eating and drinking too much as this is likely to affect your mood and your health. Get plenty of sleep. Take some exercise, even if it is only a walk around the block. Give yourself permission to take a few days off from your study, but don’t neglect any important reading or revision so that you don’t fall behind when you come back in January.

Wishing you a Thrifty Christmas and a happy New Year!

Do you have any thrifty Christmas tips? Let us know and we’ll share them on our blog.