We’ve reached that time of the year that can bring about conflicting feelings: we may look forward to the cosy nights in, catching up with friends and family (most of the time) as well as mulled wine and once again the social acceptability of playing Christmas songs (though no judgement from us if you occasionally like to play them before or after December).

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But we might also slightly dread the probable impending cost of being able to do such activities or worry about being able to afford an avalanche of presents without getting into debt. Well, it looks like you aren’t the only one, with retailers predicting that UK shoppers will be spending less on Christmas for the first time since 2012. However, there are plenty of things you can do to make Christmas this year that little bit less expensive, giving you more time to enjoy the frivolity of the festive period, ‘tis the season to be jolly after all!

Budgeting is key 

First of all, one of the best things you can do and undeniably the most sensible, is to figure out how much you can afford to spend this year before splurging. Sounds daunting? Well, this excellent budget planner tool from MoneySavingExpert can make that task easier for you, with three different versions of the tool to choose from: a financial analyser tool, an OpenOffice or Excel spreadsheet version or a printable one, whichever suits you best. It may take an hour or two to complete, but it will certainly be worth it — it’s in your elf- interest to do it, some awful pun enthusiasts may say.

Get selling 

Selling unwanted items you’ve got in your home is a great way to pocket a little extra money, quickly and easily.

  • The most obvious route to go down is of course eBay, it’s a tried and tested, fail-safe option but..
  • Facebook auctions are also an excellent option too and with no auction fees to pay.
  • If you’ve got an old phone, laptop or computer there are also sites like Cash in your gadgets, where you can get a quote for your items, and they will come and collect them (or provide free packaging) and you receive your money within 48 hours of the collection!
  • If there’s time, you can continue flogging goods you don’t need at your local car boot sale. There are people out there willing to pay good money for your second-hand clothes, books and CDs.

Secret santa 

Alternatively, to save you spending on that distant relative you felt obligated to buy a present for, how about you arrange a family secret Santa? Trying to think of present ideas for everyone can be stressful, time-consuming and extremely expensive, so you can bet you won’t be the only one who feels relieved if you decide to approach the subject! To save a bit more money, you could also agree on a budget which is typically only £5 or £10 per person. Some low-cost options include socks, personalised mugs and chocolate.

Sign up for cashback  

Signing up for free cashback websites such as TopCashback or Quidco is another way you can spend a little less this Christmas by earning whilst you buy. By signing up and then buying items online (even for mobile or broadband contracts) via a cashback site, you can make some serious savings.

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Use price comparison websites 

With more of us using online shopping than ever before, finding Christmas presents is often the most convenient and cheapest way of doing things. Shopbots can help to make this process even easier, helping you to find the best deals for books, games, perfumes or anything else your heart desires. These shopbots trawl the net and do price comparisons from numerous different retailers, and automatically find the best price. The MegaShopBot tool is one of the best out there.

Get crafty 

They say it is the thought that counts, and what symbolises this better than a homemade gift. How about a spot of baking? For innovative recipe ideas on a budget, we really like Jack Monroe’s blog. Alternatively, if cooking is your worst nightmare but you are a great painter or knitter, these too can make excellent gifts.

Make the most of the Christmas sales 

It can be frustrating to go to the post-Christmas sales and see items dramatically reduced that you’ve bought as a present for someone months before (or perhaps on Christmas Eve, but the begrudging sentiment remains). Well, how about you agree to do an IOU with friends, so you can all take advantage of the sales and save a little money too?

Making the most of black Friday and cyber Monday can also be a great way to save money on gifts with all the major store retailers and online offering big discounts in the last week of November. From electronics to household items, this can be one of the best ways to grab a bargain.

Make brand swaps 

Turkey, stuffing and alcohol, it’s safe to say Christmas food can end up becoming an extremely costly affair. Whilst in all probability it’s unlikely you are going to buy any less food, how about you make brand swaps with items instead? In a Christmas taste test of the main British supermarket’s for 2017, Aldi and Lidl trumped more expensive retailers in numerous categories.

Sometimes going to the cheapest stores is not always the best value and doing a little bit more research can help you save money. MySupermarket allows you to compare the cost of groceries across the UK’s major supermarkets and could be key to getting the best Christmas food and the best quality too.

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