Every year, people spend unbelievable amounts of money on Christmas presents and are faced with a huge credit card bill come January. It is estimated that Britons will spend a whopping £16.7 billion on gifts for friends and family this Christmas. How does the old saying go? “It’s the thought that counts.”
This year, I have made it my mission to stick to a budget of £5 to £10 per present. Here are a few tried-and-tested ideas on how to save your pennies this Christmas and where to find the best bargains.
Bargain Hunting in Charity Shops
It’s amazing what you can find inside a charity shop; you just need to have a little time and patience. Rooting through the racks and rails of a charity shop can be quite satisfying, even though it may take you some time to find that perfect present. But don’t give up too easily!
This Christmas I have managed to buy an unused gift set, various DVDs, and a selection of books – all under £3 each. If you have a good rummage, you can often find good quality men’s shirts and ties, children’s toys and clothes, as well as women’s accessories like handbags and scarves.
Knowing that your money is going to a good cause also gives you that added ‘season of goodwill’ feeling and a great sense of festive spirit.
Discount Shops: Look Out for Branded Items
There are so many discount shops to choose from these days, from B & M to Poundland, but the key to finding good presents is to be picky about the quality – i.e., gifts that don’t look cheap. Especially keep an eye out for branded items.
My favourite discount shops include Wilkinsons, Quality Save, Home Bargains and TJ Hughes. Many of these stores have provided me with great little stocking filler gifts (like branded skincare such as The Real Shaving Company’s products for men and Gillette moisturiser, all under £2 each) and larger gifts (Totes women’s slippers at £5).
One particular shop which must receive a mention is TK Maxx. If you are looking for something a little bit different this year, this is one of the best places to go particularly if you like buying big brand labels. I recently picked up a 100% silk Pierre Cardin tie for £9 and good quality ski socks for £2.99.
Don’t forget that eBay can also be a great source for seeking out unusual presents. Many items are available on a ‘buy now’ so you don’t have to worry about bidding for an item and not winning.
High-Street Sales: Make the Most of It
Buying gifts doesn’t have to be left to the final weeks leading up to Christmas; try looking out for good bargains during the summer or mid-season sales.
The high-street has even slashed prices closer to Christmas this year in an attempt to get people spending again after the recession. You can get some good deals if you have your wits about you.
WHSmith had a fantastic sale of up to 70% discount off gifts and books – I managed to pick up a very elegant diary, address book and journal gift set for less than £5, reduced from £11. If you are looking for the latest book releases, they have some fantastic offers. I bought a copy of Seven Ages of Britain for £5.99, reduced from £25.
If you haven’t already come across it, Money Saving Expert features great offers and deals. You can keep up-to-date on all the latest deals if you sign up for their weekly emails.
Be Creative: Make Your Own Christmas Cards
If you want to get creative this Christmas, why not try your hand at making your own greeting cards. This is a great way to save money but also provides a unique ‘gift’ for your loved ones. You can buy bulk packs of blank cards and envelopes, Christmas embellishments and ribbon – even better, use up any scrap pieces of material and ribbon you may have lying around.
Get Creative in the Kitchen: Christmas Baking
One year, I decided to make Christmas cookies for my work colleagues as an inexpensive but thoughtful gift. All you need is a star shaped cookie-cutter, a few cheap ingredients and a bit of time on your hands. Your cookies can then be packaged up in decorative cellophane and tied with pretty ribbon. This is one gift that is guaranteed to impress, and it won’t cost you the earth.
If you are feeling a bit more ambitious, have a go at making your own gingerbread house complete with decorations. This can make a great gift for a young child, as they won’t be able to keep their hands off all the sweets and chocolates!
So, however you decide to save money this Christmas, make sure you enjoy yourself because after all, that’s a feeling money can’t buy.