According to the insurer LV, parents are planning to spend an average of £168 on presents for each of their children with over half of parents planning to spend the same or more than they did in 2009. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to make Christmas special for your kids — but you do have to have some time to either hunt out the biggest bargains or to get your children involved in making gifts and Christmas treats. Here are some money saving tips to try:
1. Check out online nearly new boards on parenting websites. Netmums has a nearly new board that’s worth looking at. You can find out what’s available (for free or to buy) in your local area.
SAVVY TIP: If you prefer you could go to your local school’s Christmas fair. Many fairs have nearly new toy stalls which are great for stocking fillers.
2. Use Christmas cards as gift cards for next year. Another option is to put them in a box so that your children can make collages or pictures during rainy, dark days.
SAVVY TIP: A low cost alternative is to get your children to draw a picture and copy it to make your own cards.
3. Encourage your children to make Christmas decorations. It doesn’t matter how garish or glittery it is, make sure it ends up on the tree!
4. Download a free personalised video message from Santa. There seems to be lots of good feedback from the Portable North Pole site. Fill in your child’s details and they’ll receive a video direct from Santa.
5. Try the website Babybudgeting.co.uk for tips and free offers. You can download a 45 minute MP3 from Relaxkids to help your children get to sleep when the excitement gets too much. Here’s a link to the relaxkids giveaway on Babybudgeting.
6. If you have more than one child, don’t worry about spending the same on each when it comes to their stocking or even having the same number of presents. Instead concentrate on buying them something they’ll like.
SAVVY TIP: It’s when you rush around buying presents you feel you have to get that you end up spending more than you need to.
7. Don’t spend lots of money on things that won’t get much use. £1 and 99p stores are great places to start your bargain hunt. Poundland sells hanging decorations, a ceramic pig piggy bank and Santa sacks for £1 in its Christmas store. Alternatives to try are the 99p store or discount supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi.
8. Get a subscription to something that the whole family will enjoy. This can be a low cost alternative to buying lots of individual presents. It could be something you’re all interested in (a friend of mine’s signed her family up to the World Wildlife Fund where you get a monthly magazine that kids and you can give as little as £3 a month).
9. Have an honest conversation with other parents. There’s no law that says you have to buy each other’s children presents. Even if you’re only buying small presents it all adds up.
10. Don’t be afraid to let your children get bored. The Christmas holidays are supposed to be a time for you to relax as well (I know it may not seem like that) so don’t put yourself under extra pressure – emotional or financial – by feeling that you have to take your children out on trips or entertain them.
And one tip for next year…
Start a box of treats for your children. You might not want to commit to buying their main present in January (their tastes may have changed by December) but you can buy extra presents in the sales and you’ll have less to buy at Christmas.
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