This is a rather unusual for post for me. I’m not really a big Christmas person however after reading several of my favourite FI blogs it seems like they promote frugality over festivities! The Littlest Little Miss Fire would be devastated if we didn’t fully celebrate Christmas so here is how to be festive and frugal at Christmas.
Start planning early.
If we are honest, Christmas is pretty predicable – Christmas dinner, who we buy presents for and what parties we are going to never really change year after year. I find it helps plan it all out so you avoid having to run round crazy on Christmas Eve, gift buying and paying way over the odds for something you could have bought months ago!
This is one could easily be the most expensive thing in our house once the littlest one writes her Christmas List out! For tackling the age-old problem of presents, it’s great to write a list of who you’re buying for along with how much you are willing to part with to purchase it! I usually also like to write some ideas down as well! My family tend to be really open about what they like so a simple shopping trip in October gives me a tonne of ideas on what to get them.
I then either wait for the items to go on sale (hello black Friday) or I source them from the cheapest place. Items such as chocolates can be bought in summer as the use by dates are always really good. Another good present tip is to set up a present box. Start it in January and start filling it with items you see that are on sale. This way you always have presents even for those people that you didn’t plan for!
Another point on presents is to think about when you are actually seeing people. If your not seeing some family/friends until January then buy their presents in the Boxing Day sales from the comfort of your computer!
Yes these are technically presents but they can get so expensive that they deserve their own section! Every year the newest, latest and greatest toy comes into fashion and it is impossible to actually buy it ANYWHERE! Even the most OCD Christmas planner (aka me!) takes a knock when the Christmas list is written out by their child!
Mr Fire and I usually buy little stocking fillers starting from September for the littlest one. Even so there is also usually an early December stress of getting our daughters letter to Santa. This year she wanted this:
Clicking through to Amazon it’s currently priced at £199! I would expect a real tiger for that! I checked all the usual suspects too (EBay, Argos, Smyths) no one had it anywhere. A quick search on Facebook Marketplace meant we purchased it for £40!
My advice for all toy related presents is either find out what they want early so you can take advantage of deals or check E Bay and Facebook Marketplace .
Don’t forget to buy the wrapping paper in the January sales, reuse gift bags or simply dress up brown paper to keep saving money whilst also being festive!
Anopther big expensive is Food! Everyone dreams of a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings!
For me Christmas is all about having that one big meal together as a family. We actually have three Christmas meals planned this year and we are hosting two of them.
Again, we’ve planned out our Christmas dinners so we actually bought the meat for them in October (thank you chest freezer) We’ve swapped turkey for Chicken which is usually cheaper and opted for an Aldi leg of Lamb for our Christmas Eve dinner.
Roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings can be made rather cheaply or even bought from a budget supermarket before the Christmas price push sets in.
Don’t underestimate the power of leftovers either! Mr Fire isn’t a big leftover fan (the best way to get round this is not to tell him they are leftovers…) but I’m not fussy. Leftover chicken or turkey doesn’t have to be made into the dreaded cold meat sandwich. Throw it in some curry sauce and heat up some rice, roast potatoes can be mashed or stuffed with cheese.
I never understand the people who go and buy new decorations year after year! We have a big box that we pack our decorations in carefully after taking them down and it’s very rare that they don’t survive. We also keep then in an airing cupboard so they pick up that musty smell from being stored away.
For those decorations that don’t make it, you can pick up some really cheap new ones in January or have fun making your own! This year I’m going to attempt a family bauble making session so we will see how that turns out!
Love them or hate them – Christmas parties are a given during the festive season. Most people forget to budget for these but they can soon add up. Work parties usually come in the form of a meal but once you’ve paid for that then comes the venue costs to cover along with having to buy your own drinks. Avoid getting into buying rounds with people. Most people chose the most expensive alcoholic drink when it isn’t their round and then drink water when it’s their turn to pay.
Then there are gatherings with friends and families. Work out your budget and stick to it. A big no-no for us is splitting the bill between everyone. Pay for your drinks and food as you go along – it always works out cheaper!
Spending time is more important than spending cash.
Whilst I haven’t mentioned anything particularly groundbreaking above, I hope that by sharing how we are festive and frugal at Christmas it shows that you can still strive for FI whilst also enjoying Christmas!
I’d love to hear about your Christmas plans and how you save money at Christmas! What are the weird and wonderful gifts you’ve received over the years?