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First published:
12/12/2022

Top Tips

How to save money this Christmas and New Year’s

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The holiday season, including Christmas, New Year’s, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, is typically a time of gift-giving, dinners, parties, and celebration, but all of this can bring added financial stress. 

This is particularly true during the current cost-of-living crisis and the added pressure it places on our mental health and finances. 

While this time of year can have benefits for our mental health, it’s important that we approach the season in the right frame of mind and consider our finances.  If we approach the holiday season with the right plan, it’s a great way to set us up for the new year and beyond. 

Here are just a few money-saving tips you can try this holiday season. 

1. Second-hand presents

It might seem odd to give somebody a second-hand gift, but charity shops often include new and unused items and used items in good condition. Vintage items can make for great gifts. Buying from charity shops means your money will go to a worthy cause. You might have to put a bit of extra time and effort into finding a second-hand gift, but focusing on a task can be really good for our wellbeing, so you might even find this helps your mental health. 

2. Gift or care vouchers

Handmade gift vouchers are a fun alternative to expensive gifts, allowing you to do something nice for somebody without spending money. For example, you can create a voucher for a homecooked meal, a walk in the park, chores – anything you can imagine. These can be as simple or as complex as you like – written simply on a piece of cheap card, or hand-designed and artistic. Giving to others is one of the "five ways to wellbeing" so a gift like this might also improve your mental health.  

3. Consider not giving presents this holiday season

We often feel bad for not giving somebody a present during the holiday season, but with large families and circles of friends, it can be difficult to be able to afford to buy everybody a present. Consider having a conversation with loved ones about the cost-of-living crisis and propose that you mutually skip presents this year. A mutual agreement ensures nobody will feel bad for overspending or underspending, and it allows you to propose an alternative like spending quality time together. 

4. Agree to spending limits

If skipping presents isn’t possible, you can agree to mutual spending limits that are within your shared means. This way, you can feel safe in the knowledge that you’re not overspending or underspending compared to your loved one. Having a limit can also help direct what you purchase.  You might feel anxious or worried about having a conversation about money, but you can prepare yourself by reading MoneyHelper’s tips on having conversations about money.

5. Homemade or home-baked presents

If you’re crafty or you love to bake, homemade or home-baked presents are a great way to save money while also giving a truly special present. Whether you love to knit, crochet, paint, or bake, use your creative skills to the fullest and give something you can’t buy on the high street. You might also consider sharing these skills with loved ones, perhaps combined with the homemade gift vouchers above to provide lessons for a loved one in your chosen skill. You might even want to try to learn a new craft to make a gift, as learning a new skill is also one of the five ways to wellbeing!

6. Work out a budget, then stick to it

We often want to go above and beyond at this time of year, giving our loved ones a truly magical time even when it might not be within our means. It might help to work out a budget using our budget planner, or our general tips for managing your money and mental health. Once you’ve calculated your budget, you can prioritise who to buy presents for and who you might be able to skip. 

7. Look for ways to save money on Christmas dinner

If you’re planning a family meal, look for ways to save money. According to Respect Food, the highest food waste happens at Christmas with over half of Brits saying they spend more money on food than they should during this time of year. Not only is this an environmental concern, but with the average UK household spending £169 on food at Christmas, it’s possible to save money purely by buying only what we need. Consider how many guests you expect to have, consider their dietary requirements, and only buy what is truly necessary.  

This might feel like a big task that could make you feel worried or anxious. If you feel overwhelmed, try breaking it down into smaller tasks and take each small task on one at a time. For example, you might start by just planning what you are going to have on Christmas Day.  

There are other ways to save money. You can also keep an eye out for deals, or consider chicken as an alternative to expensive turkey. You can even use MySupermarketCompare to check prices for the cheapest deals. 

8. Sell unwanted items

Not only can selling unwanted items help to fund the purchase of Christmas presents and Christmas dinner, but it might also help others find presents. Take a look through your house and accumulate anything you aren’t using. Sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace make it easy to sell online. 

9. Think twice about borrowing money

You might be tempted to borrow money in order to fund the Christmas period, but debt can create added stress on your mental health. As much as we might want to borrow money and deal with the consequences later, think about ways you can save money instead while still making the season memorable. 

10. Take advantage of the January sales

If you’re able to do so, ask loved ones if they would mind having a gift-giving session in January. That way, not only are you able to extend the fun a little past the new year, but you can also purchase presents in the January sales and save a little money.  Even if you don’t do gifts in January, how about making plans to meet up with loved ones anyway? Connecting with people we love is great for our wellbeing and we shouldn’t need to wait for an excuse to spend time with friends and family.  

As the holiday season passes and we enter into a new calendar year, now is the best time to plan ahead for 2023. Check our tips for managing your money and mental health in 2023 for guided advice. 

From all of us at Mental Health and Money Advice, we wish you a very happy and restorative holiday season whatever your plans may be. 

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