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You can get through the festive season without breaking the bank with these great ideas to help you have a merry Christmas on a budget.

Christmas is my favourite time of year. I get to spend time with family; I have a good reason to go shopping and a great excuse to eat delicious food. But it can also be a time of excess, as prices shoot up and spending gets out of hand, so here’s how to do Christmas on a budget.

Read our article on how to make the most of the silly season.

These money-saving ideas will help you tighten the proverbial belt while you enjoy a festive family holiday.

Make a list

  • Write down the names of everyone you need to buy presents for and allocate an amount to each person. Don’t buy for anyone who is not on the list and don’t go over the allocated amount, no matter how tempting it may be.
  • Make a list of the groceries you need for Christmas lunch, and stick to it.

Savvy shopping

  • Shop online. You can often find good deals and reasonably priced goods that will be delivered to your door.
  • Keep an eye out for specials, bargains and good deals. But at the same time, don’t be duped into thinking something is a good price just because it says so; shop around.
  • Don’t buy gifts for yourself, even if you do deserve it.
  • Pay with a debit card or cash, rather than using a credit card.

It’s the thought that counts

  • Children are happy no matter what they get, and a big, expensive present isn’t necessary. Children will value toys that they can play with, regardless of what they cost.
  • Make your own gifts by sewing or knitting stuffed animals, baking delicious goodies or putting together a personalised hamper. You can also bargain hunt for quality second-hand goods or antiques, or give something that costs nothing, such as time.
  • If you’re having a big family get-together, do a Secret Santa. Everyone buys a gift for a set amount, and you can either allocate names or do it as a lucky draw on the day. It is also a lot of fun trying to guess who gave you your gift.
  • If you do Christmas stockings, use smaller-sized ones and fill with fun and affordable toys and games, rather than pricey gadgets.
  • Don’t go overboard on gifts. It’s the thought that counts, not the cost.
  • Find affordable alternatives to wrapping paper, or make your own.

Home for the holidays

  • Make your own decorations and keep your children busy at the same time. Some ideas are paper chains from last year’s wrapping paper, paper angels or spray painted pine cones.
  • Christmas lunch often involves several roasts and a whole lot of veggies, with some pudding thrown in. Maybe try something less traditional, such as a braai or picnic, where you can get away with cooking and eating less.
  • Plus, this way you won’t have to spend much of Christmas day in the hot kitchen.
  • Get everyone to contribute to lunch. You can ask others to bring salads, desserts, champagne, serviettes and any other goodies that you’ll need.

Don’t forget to make exercise part of the holiday fun.

Staying ahead

  • Start saving now for next year’s Christmas. Put aside some money every month of the year towards a Christmas fund.
  • If you see something at a good price, even if it is in March, buy it and hide it away until Christmas.

Here’s hoping you find some ideas that work for you and that you have a very merry Christmas on a budget.

Read more about how to have an eco-friendly green Christmas and five fun and crafty Christmas-related things for children to make and bake.

Child magazine