On the one hand, there’s a sense of excitement. The shops are buzzing, there are sales everywhere and you get to spend some time picking out the absolutely perfect gift to make those special people’s faces light up on Christmas day. On the other hand, it’s busy, crowded and stressful. What will you buy? Will there even be any of the super blaster water guns left by the time you’ve fought through the crowds to your nephew’s toy store of choice? And most of all, will you be able to afford it? For many, Christmas is a very tough time financially, particularly if you have a large family or there are certain expectations that you feel pressured to live up to.
With a bit of pre-planning and financial savvy though, you can have a magical Christmas without breaking the bank. Use these tips to prove that Christmas on a shoestring doesn’t have to mean stale bread for lunch and socks for everyone under the tree!
Write a list
A list helps you to avoid falling into the trap of unnecessary impulse spending, and make sure you don’t have an ‘oh no!’ moment where you realise you’ve forgotten a gift for someone and have to buy an expensive last-minute gift to make up for it.
The list should contain the names of everyone you plan to buy a gift for, no matter how big or small, as well as the maximum spending limit for each person. Remember to include anyone who you’ll give tips to, such as a babysitter or au pair, garbage disposal men or any other workers or casual staff you might want to gift over the festive season. If you do underspend on anyone, you can decide whether to keep that money aside for other expenses or whether to reallocate it to another person on your list and up the spending for that person.
Go through your home
Christmas is often a tough time, but if you’re really struggling this year then you can help your budget along by sorting through your home and doing one of three things; selling unused items, re-gifting them, or repurposing them.
If, for instance, you have a lot of old school textbooks, clothes, decorative items or old technology that you no longer use, you may be able to sell them online and get small amounts for each item. If you have ten or twenty items though, the amounts can quickly add up. Secondhand book stores will often pay a small amount for old books, many Facebook groups (such as Second Hand and Second Hand Johannesburg) are dedicated to selling pre-loved clothes and beauty products, and OLX and Gumtree are always good bets for furniture, old phones or games consoles and even garden equipment, older toys and bicycles and miscellaneous stuff.
Another option is to use items you already own to re-gift. Perhaps you have a nice bottle of wine or champagne but you don’t really drink much? That could be a great gift for a family member or friend. Or maybe you bought a lovely top a year ago but it doesn’t quite fit or you haven’t worn it. If it still has tags on, or has been unworn, this is another gift that will cost you nothing but could be very well received. The same goes for ornaments, homeware, jewellery and even boxes of chocolates or cookies.
Your final ‘free’ gifting option is to repurpose or upcycle your possessions. This requires a bit of creativity and sometimes some craft skills, so may not be for everyone. If you are a naturally artistic person though, you can save some major bucks this way. Some ideas:
- A picture frame with broken could make a great earring or bracelet stand just by running some wire across the frame and hanging jewellery on it.
- Broken mugs, plates or pots can be used to make a mosaic on a plain garden pot or bird bath. Just use strong glue to stick them to an old pot in a pretty mosaic pattern. You could even use the broken ceramics to stick on to plain Christmas baubles for something uniquely festive.
- Play guitar? Those strings can make a beautiful bracelet for men or women if they’re weaved together and secured with a clasp and a bead or charm of your choice. Even if you don’t play yourself, pretty much any guitarist will give their old broken strings away with no qualms.
- Got an ancient suitcase that doesn’t work anymore? Fix the legs of an old table (find one at a scrapyard) on to it and you’ll have a vintage stool or table that will make a great focus piece for someone’s lounge or bedroom.
We’re not saying you have to brave absurdly long queues to get your festive season fix, but do make a point of keeping your eyes open for good deals. If you’re an avid internet user you can often find items on discounts of up to 80%. This works best if you keep Christmas in mind throughout the year, but even in the run up to the festive season, there are good deals to be found – you just need to be eagle-eyed and check regularly.
With these tips, you should be able to have a wonderful Christmas without breaking the bank.