Christmas on a budget

The excitement of Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier with adverts and shops marketing their products before bonfire night and even Halloween. The children get more and more excited knowing Christmas is just around the corner.  

Unfortunately, for many families, Christmas can be a time of dread and worry. With presents and food to buy, and guests to entertain, lots of families can really feel the financial pinch at this time of year. Knowing how to plan a Christmas on a budget may help ease some of the concerns you have.  We have prepared some tips that you may find helpful.  

Food and drink

  • Try to plan ahead and buy only what will realistically be eaten. Think about what normally gets thrown away, make a plan, and stick to it when you go shopping. Shop around and use local markets to find the best value products. 
  • Check out affordable supermarket offers and shop in advance where possible. 
  • Find coupons and vouchers and use them where you can.
  • Make food last longer by wrapping up your leftovers and putting them in the fridge for the next day.
  • Remember that the shops are only closed for one day. You don’t have to fill every available space in your cupboards and fridge, and can always top up on Boxing Day if you run out of anything.


  • Make a list of all the people you need to buy gifts for, to help you budget in advance
  • Set a spending limit for gifts and stick to it
  • Consider asking the wider family to agree to spending limits too – remember it’s the thought that counts, and it can be really fun to see what kinds of gifts people come up with on a budget
  • If it is traditional to buy for the wider family members, perhaps arrange a secret Santa so that each family member only has to buy one gift.Shop around for bargains in advance - you can often find great value online if you plan ahead
  • Search your local discount for any additional stocking fillers
  • Think about making gifts like food or craft ideas that you can make in bulk and distribute. Even a framed photo can make a perfect gift for grandparents


  • Get the children involved in helping to make decorations.
  • If your decorations are looking tired from over use, give them a bit of sparkle with art and crafts, glitter and glue.
  • Consider making your own crackers - fill them with things you really want rather than the usual dust collectors.
  • Wreaths can be fun to make – all you need is a wire coat hanger, a bit of ivy or holly, and some ribbon to decorate it.
  • If you want to send Christmas cards, have a look in local discount stores and charity shops for good value. Make a list in advance so you know how many you want to send.

It is important that Christmas is not really about who got what and how much it cost, it is about spending time with loved ones and appreciating family life.  However, this can also be a time of families spending more time with each other than they are normally used to.  This can create conflict too.  Please read our tips on surviving Christmas for advice.

Further resources

If you would like further support and advice, call our helpline on 0808 800 2222 or email us at You can talk to us online via our live chat service, which is open, Monday to Friday between 10.30am and 9pm. You may find it helps to find out how other parents and carers have coped with this on our online forums. We also have a range of free online parenting courses that can help through the ages and stages of parenting. 

Becoming a parent

Online Course

Health and wellbeing

  • 6-18 months – From first tooth to first steps

    Being a new parent can be isolating – but there’s no need to be lonely. Getting out and about with your baby and meeting others builds a strong support network which can last through and beyond your baby’s pre-school years