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4 ways to save money on Christmas holiday gifts

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After your second helping of nut roast, two heaping spoonfuls of stuffing and roast potatoes, and as much red wine as you can drink, your belly is certainly full. Your wallet, on the other hand?

Not so much.

If you’re already strapped for cash, or just looking to avoid the colossal catastrophe known worldwide as January’s credit card bill, here are four easy ways to save money on Christmas holiday gifts—without crossing the line from darling Tiny Tim to crotchety old Ebenezer Scrooge.

Hopefully you'll have a stress-free Christmas with these money-saving tips!

#1 Honey equals money

Download the money-saving miracle-worker Honey! Seriously, it’s that simple. Download it—like, now.

Whenever you buy gifts online (which you undoubtedly will), Honey will scan the internet for available discount codes.  From Look Fantastic, to Holland and Barrett, Jacamo and all sorts of popular UK websites.  If Honey finds a discount code then they’ll try and apply it to your basket at checkout to see if it works!

You’ll automatically save money wherever there’s money to be saved.

#2 Suggest a group gift exchange

Buying thoughtful Christmas gifts for all your friends can add up quickly—Sarah has crazy expensive taste and Beth is a real name-brand snob, plus Dominic never likes what you get him, anyway. And who has the time (or money) to buy each friend a good present?

This year, suggest a different kind of gift-giving: a group gift exchange!

There are two ways you can go about this fun friend-group activity (and who knows, it might even become your gang’s new tradition):

  • Go for the classic, tried-and-true Secret Santa! Write down everyone’s names on scrap paper and draw your recipient from a hat—or you can bring your celebration into the 21st century with an online Secret Santa name generator.
  • Decide on a White Elephant gift exchange (also known as Yankee Swap and Dirty Santa), where everyone brings a present with no intended recipient. Draw names to determine the order (and don’t forget to solidify the stealing rules before the games begin—otherwise, things could get ugly).  The first person opens a gift and the next get to decide if they want to steal that gift or unwrap another… and on it goes!

Don’t forget to set a price limit (something you’re actually comfortable with!). The whole point of suggesting this in favour of a gift-giving free-for-all is to make smarter spending choices, so say no way when Sarah suggests an astronomical budget.

#3 Plan ahead to capitalise on sales

It’s easy to plan on planning ahead, but a lot harder to actually, well, plan ahead.

But if you have the foresight to brainstorm well in advance, you’ll be able to make use of all those drool-worthy deals and sky-high sales.

Between Black Friday cookware deals, 12 Days of Christmas clothing campaigns, and Cyber Monday sneaker sales, there’s a bargain out there with your recipient’s name on it.

And hey, if you’re into planning really far in advance, you can always pick up some stellar gifts for next year during the massive blowouts immediately following the holidays—as long as you can keep a secret for that long!

#4 Priceless gifts (literally)

A new luxury watch for mum? £149.99. A Harry Potter Lego set for your little brother? £49.99. Giving your best friend something thoughtful (yet free)? Priceless.

You can do Christmas presents on a budget, or even no budget.

Here are a few zero (or very low) cost gifts that will still get a 10/10 approval rating:

  • Hone in on homemade gifts – Don’t paint a watercolour landscape if you’re a lousy painter or bake a hundred batches of candy cane fudge if your sweet treats end up more like hockey pucks, but find something crafty you excel at and put it to good use—Photoshop a series of photos of your friends with their celebrity crushes, knit winter hats for your nieces and nephews, or compile a heartfelt scrapbook with handwritten notes and memories throughout. Who doesn’t love a little DIY magic?
  • Love language: acts of service – Even when money’s tight, there’s one thing we all have: time (some more than others). If you’re time-rich but money-poor, offer up your services instead. Babysit your sister’s kids for free, deep clean your parents’ kitchen after the holiday frenzy, or run a few important errands for your busy friends who just can’t catch a break.
  • Explore the idea of experiential gifts – Some experiences are expensive—steer clear of skydiving, weekend getaways, and theme park passes, for sure—but others can be virtually free. Plan a fun day for you and a friend that involves outdoor activities or visiting a free museum, or create a romantic evening at home for your significant other complete with a lavish meal (with ingredients from the fridge), a relaxing bubble bath, and their favourite movie.

You don't have to overspend at Christmas to make your family and friends happy.  Another great money-saving tip is for you and your friends to agree to use reusable wrapping paper that can be shared and reused each Christmas to prevent waste and new wrap being bought - a cost-effective solution in the long term.

Money isn’t everything

Yes, your friends and family deserve the world (and then some), but you might not be able to give it to them this holiday season. Anyone who loves you any less for making handmade rather than store-bought holiday cards, or who turns their nose up at an inexpensive but thoughtful gift isn’t someone you need in your life.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll be cutting more than just expenses out of your life this year…