10 easy steps to budget for Christmas

Author: Katy Beskow

Read Time:   |  7th December 2021

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Christmas comes but once a year – but so does the expense! Katy Beskow looks at ways to budget your money, and time, for the most magical Christmas ever

1. Set and Stick to your Christmas budget

Set a realistic budget for Christmas, including categories for gifting, parties, festivities, food and drink.

Even small expenses can all add up over the festive period, so accounting for these is important to avoid over-spending.

There is no right or wrong amount of money to spend on Christmas, but it is important to stick within your budget to avoid ending the year (and starting a new one) in debt. Avoid using credit cards, and spend only what you have budgeted for.

It’s also a good time to take stock of those loyalty points from high street retailers and put them to good use. If budgeting for this Christmas feels stressful, it’s time to start saving for Christmas next year (yes really!) so you avoid the worry again.

2. List it

Handwrite a gift list, or if you prefer, whip up a spreadsheet with the names of people you are gifting this Christmas.

Add columns for the budget for each gift, what you’ve purchased, and if it’s gift wrapped.

Having an easy-to-follow list and plan will help you to avoid any unnecessary purchases, as well as helping you plan your shopping time wisely during this busy season.

Person writing a list at Christmas

3. Spending Limit for gifts

Use your overall budget to determine how much money you are able and willing to spend on each gift.

It’s absolutely fine (and often welcomed) to set spending limits with friends and family who you gift reciprocally, perhaps agreeing on a spending limit of £10 or £20.

This helps eliminate any worry about gifting something less expensive than what you’ve received, but remember that it’s the thought that counts!

You may decide not to gift each other this year, and spend time together instead, doing something you love.

4. Secret Santa

If your gift list is unrealistically long, or you feel overwhelmed just from looking at it, consider a ‘Secret Santa’ with a friendship group, family, or in the workplace.

Set a spending limit, and put everyone’s name in the hat (physically or virtually), then take turns to select a name, keeping it a closely guarded secret!

Spending money on one thoughtful gift will reduce the financial and time costs this season, and in turn, you can put more effort into gifting that one item.

Some families decide to gift just the children instead of the families, which is another way to give without going over budget.

5. Give intentionally this Christmas

When gifting someone, really consider what they would like.

This doesn’t have to be an expensive present, but a gift that will make them smile.

Instead of settling for a generic toiletries set, or another pair of socks, consider capturing a special memory with a framed photograph, treating the person to a vegan meal-kit subscription, or joining them on an experience day.

Sometimes the best stuff isn’t stuff at all!

People laughing in Christmas pyjamas

6. Time it

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, and all the pre-Christmas sales between, timing buying can make a big difference to the cost.

Browse sales and deals, but be cautious that prices may fluctuate with different retailers.

Avoid unplanned impulse purchases just because they’re on sale, it costs more in the long run. If buying weeks in advance, ask for the retailer’s returns policy, and get a gift receipt for fuss-free returns.

7. Deck the halls

As shops fill the shelves with sparkly decorations, it’s hard not to bring home something to spread the magic, but it can reduce your budget.

Dust off the decorations you have and take stock, you’ve probably already got plenty to make a winter wonderland!

If you’ve budgeted for new decoration, buy sustainable Christmas stuff that will last a number of years, or wait for the post-Christmas sales, and store discounted decorations for next year.

8. Little by little

Food shopping takes up a hefty slice of the Christmas budget – and it’s not just the main Christmas dinner.

Think about the nuts, crisps, special vegan chocolates and toffees, vegan mulled wine, and dairy-free liqueur!

These items alone can add up to the cost of an extra weekly shop, so it’s a good idea to start purchasing these items in advance, week by week along with your usual grocery shopping.

A little extra over a number of weeks can help to spread the cost – just be sure to save (or hide) the treats for Christmas!

People at Christmas dinner

9. Potluck Christmas dinner

The responsibility of cooking a wonderful vegan Christmas dinner is an honoured one, but it can be stressful and expensive, especially if you are cooking for many guests.

Reduce the stress, and cost, by hosting a potluck, where each guest brings one item to the table.

It’s worth planning this week in advance to avoid last-minute requests, and keep a written plan of who is bringing what dish.

10. Budget your time this Christmas

Christmas parties, carol singing, nativities, shopping days… our December social calendars are jam-packed with festivities.

For many, these events are not only expensive on the bank balance, but can also have a negative impact on our mental health if we feel pressured to attend or feel like we are sacrificing our own time in ways that are not authentic to us.

This is your permission to say no – use your time intentionally, and be true to yourself this Christmas.

Looking for more festive inspiration?
Here’s our guide to making new traditions this Christmas

Written by

Katy Beskow

Katy Beskow is a cook, food writer and cookery tutor with a passion for good food and has been vegan for 15 years. Katy is the author of seven best-selling vegan cookbooks, including 15 Minute Vegan, Easy Vegan Bible, Vegan Roasting Pan, and Five Ingredient Vegan.

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