How To Afford Christmas When You’re Skint

How to afford Christmas when you’re skint as Christmas is a time for giving

It is also a time for family bonding and – for many people – a time for excessive spending. There are lots of things to spend money on at Christmas including presents, food and decorations. For those that are already financially struggling, affording it all can be a real challenge.



Christmas is a time for giving, a time for family bonding and – for many people – a time for excessive spending. There are lots of things to spend money on at Christmas including presents, food and decorations. For those that are already financially struggling, affording it all can be a real challenge.

If you’re currently broke and wondering how you’re going to financially manage Christmas, here are a few tips that could help.

Should you take out a loan?

Borrowing money to afford Christmas isn’t ideal, but if money is tight it could be the best solution. Consider a short term loan – this will ensure you pay off your debts as soon as possible so that you’re not still making repayments when next year’s Christmas comes around. There are short term loans for bad credit that you can consider. Be prepared to make some cutbacks in January so that you can pay off your loans more easily.

Taking out a loan could be preferential to using a credit card to pay for Christmas. It’s easy to lose track of costs when you’re paying by plastic and high credit card bills are no ho-ho-hoing matter.  

How to save money on gifts

The giving and receiving of guests is a big part of Christmas. Don’t be afraid to warn people that you may not be able to buy anything big this year. Kids are likely to be the big focus – it’s here that you’ll likely be spending the most on gifts and you should prioritise the bulk of your gift-buying budget here.

There are a few different tricks for spending less on Christmas gifts. Here are just a few moneysaving methods:

Shop second hand

You may be able to pick up cheap gifts such as clothes and toys by shopping second hand. Charity shops are often a good place to pick up deals and it could be worth taking a browse around these stores.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of places online to buy cheap used items. Facebook’s marketplace and sites like Gumtree are fantastic for picking up cheap second hand items locally. You can often pick up some real steals and you can skip the cost and hassle of delivery. Make sure to always check the condition of these items thoroughly before buying.

Take advantage of coupons and sales

Coupons and sales can be a way of saving money on new items from the stores. There are many deals to be had in the lead up to Christmas, but you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled.

Black Friday gets a lot of hype, but it isn’t always the best time for deals. One item that is almost always cheaper is electronics – it’s a great time for shopping for items like tablets, wearable tech and TVs. For most other items, it’s largely a marketing gimmick and you’ll get cheaper deals throughout the year.

Take advantage of coupon sites as early as possible to get some of the best discounts. Coupons tend to have tight restrictions over the Christmas period – you may only be able to use them in certain stores on certain days. In other words, always read the small print.

Buy joint presents

When buying big gifts for kids, consider buying joint gifts that two or more kids can share. As well as encouraging sharing, it will lower overall costs by not having to buy individual big gifts.

Similarly you can get multiple people to chip in to reduce the cost of large presents. Rather than letting grandparents and aunts and uncles struggle with gift ideas, ask them to contribute some money towards big gifts.

Make your own gifts

If you’re DIY-savvy, making your own gifts could be a cheap option. A few examples could include crafting jewellery, knitting winterwear or assembling a photo album/collage. It could allow you to create something personalised and unique and the work you’ve put into it is certain to be appreciated.


Many of us get given gifts that we don’t want or need such as luxury toiletries, candles and novelty gifts. Consider regifting these to people (they could be perfect for friends and relatives of whom you haven’t got any ideas or people you may not know very well). Just make sure you don’t regift these items to the people that originally bought them for you!

What about Christmas dinner?

Another big expense at Christmas is of course dinner. This is something that isn’t easy to prepare for in advance without freezing food for months (which can take away some of the flavour). However, there are still ways to save money.

Cook from scratch

Cooking from scratch is more work, but it will usually save you money. You’ll find cheap tasty recipes online for homemade Christmas pudding, homemade gravy and homemade roast potatoes. You can prepare these on Christmas eve if you don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen on Christmas day. Don’t be afraid to get friends and family involved too.

Price compare supermarkets online

For items like turkey and sprouts, use online comparison sites like MoneySupermarket to compare each supermarket’s prices. This could allow you to shop around each supermarket to find the best deals on each ingredient. Don’t leave this too late, otherwise food will disappear off the shelves.

Let someone else host Christmas

This is the obvious way to save money on Christmas. If you’re always the host, it could be time for someone else to cook dinner. You can still chip in a few ingredients, but you won’t have to buy everything.

What about decorations?

No Christmas is complete without decorations. Some people go crazy on tinsel, lights and animatronic glowing snowmen. Don’t feel you have to compete with these neighbours – embrace a more minimal Christmas. A touch of tinsel and a fairy light here and there may be all you need. As for the rest of the items, there are ways to save money.

Make your own decorations

There are plenty of DIY decorations that are cheap to make. The include paper snowflakes and paper mâché baubles. You can even use elements of nature as decorations such as twigs, pine cones, holly and fir branches. You’ll find plenty of sites online detailing how to make DIY Christmas decorations.

Buy a plastic tree

Some people can’t do Christmas without a real tree. If you’re on a tight budget, it could be time to leave this tradition behind. A fake tree has lots of advantages – it’s cheaper, less messy and potentially more sustainable. Whilst you have to chuck away a real tree once you’ve used it, a plastic tree can be used year after year. Which leads onto the next money-saving tip…

Prepare early for next year

Preparing for Christmas early allows you to spread out the cost throughout the year. October may be too late to start planning, but this is always useful advice for next year. Here are just a few individual tips:

Set up savings

Saving up money throughout the year could be one way of preparing for Christmas. The average Brit spends around £1000 on Christmas – although using tips from this guide it can be done for less than £500. By saving £10 a week starting in January, you could have enough to cover it. A high interest savings account could even allow you to make some money on top.

Buy gifts in sales throughout the year

Another strategy is to simply buy gifts throughout the year. These are the biggest cost of Christmas and you can often find great deals throughout the year that can save you some serious money. Some people start shopping in the January sales or may even start shopping as early as Boxing day to take advantage of huge price slashes. The likes of this guide on the best times of the year to buy items could be worth a read for getting the best deals.

Use this year’s decorations next year

You’d be mad to buy new decorations each year. Keep this year’s decorations in a safe place so that you can recycle them next year. You can always add a couple new items each December (or buy them in January when they can be a quarter of the price).

Remember the true meaning of Christmas

With all this in mind, it’s important to remember that you can still have an enjoyable Christmas without spending lots of money. You don’t have put up decorations or prepare a whole Christmas roast if you don’t want to. You don’t even have to buy people gifts. There are so many free activities that can allow you to experience the spirit of Christmas including playing board games with family and friends, going on an evening walk to see the Christmas lights or simply spending the whole day snuggled up on the sofa watching Christmas movies.

 *How to afford Christmas when you’re skint is a collaborative post

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  1. 17/10/2019 / 14:43

    Hi Claire!
    Last year i couldn’t celebrate Christmas with my parents but this year i will do. But i was worried about money to make my Christmas day Perfectly. I read your post that will help me to save money from now and got some idea about budget-friendly costs. I will follow your suggestions when I go for buying a gift. Thanks

  2. A S,Edinburgh
    19/10/2019 / 23:05

    Great suggestions, thank you. It’s worth talking frankly to people in your life about your situation regarding Christmas spending. You never know, others may be struggling too, and really appreciate someone raising the subject.

  3. Justine Meyer
    03/11/2019 / 14:41

    Some great tips here which will help as we are having a skint Christmas this year

  4. Nadia Josephine
    03/11/2019 / 18:16

    This year we set budgets so we knew how much to spend and although it might seem to take away the magic I think we all know the important thing is to be together and make memores

  5. Shelley Jessup
    05/11/2019 / 01:59

    Christmas costs us a fortune but we do decorate the whole house & keep buying new decorations for new places in the house every year. I have to have the table dressed so that is expense & the we like the best of the best when it comes to food & drink but I try my best to get presents through out the year especially for other people than my immediate family so then my family can enjoy the Christmas spends & then they are a little more personal to us. We haven’t always had Christmases like this though, there was a good few years that we could only buy presents second hand from car boots or charity shops. So we certainly appraite what we can afford to do atm.

  6. Katrina Adams
    12/11/2019 / 11:08

    Love some of these tips. Christmas doesn’t have to cost the Earth, but I think people feel a lot of pressure to keep up with the Jones more so at this time of year than any other. I look forward to putting some of these tips into action.

  7. Kim Styles
    12/11/2019 / 16:47

    My children are teenagers now so there are four adults. We have made a pact that each of us buy just two presents each for everyone else so that means everyone gets 6 presents aside from ones from the aunties uncles etc. They wont be big presents but thoughtful ones and they can discuss what each other should get for someone. We do not pay out stupid money at Christmas as we think paying out for special cards , expensive wrapping paper , colour coordinated Christmas trees etc just commercial hype and materialistic. We like the old decorations made by the children, they are worth so much more that a host of matching gold baubles and we have an old Christmas table cloth that comes out year after year that the children remember from when they were little, along with homemade centre pieces . That’s what makes Christmas. the family, the reason we celebrate, and making memories.

  8. Fiona jk42
    12/11/2019 / 23:08

    We’re on a tight budget, so I start buying gifts early in the year to spread the cost. I also try to make some of my gifts, such as crocheted cardigans for my granddaughter.

  9. Mary D
    02/12/2019 / 21:15

    I agree with the commenter who suggested being open with family and friends about your budget, that can really help take the pressure off you. It can also lead on to people asking you what would be the best present for you too, which can mean you’re not seething quietly about them having spent money you could have made better use of elsewhere. It is harder when you haven’t a lot of, or any, spare cash because you have to plot and plan to be able to do as well as you can while also being resolute about not wanting what just can’t be afforded. Those who do celebrate without blowing their budget, whatever its size, are the ones who’ll be better off in the new year to come and they’ll have honed their skills which can only help with whatever comes next and you know there’s always going to be something.

  10. Debbie Dale
    15/12/2019 / 16:10

    I try and buy a few presents in the sales and spread the buying out.

  11. Emma England
    17/12/2019 / 06:31

    Good tips! Buying things when they are in the sale for Christmas regardless of the time of year is a good idea.

  12. Dawn Samples
    18/12/2019 / 22:01

    I am behind with my Christmas shopping and don’t have loads to spend so I’m looking for ways to get it all done on a budget x

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