Thrifty Thursday: Christmas on a budget

Jamie, Kirstie, Delia, Heston… I love you all dearly. You spring up on our TVs, full of festive cheer, showing us what we could achieve… if we purchased this, if we crafted that, if we organised a piss up get together with friends – and ultimately you make our poor little purses look very, very empty.

Y’see Christmas is one of ‘those’ holidays. You know the ones where there’s lots of pressure on you to pull out all the stops. And those stops generally cost. I’m not one of those grumps who gives their friends and family a stocking containing a bag full of nuts and an orange, and moans incessantly about Christmas ‘becoming too commercialised’. No, in fact, ordinarily I like to live it up and spend, spend, spend to ensure everything coordinates and lives up to the expectation of traditions in my head.

Yep, usually there’s the bottle of Bailey’s, squirty cream and Cadbury’s Roses which we consume whilst putting the tree up. Then there’s the crackers to sit underneath said tree. The Christmas cards. The wrapping paper – with coordinating tags, naturally. The bottle of mulled wine. The Christmas get-together. The trip to the Frankfurt Christmas Market (in Birmingham, not the real thing).The Christmas CD. The Christmas DVD. The Christmas party outfit. The Christmas day outfit. The Christmas book…

As you can see, the list is virtually endless. This year I can’t afford all of this. As you know I’m out of work at the moment and while I’m not planning on being all Grinchy, there have been certain things which have had to go. I was miserable at first. I thought Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without, well, buying my way into the festive ideal. But I’ve discovered that if you ignore the media’s perception of perfection and you can still have a happy Christmas.

Here’s how I’ve economised…

  • TV Listings – It’s become tradition for me to buy the Radio Times Christmas edition. Not this year, instead I’ve purchased the local paper, at a measly 42p, I can still check what’s on TV over the festive period (not much), without the inflated price tag.
    Money spent: £0.42
  • Alcohol – Mulled wine, Bailey’s, wine. It all adds up! A quick cupboard search and I discovered I had a perfectly good bottle of Mulled Wine left over from last year. Bailey’s? There were some dregs which we drank whilst putting the tree up. Plus a sample sized Biscotti version. But for pressie wrapping I’ve raided the liqour cupboard and am working my way through the Amaretto instead (goes down lovely with a bit of milk). I’ve also discovered some Tia Maria hiding away, which is surprisingly nicer than I’d remembered. Wine to accompany Christmas dinner? Again, I’ve located some we’d already got, so that’s one less thing to buy.
    Money Spent: £0
  • Christmas Book – Last year I purchased Comfort and Joy by India Knight. Which I loved. This year I will be re-reading The Gift by Cecila Ahern which I have on my trusty bookshelf.
    Money Spent: £0
  • Christmas Music – I’ve played my Christmas compilation, purchased last year a couple of times. Otherwise the lovely Spotify is providing my seasonal dose of Buble.
    Money Spent: £0
  • Christmas Decos – We do have a habit of accumulating more and more decorations each year. This year we’ve not even looked at them. Save a cute shoe decoration which I spied (but resisted) in Paperchase.
    Money Spent: £0
  • Wrapping paper & tags – Again leftovers from last year, as are the crackers.
    Money Spent: £0
  • Cards – We never use a full box of Chrimble cards (or if we do we annoyingly use one-and-a-half boxes) which means we have lots of leftovers from previous years. We’ve mixed them up a bit and sent them out again. Is anyone really going to remember what card we sent to them two years ago? If they do, their attention to detail says more about them, than my thriftiness says about me.
    Money Spent: £0
  • Trip to the Christmas Market – yes, it’s lovely and very festive. But it’s the same every year and extremely busy. A year off will make us appreciate it all the more next year. Money Spent: £0
  • The Christmas DVD and the clothing are the areas I’m having most trouble compromising on. I sooo want to get me a copy of Muppet’s Christmas Carol, especially as Mr Love of my Life has never seen it – but that will have to wait until Christmas 2012. In terms of clothing? Not having a job, means I don’t need to worry about my outfit for the Christmas party, but I’m still not sure what I’m going to wear on the day itself. Eek! Money Spent: £0

What about you? Do you get caught up in the spending spree that is Christmas? Are you economising this year? If so, what are your top tips?


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