7 Tips to Plan for Christmas

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14th October 2020

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Do you feel like Christmas has come around earlier than normal? Our research shows that Christmas is a time of anxiety and financial stress and this year is no different. Given everything that is going on, discussing and planning for Christmas early could help to reduce the potential financial strain, while making Christmas 2020 one to remember for all the right reasons.

You may have started your shopping already. This is good and can help to spread the cost of the festive season. It’s important that you are keeping a list of what you have bought to add to your overall plan. Haven’t made a plan? Start one now – it is not too late to put a plan in place. To help with this, we have pulled together our Twelve Steps of Christmas Factsheet ↗ with planner.

Read on for tips and advice on how to make the most of the festive season.

  1. Make a list of what you need to buy for Christmas and use this to create a Christmas budget. Divide the list into five categories.
    1. Gifts
    2. Food
    3. Clothes
    4. Entertaining*
    5. Unexpected last-minute expenses
Use our Christmas planner (opens in new window) to help.
  • Prioritise – Add up the list. Is it a very large figure? If so, look at each individual item again to see how you can reduce the cost if you have a limited amount of money to spend, what could you cut from the list? Work your way through, numbering items in order of importance. It’s important to be honest with yourself. It is better that you limit your spending to the most important things on your list than to be stressed and suffering with anxiety as a result of over-spending.

  • Research your options - Where can you buy these items and how much do they cost. Check online and in stores for the best price. Remember, some of these items might be part of Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. Sign up to newsletters for websites where you can get the gifts, you may get a discount for signing up or notified when the gifts you need are on special offer.

  • Suggest a ‘Secret Santa’ to family and friends or use your hobbies and interests to make homemade decorations, gifts and baked goods. Some families that do a Secret Santa between couples and get a voucher for a local restaurant or similar. Doing this means that you're supporting local business and gives the couple a night out too, which they’ll remember!

  • Alternative to a ‘Secret Santa’, talk to friends and relatives about not exchanging gifts or setting spending limits, or spend time together instead (within public health guidelines). This can help as you may not be the only one struggling with the costs of purchasing gifts for everyone.

  • Covering the Costs - If you have been able to put aside some money during the year to meet the cost of Christmas, well done. Will it be enough to cover the costs you have planned for or do you need to save a bit more over the coming weeks? It’s just 10 weeks tomorrow (today is the 14th October) until Christmas Eve – so divide your planned budget by 10, or by the number of paychecks or social welfare payments (e.g. there's two Child Benefit payments left) you have between now and then. Only include income that you are 100% sure you will get before the Christmas holiday. For example, overtime and bonuses would be great to supplement the cost of Christmas, but not guaranteed.

  • Sensible Borrowing - If you have not been able to put aside any money, or if what you have saved is not enough, then you have a choice; either you reduce the money you intend to spend, until your savings can cover it, or you may decide to borrow. If you decide you need to borrow, check our factsheet for more details on what to consider before borrowing.

  • Top Tips

    Make memories. Get the kids involved and make learning fun. Instead of spending money on store bought cards or gifts, spend a day or two over a weekend to make Christmas cards or baked goods like cookies with the kids. Get everyone involved and send the homemade cards and gifts to family and friends.

    Planning ahead can mean that Christmas is manageable and enjoyable for everyone, including you. Start planning today by making out a list of what you need to plan for and a spending budget. Planning now will help to reduce financial surprises.

    Head over to our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages to share your Christmas saving tips.

    You can contact your local MABS office , chat through our live chat or call the MABS Helpline on 0761 07 2000, Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm or you can check the MABS News Feed for further updates and guidance.