Although it may seem a little bit early to start talking about Christmas now, I can assure you that the festive season will soon be upon us before we all know it.

We’re all aware of what a significant expense Christmas can be for some, especially if you’ve got children, a large family or even if you’re planning to go away over the Christmas period. Last year, in 2017, YouGov reported that the average family in the UK spent around £751 on Christmas, and it doesn’t just come from nowhere.

In order to cover the costs of this expensive time of year, it’s a good idea to start implementing a budget and saving money as soon as you can. If you want to ensure that you’ve got enough money this holiday period, and want to know all the best ways to save money on your Christmas shopping, then carry on reading for our advice on how to make sure that Christmas 2018 is an excellent time for you, your friends and family.

Make a list of expenses

In order to be able to set yourself a realistic Christmas budget to save, it’s essential to work out how much you’ll need to cover the costs of everything needed. That’s why the first thing you should do is write out a list of all of your essential holiday expenses, which should include the following:

Food & drink –

This is an important one. It’s a good idea to write a list of all the food and drink that you’ll need over Christmas. This should not only include food and beverages for Christmas day but should also include food and drinks for any parties you may be having and even for Christmas Eve and Boxing day. As many supermarkets will be closed or working on reduced hours over the Christmas period, so it’s an excellent initiative to stock up on all the things you’ll need to avoid any chaotic Christmas food shopping.

Gifts –

Try not to leave all of your present planning to the last minute, and instead try to think ahead and plan gifts for your friends and family as soon as you can. Although this can be difficult, and you’ll have to put a lot of thought into your present list, it will also help you to come up with a realistic Christmas budget that you’ll be able to stick to as well as giving you enough time to find the best deals on your gifts in preseason sales and discounts.

Travel –

Even if you’re not going overseas this Christmas, it’s still essential to account for any travelling that you may be doing. If you’re travelling to a relative who lives a car journey away, then you may also want to consider for the petrol or diesel money that you’ll have to spend to get there and back. Or if you’re travelling home from University and need train or coach fare home, it’s a good idea to account for that and put some money aside or book your tickets at the earliest convenience to ensure that you get the cheapest tickets.

Needless to say, if you are travelling anywhere to spend Christmas overseas, then your plane fare should be one of the most crucial things that you should account for in your budget. Ideally you should book your tickets as soon as possible, so you know how much you’ll have to pay out. You should also consider accommodation costs unless you are staying with friends or relatives.

Additional costs or expenditure –

If you have any bills or expenses that you may need to pay over the Christmas period, such as car insurance fees, heating bills or maybe a loved one’s birthday coming up, then account for any bills or expenses that you’ll have to pay over Christmas.

Set yourself a reasonable budget

After working out a list of all your essential expenses for the Christmas period, your next step is to set yourself a budget or a goal amount to save before Christmas rolls around. You should always account for a little bit extra in the case of rainy days or anything that you’ve forgotten on your essentials list and start saving as soon as you can. The sooner you start saving, the easier saving money will be for you. For instance, if your budget is £1,000, then you can achieve your budget in just 5 months by saving £200 per month, or if you start even earlier you could have your Christmas spending money in 10 months by putting away a small amount of just £100 per month, it is beneficial to begin saving as soon as you possibly can.

Set up a Christmas savings account

If you’re saving up money throughout the year or even just for a couple of months towards the end of the year, then it’s a good idea to open up a savings account. Although the interest you manage to rack up won’t be anything spectacular, it’s always handy to keep an eye on your savings to see how much you’ve accumulated, and you’ll diminish the temptation or accidental spending if it isn’t in your current account.

That’s why when it comes to you opening a savings account, whether you do it online or in person at your local branch, you should opt not to have a debit card for your savings account, as it may be easy to start spending your savings. If you feel the need to get a debit card for the account when you start your Christmas shopping, then you can always request a card closer to the time you’ll be buying your gifts and groceries.

Use rewards cards

When doing your Christmas shopping, there are many ways in which you can get exactly what you need without compromising; and rewards cards are an excellent way to do this. Points and rewards cards such as Nectar (which can be used across over 500 UK brands online and in store) and Boots Advantage cards are some of the very best. All you have to do is remember to take your points card with you and collect your points throughout the year, or even just in the run-up to Christmas; that way you’ll be able to acquire enough points that will allow you to receive discounts or money off the products you buy.

Do secret Santa at work

If you’ve got a large office or a lot of work friends, you’ll want to make sure that everyone has a present without being left out, but obviously, you can’t afford to buy everyone in your office a gift, as much as you like everyone, so what do you do?

Why not suggest doing a secret Santa at your work to ensure that everyone gets a present and that way you’ll only have to buy a gift for one person. Although we can’t assure you that there won’t be any funny or embarrassing presents though, you’ll have to judge the sense of humour of people in your office.

To do a secret Santa, you and all your work colleagues who want to be involved must a agree on a budget, then write down everyone’s name and put it in a hat. Everyone in your office will then take turns to each retrieve a name from the hat and whoever’s name you pull from the hat you must buy a gift for. Pick a date close to Christmas and all hand out your presents and try to guess who bought who’s, have fun!

Utilise 3 for 2 offers

When it comes to Christmas shopping, a lot of online and high street retailers will be offering sales and discounts in the run down to Christmas. Although it is essential to make sure you stick to your budget, it’s always helpful to check out what deals and offers that have in store and online for customers.

One of the better deals that companies do are 3 for 2 offers across a variety of different gifts, and if you want to save money, then this deal can be an excellent option for you; and we can tell you how to make the most of it.

3 for 2 offers generally work out that you get the cheapest item out of the three for free, now this is a great deal in itself. However, the best way to utilise this offer is to make sure that all of your items in your 3 for 2 offers are the same or around about the same price, that way you’ll make a better saving, and it’s as simple as that!

Flash sales and deals of the day

As you’ll already be aware, in the run-up to Christmas you’re bound to see lots of sales on, some of the best are of course Black Friday, which takes place on Friday the 23rd of November and Cyber Monday, which takes place on Monday the 26th of November this year. Although the trend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday started in America after the American holiday of Thanksgiving, the trend has made it across the pond, meaning that many Brits can now also enjoy these sales as well.

Sales such as Cyber Monday, Black Friday and deals of the day sales are the perfect opportunity for you to go searching for any expensive presents that are already on your Christmas present list at a discounted price. So, if you know that your significant other wants that camera for Christmas and it’s in the cyber Monday sale, then why not get it at a discounted price and save yourself some money?

However, you must be careful not to buy items that seem like a great deal but aren’t on your Christmas list, as this can be a dangerous game to play and you are likely to go over your budget.

Book your flights early

A lot of people travel overseas over Christmas whether it’s to go home, visit relatives or even to have some time away from the Christmas chaos, a lot of people travel at Christmas.

Flights can be a considerable expense, especially if you leave it to the last minute to book your tickets. Although Christmas time is always set to be a busy one and will generally cost you a little bit more than other months to fly somewhere. That’s why it’s always recommended to book your flights around 5 – 8 weeks in advance if you can. Also, you’ll always find that it’s generally cheaper to fly on a Tuesday as opposed to any other day of the week, so keep that in mind!

Don’t get caught up in the Christmas post

Although this may be the last point we make here, it’s hardly the least important point that we’re about to make. Every year online retailers get hundreds of thousands and in a lot of cases millions of orders. Meaning that many retailers, as well as royal mail workers, are put under a tremendous amount of stress during this time period, as they struggle not to get swamped under by the hundreds of thousands of orders they have to deliver.

Due to this backlog, a lot of presents can get either lost or stuck at the depot over the Christmas holiday period, meaning that thousands of disappointed customers don’t have their parcels delivered in time. If you want to ensure you get all your Christmas presents in time, it is crucial that you don’t get caught up in the Christmas post and instead order all your online gifts and send all your Christmas cards well in advance.