We don’t want to scare you, Babyologists, but did you know that Christmas is just around the corner ? Eeeek! Santa’s not the only one who should be making a list and checking it twice.
Christmas is always a big deal in our house – the anticipation and nerves from the kids about whether or not they’ll make Santa’s good list (yes, some years it’s been touch and go!), making their own wish lists, decorating the tree, carols, Christmas catch ups with friends, planning the big all-in family lunch and, of course, the absolute magic of Christmas morning when my trio wake up and discover that Santa’s been.
How to save without losing your Christmas spirit
But all that festive cheer doesn’t come cheap. So we’ve put our Babyology heads together to come up with the definitive list for having a very merry Christmas without any post-Christmas money meltdowns.
- Make a budget – and stick to it! Work out how much you will spend on each present for relatives and friends, and their kids, and start keeping your eye out for gifts that fit your budget. Consider a Kris Kringle system for grown-ups, where everyone just buys for one other person. Start stashing away fun little stocking stuffers for your own kids too.
- Start a Christmas savings account. Squirrel some money aside each week and you’ll have more than enough for a giant turkey with all the trimmings by the time Christmas hits. If you can find $20 a week, that’s $440 to spend. Put aside $50 and you’ll have more than $1000 – that’s like all your Christmases coming at once!
- Buy one or two extra items with each week’s grocery shop, especially if you find them on special – soft drink, nibbles, sweets and the like. Another great idea is to buy a $10 supermarket giftcard at each visit. They’ll soon add up and you can use them at Christmas time. For a big all-in family lunch, get everyone to bring something.
- Shop the sales. All the big department stores are in toy sales through the year so you can pick up the latest toys at bargain prices, plus they’ll hold them for you on lay-by until Christmas Eve too. That takes care of any sticky-beaking from the kids.
- Check Pinterest for lots of homemade and DIY gift ideas to make for the neighbours, teachers, sports coaches, ballet teachers and anyone else your child might like to bestow a gift on. A home-baked treat of Christmas shortbread, cookies or fudge wrapped in some pretty paper and ribbon or twine is better than a mug or tea towel.
- Don’t bother with expensive decorations while your kids are small. Christmas trees are baby and toddler magnets and you don’t want to worry about tiny mitts grabbing fragile, hand-blown glass baubles. Ditto for children who are big enough to help decorate the tree. No matter how careful they’ll try to be, those exey decorations will break. Save the tears – yours and theirs – and stick with cheap fabric or plastic decorations for now.
- Better still, bust out some coloured paper and glue and put the kids to work making paper chains for the tree. They can draw, colour and cut out angels, baubles, Santas and any other manner of Christmas shapes too. Cotton wool balls for faux snow is always fun. Forget expensive Christmas wrapping paper that will only end up in the bin. Grab a stack of cheap butcher paper from a craft shop – Ikea also have it by the roll – carve a Christmas tree or candy cane from a potato and put the kids to work. Happy stamping!
- Most store-bought Christmas crackers are awful. Start saving your paper cardboard rolls and make your own. Fill with chocolates or little trinkets from $2 shops that you know the kids will like. Print off some jokes from the internet too and stuff them inside.
- This is the time to check your utility contracts, if they are due for renewal, for any savings that can be made. Don’t be scared to ask for a bigger discount than what the gas or electric companies are offering – there’s always wiggle room.
- Check your insurance policies too and shop around. Don’t just habitually pay the renewal, call a few companies up and put them to the test because you can sometimes save big bucks.