Christmas is just around the corner now and this time of year can feel like the amount of money you sink into it has a direct correlation to how enjoyable it will be. With a higher average quality of life than even as little as 50 years ago, the attitude towards festivities has changed somewhat. In this blog we are going to cover some money saving tips that don’t take away any of the festive cheer that we’re used to.

Christmas Shopping.
Although a lot of people will have started their Christmas shopping and maybe even finished it by now – tip one is to plan Christmas around your budget. It is a simple concept really but often overlooked just the same. If you have a family and friends to buy gifts for then a feeling of obligation could arise, meaning you might fall victim to overspending because of guilt. Some may find this to be in poor taste so try and guess whether it will be well received before committing, but one quick workaround could be some IOU cards. Christmas is a time of gift giving but that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to gift throughout the rest of the year. Let your loved ones know that you fully intend on gift giving, but the timing may be a little less than traditional. If you’re more interested in the pageantry and hosting aspects of Christmas (ask yourself why firstly), consider cutting the gift buying budget all together and instead volunteering to host Christmas celebrations. Many people would be relieved to hear that someone is going to take care of everything on the big day and you could argue that doing so, is in itself, a priceless gift. If you still need or want to buy gifts but are struggling to raise the cash, then appeal to the compassion of your gift receivers and split the money you do have to spend evenly in between them. This works on two levels: If you have £100 to split between 5 people then that’s a £20 gift each. Now, consider 2 of the people say “I do appreciate the gesture, but you don’t need to buy me a gift.” The remaining 3 now have just over £30 each for their gift, and the spirit of Christmas would rejoice at the good will of people.

Christmas Celebrations.
If you don’t want to be in the awkward position of choosing who to leave out on gift giving this year, then consider not gift giving at all. Although it may not seem like it, people celebrating Christmas are actually in the minority of the global population, with an estimated 45% of the world’s population celebrating the holiday. It may also be quite a liberating experience and deciding not to take part in the “retail festival” will likely become a more accepted thing in the future. Christmas traditions are constantly changing in this regard – consider “The Lord of Misrule” which was a Christmas tradition within medieval courts in which the Jester of the court would be appointed as the Lord of Misrule and would be able to lay down ridiculous laws during Christmastide. In fact a number of traditions have been dropped over time for being unfeasible or unsafe, but it can’t be denied that these traditions brought people joy and pulled communities together at a time where the common folk had very little in the way of money and possessions. Maybe that is the real message that we should all be taking away from the past, as we move forwards into a more difficult future.

Make the most of Sales.
Sales are a big part of the festive season. Black Friday is certainly ideal for picking up a few bargains before Christmas, but you may find the deals have dropped in quality, due to the popularity of the commercial event. Now bargains are usually placed on expensive items, making them slightly cheaper but still expensive, as doing so maintains the illusion that you’re getting a good deal even though you’re still putting down a hefty payment. Unfortunately some of the best sales can come after Christmas is over, but there’s no harm in a gift coming a few weeks after Christmas in order to save some money. Although it is worth keeping in mind that the items placed on sale in January sales tend to be somewhat less popular, as it is a symptom of retailers having a surplus of less popular items remaining from the festive period. It is somewhat more of a gamble to wait while after Christmas to get an item that may not even be reduced and as a personal recommendation, would advise using the January sales in order to purchase products that are more likely to have utility. E.g. new kitchenware, soft furnishings, tools, outdoor gear and so on. These kinds of items are usually quite niche gifts and not something you’d get someone without knowing that it’s what they want, but if there is an opportunity to take advantage of the sale then definitely take it.

Handmade Gifts.
If all else fails then handmade gifts could be the way to go. They tend to step up the sentimentality value of gifts, more so than the typical Christmas gifts of soap and socks. You also have the added benefit of giving yourself something to keep busy with, during a sometimes emotionally taxing time of year – especially if money is becoming a worry. These kinds of things aren’t a “one size fits all” kind of gift, which could complicate things a bit depending on what you create and how well you know the person you’re gifting for. So as a rule of thumb it’s probably best to keep these things for close friends and family – Janine from the office might not really know how to take being gifted a hand-carved Kuksa. The upside to these kinds of gifts is they can even be made without spending a penny, depending on how far you are willing to go with sourcing your own materials. 

Consider this as an idea:
You know someone who enjoys the outdoors and going for a walk. You could spend a lot of money to get them some walking boots, maybe a nice raincoat or hiking pack. Any of those would be relevant, get some use and probably be genuinely appreciated. Now compare that to a hand carved and engraved walking stick. Already an impressive gift, even if they didn’t need an aid for their hiking. It could also be achieved with something as simple as a knife from the kitchen drawer if you put enough time into it. Or you could really go above and beyond with this – Keep an account of your process in making the walking stick, keep a diary of your time spent working on the item. You could even go as far as to write up some directions as to where you originally found the stick that has now been turned into a gift. It may sound corny at first but keep in mind that there are wealthy and eccentric people who would pay a sizable amount of cash for something as simple as a photo of the tree that their wooden table was made from – and you can repeat the same effect for nothing more than a time investment.

We hope these tips can help you make the most of the festive season and maybe even look at it with a new perspective. Merry Christmas from all of us at B2W Group & Back2Work Complete Training!

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