10 Cost Cutting Tips for Christmas

Now the autumn equinox has come and gone it is time to start preparing for Christmas ( and Thanksgiving for our friends in the USA). It can be an expensive time for families and in the present straitened economic climate keeping the Christmas spirit alive and the bank balance healthy requires forward planning. In two words -START NOW!

Tip No 1

Make a list of people that you wish to buy a present and a note of the likes and dislikes and the amount you can afford to pay. Also make a list of Christmas card recipients for both physical and e-cards.

Tip No 2

Decide on the menu, whether it will be the traditional turkey and all the trimmings or something alternative and the number of guests who will share the feast with you and then make a list of all the ingredients you will need.

Tip No 3

Always take your shopping list with you when going shopping. Most stores have discounted offers way before Christmas and if the item is non perishable buy it while on offer.

Tip No 4

Look out for 3 for the price of 2 or BOGOF (buy one get one free) offers and if anything appeals and you only need one, canvass your friends and family to join you so both of you save money.

Tip No 5

Visit the local farmers market and buy the fresh vegetables you will need (if you haven't been growing your own) and some cooking apples. When you get home prepare them for cooking then place them in containers (be sure to label and date them) and put them in the freezer.Prepare and cook the apples for apple sauce and then freeze them also. Be sure and order any meat from the butcher or local farmer in good time so that you can pick it up fresh just before the big day.

Tip No 6

If you are having the traditional Christmas cake make it about 1 month before , don't forget to marinate the mixed fruit for 24 hours in sherry or whisky (teetotallers will, of course, miss out this step). Two weeks before Christmas cover the cake in marzipan and let it stand for a week before icing it. If you do not wish to marinate the fruit in alcohol you may pierce the base with a skewer and put in a few drops of brandy essence.

Tip No 7

Pine cones make excellent decorations for the house and the tree. The can be sprayed in gold, silver or white and look especially seasonal when sprinkled with glitter while still wet.Holly and ivy look great when wrapped round a wire base to form a wreath for the door or a centre piece for the table. Flickering candles (battery operated) in the windows and on ledges look welcoming and are completely safe.

Tip No 8

The kids love this one! Gift wrap paper can be easily made at home using lining wallpaper and decorating with homemade stencils (stars, angels shapes, christmas trees etc ) and then the cut outs can also be used in reverse - place them on the paper and spray over them . Another way to decorate is by cutting a potato in half , cutting away part to leave a simple motif (e.g star) raised which then can be used to stamp designs on the paper using poster paints. Gift tags can be made by using scraps cut from the previous year's cards and a couple of strands of coloured silk thread attached to tie it to the parcel.

Tip No 9

Write your physical cards and make sure any that are going overseas are posted by the last date to ensure arrival before Christmas. Local cards can be delivered by hand or in some cases by the local scout group, at a cheaper rate, nearer to Christmas and of course e-cards can be sent alot later .

Tip No 10

Always have a small gift wrapped and ready to give to unexpected visitors. I have found that a selection of 3 or 4 small pots of homemade jam in a christmas box accompanied by some homemade shortbread are always acceptable. Another gift (especially if money is very tight) is to offer your services babysitting, gardening, ironing or whatever your special skills are for a set number of hours. I know that this is not as exciting as opening a present but when I received such a gift I was delighted and spent some precious 'me' time by getting my water colours out of the drawer and starting to paint again. Sheer enjoyment and no guilty feelings!

I hope that these tips may be useful and take some of the stress out of the festive season, after all we are meant to enjoy the peace and goodwill - things that money cannot buy.













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