Money Means guides are brought to you by FSCS, the people who protect your money from £1 up to £85,000 in UK banks, building societies and credit unions. Find out more.
According to parenting journalist Olivia Gordon, Christmas doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Research from a leading bank shows half of British parents buy their children between six and 15 Christmas presents - and the average parent spends a whopping £177 on each child.
When you think how many presents are only played with for 10-minutes – or completely ignored – that’s a lot of wasted money.
With such significant costs looming, most parents have to save-up. But if you’re dreading the cost of your child’s wish list, try these ideas for Christmas on a budget, including cheap Christmas present ideas.
1. Swish. Set up a Christmas swish (or swapping) party with other parents, exchanging unwanted items in great condition. It’s free, fun and a great way to offload the stuff your kids don’t use.
2. Choose cheaper stores. Buy gifts from an affordable store. At IKEA, for example, kids’ art materials and toys, candles and pot plants for class teachers and gingerbread house kits cost less than £5 each.
3. Reuse kids’ art. Paintings they bring home from school can be used as wrapping paper, cut into Christmas cards or used as paper chains.
5. Go homemade. Jars of homemade jam, or hand-painted mugs and bowls, make inexpensive presents for children to give relatives. Or get your child to paint a picture of a relative and pop it in a low-cost frame.
6. Turn to cash. Money is probably the most useful gift a child can receive. Why not start an FSCS protected savings account so they can see their money growing?
7. Look for offers. Many stores and online retailers offer two or more gifts for the price of one. Black Friday, on 25 November, is a particularly good day for bargain hunting.
9. Secret Santa. Try a Secret Santa ritual within the family to keep everyone on budget – and to keep costs down.
10. Craft your Christmas. Knit, crochet or sew something special. A patchwork blanket using the kids’ old clothes costs next to nothing and is a unique gift they’ll (hopefully!) treasure.
11. Gift list. It’s controversial, but tactfully offering relatives suggestions of what your child really wants or needs avoids amassing piles of unwanted presents.
12. Shop savvy. Avoid fads and gimmicks and choose classics: wooden toys and playhouses keep children entertained for years.
13. Go free. Kids can create music playlists, or make “vouchers” promising to clean the car or help make dinner.
14. Buy family gifts. Instead of individual presents, consider a joint gift for all. This could be anything from a local adventure to a holiday.
15. Talk about it. Parents often feel the need to shower children with presents, but children can and should understand that your spending isn’t limitless. Having a budget and explaining costs – at Christmas and around the year - prepares them for life. Giving them a gift budget, or an element of choice (such as one big gift or lots of smaller ones) keeps expectations realistic.
Investigate more ways to save money for Christmas. And remember, FSCS protects your money in UK banks, building societies and credit unions while you’re saving.