20 Tips for a budget-friendly Christmas – Decor, gifts and entertainment

After a tough 20 months, you may want to cut the cost of Christmas 2021. That's why I've provided are some thrifty tips for you - both my own and from the experts - to help you save money on gifts, decorations and entertainment…

Collaboration with O2

According to statistics, the average adult reduced their spending on Christmas gifts last year. In 2019 each person spent £1116 on presents, and by Christmas 2020 this was slashed to just £883. Can we reduce this spend even more this year? As a thrifty gal, I certainly hope so. I always like to come in under-budget with my Christmas shopping, as this means I can start the new year with some savings in my pocket!

Nonetheless, we still want Christmas to be special and to create a fun experience for family and friends throughout the holidays, without feeling like we’ve scrimped. Here are some ideas for saving money while still getting those must-have gifts in the Christmas Sale, having beautiful decorations and enjoying entertainment this December:

DIY Decorations

One of the big things we splash out on at Christmas is the tree and all its decorations – especially if you’re getting a real, fresh Christmas tree each year. Sure, you want your home to look festive but there’s no need to overspend in this category, and I couldn’t believe the cost of cut trees the last time I shopped for one. Instead, here are some of my top tips for decorating on a budget, including my DIY Christmas creations:

  • Firstly, ask your friends and family if anyone has an old artificial Christmas tree that they no longer use – many people have one in the loft that they’ve since replaced and, even though it’s plastic, it’s much better for you to reuse it than for it go to landfill. Plus, you can reuse it year after year, saving countless real trees from being cut.
  • Alternatively, if you’ve got some leftover materials from your last home DIY project, such as wood, pipes or pallets, here are three ways you can make your own space-saving Christmas tree.
  • Once you have a Christmas tree sorted, you can add some DIY decorations – either embellishing old baubles or making salt-dough gingerbread shapes – and the kids will love getting involved in making them.
  • I’ve also shared a step-by-step guide to upcycle old toys into Christmas decorations – it’s a great way to recycle plastic and metal toys that the kids have outgrown and adds a personal touch to your Christmas tree.
  • To decorate the rest of your home, head out into the garden and bring some foliage into the house. Choose non-toxic evergreens like eucalyptus to decorate shelves and mirrors and add some sprigs of rosemary, which looks just like spruce but smells lovely.
  • Create a wreath for the front door using offcuts of fabric – it’s a great way to recycle fabric scraps and you can make it in any colour you like. This is another fun activity little ones can get involved with, by helping you to tie the fabric lengths onto the wreath ring.
  • You can even DIY your own Christmas jumper rather than buying fast fashion – either by using heat-transfer vinyl to upcycle an old sweatshirt that you already own or by sewing an applique design onto an old knitted jumper.

Cutting the Cost of Gifts

The biggest expense at Christmas is often buying presents. While it’s easy to reduce the costs of food and decorations, it’s less easy to save money on new products as they often have a fixed cost. Nonetheless, it IS possible to spend less – even on gadgets and devices – by simply looking out for weekly deals, seasonal sales and choosing refurbished items.

As an O2 expert explains, the company is particularly keen to help their customers cut the cost of Christmas: “We understand not everyone wants to splash out on a new device so we have a large range of approved refurbished phones, tablets and smartwatches. These help reduce our impact on our environment and will save you some cash while you’re at it.” All of O2’s refurbished devices undergo a thorough quality check and come with a 12-month warranty for peace of mind. Plus, you can still access all the same perks and benefits as the new equivalent.

You may have some ‘must-buy’ items on your Christmas list that your children, teens or partner has specifically requested and that’s when it’s easy to accidentally eat up your budget to get that essential item. As my husband and I have recently taken up running, one key thing on our O2 Christmas wishlist is a pair of Apple AirPods. But, as I’m not fussy about the particular model, I can simply keep an eye on weekly deals or shop the Christmas Sale to get the best price when it comes up. “If you’re eagle eyed you’ll see that we publish new deals every week, generally towards the end of the working week…” hints the O2 expert.

Budget-Friendly Entertainment

Even though there are plenty of venues and events clamouring to entertain you this Christmas, it’s not always necessary to spend £££s on performance tickets and days out. In fact, with the cold winter weather and dark nights, it’s sometimes preferable to stay at home and enjoy some indoors entertainment anyway.

  • A tradition in our home at Christmas is to buy the seasonal TV guide and then each member of the family gets a different colour highlighter to select what festive shows they’re going to watch,
  • And if your favourite programme isn’t on TV this year, I’ve written an EPIC guide to all the Christmas episodes of popular TV shows and where you can find them to watch online.
  • The O2 experts offer an at-home entertainment idea: “There’s nothing like a bit of Disney at Christmas and we offer up to 12 months free Disney+ on our 30GB and above plans.” So, if you’re already paying for a mobile contract like this, you can keep the family entertained all year round without any extra cost.
  • Similarly, if you haven’t already, then download O2 Priority to access experiences for the holidays with Virgin Experience Days along with free Café Nero goodies and other festive freebies.
  • No doubt you’ll already have some Christmas DVDs in your cupboards so there’s no need to subscribe to a streaming service to watch your favourites – just put on a festive film, pop some popcorn and snuggle up under a blanket for a couple of hours of entertainment. Here’s my round-up of animations, comedy and child-friendly Christmas films.

I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration and insider tips into cutting the cost of Christmas this year. Wouldn’t it be nice to go into the new year with some extra money in your pocket rather than worrying about overspending in December? Let me know your own hacks for festive decor, saving money on gifts and entertaining the family at Christmas – I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below. 🙂

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This article is sponsored collaboration with O2. The pink links in the content indicate a sponsored link or information source. The blog post reflects my own experience and the sponsor hasn’t had any control over my content 

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in Lifestyle Promotion Studies and is trained in Personal Money Management. She loves to ‘get the look for less’ so regularly shares thrifty-living advice, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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