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Having a happy holiday season on a budget

By Emily Hanson

The winter break is a time of family, togetherness and celebrating light in the darkness!

With the last few years we've had, many of us might feel pressure to make the holidays an extravagant one. This, combined with the inevitable social media comparison, can make this time of year and its associated expenses feel really daunting.

But most of the time these expenses aren't necessary and can be worked around.

From expensive days out to fancy decorations, it’s easy to feel like we have to start shelling out from 1 December on all sorts of treats.

Below are some ideas to keep things on budget without losing any of the beauty or joy of the holiday season.

Outings and decorations

Rent a tree or buy an artificial one to use for several years. Going out and buying a brand new Christmas tree every year can seriously add up - so our top tip is either purchasing a one-off artificial tree to last your family several years, or try renting one! Renting a tree is not only kinder to your bank balance, but kinder to the planet. Many companies across the country will happily drop off a tree with you for a reduced price, and collect it again at the end of the season.

Learn more about Christmas tree rental

Make your own decorations. Beyond a basic pack of baubles, little else is needed to make your tree look beautiful. It can be very tempting to buy lots of new decorations every year, but with small folk around, there’s nothing more lovely than hand making decorations to add to your collection. This could be with simple cut-out card, glitter and paint, or even made with clay to make handprint baubles. 

Read more on making your own eco-friendly decorations

Go for free or cheap days out. If you have babies and toddlers, nothing beats a local garden centre with all the lights for a free sensory experience! Some garden centres will put on free activities for children too at this time of year.

Local Church carol offerings often have a child-friendly version for very little cost, and a walk around your local area to look at Christmas lights never gets old.

For those wanting to travel further afield without spending too much, the National Trust  offers days out offering properties decked out in Christmas attire, light displays and craft activities.

Gifts

It’s hard to deny that this time of year can be very consumerism heavy. With businesses capitalising on our spending, it’s easy to think we need to splash out on stacks of toys and gifts. This doesn’t need to be the case, though...

Follow the motto ‘want, need, wear, read’. It’s easy to get carried away with gifting, but a great motto for your family to follow is ‘want, need, wear, read’. Every family member can choose an item for each area with a set spending limit. Using this motto from an early age with your little ones will also support an awareness of want versus need, too. 

Take advantage of charity shops and secondhand marketplaces. In the run-up to Christmas many families start to clear out the toys that their children have grown out of - so take advantage of that. Get to know your local charity shops and work out where the best spots are. Check your local Facebook marketplace for specific items you have your eye on - you never know what might come up, often nearly new! Please be sure when doing this to check the safety of the toys you have purchased and that they meet relevant safety standards.

Choose toys that are open ended. This goes hand in hand with limiting waste, but we really advocate for choosing toys and gifts that are open ended for little ones. When toys are very specific to an age or skill range, they date quickly, meaning less value for money. Choosing toys that are more flexible, like construction materials, art materials and books, will last much longer - hence giving better value for money. If you want to get toys that are more specific to an interest, going second hand will help you limit this sting!

Read more in our article: Naturally gifted

It’s easy to get overwhelmed at this time of year but remember the best thing about the holidays is spending quality time with loved ones — and that’s completely free of charge.

You’re doing a great job, parents - keep up the good work and Happy Holidays!


 

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