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Author: Greater Bank

Guide to your 2019 Christmas on a Budget

Want to get a ho-ho-hold of your budget before Christmas? Use our budget planner and keep things merry and bright!
Budget Planner

Christmas on a budget can be a difficult thing to achieve. The family are expecting the latest gadgets in their stockings, decorations are expensive, and catering for a large Christmas lunch can make things financially difficult. But Christmas doesn’t need to be an expensive occasion and there are lots of ways to save money around the event.

In order to have an enjoyable and affordable Christmas it’s a good idea to plan and save ahead of time. By thinking ahead, you can avoid worrying about money at Christmas, focusing instead on having a memorable time with your family. Here, we offer a list of cheap Christmas ideas across areas including gifts, decorations, entertainment, and Christmas lunch.

Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas

It can be difficult to save money on Christmas presents when the shops are full of the latest toys and gadgets. Spending more than you can afford can seem an easier option than gifting thoughtfully. Also, if you are seeing the extended family over Christmas, you might feel obliged to buy even more gifts. Presents can quickly become a financially stressful part of the event, putting pressure on you at a time when you should be enjoying yourself. Here are some tips to avoid unaffordable gift-giving. 

DIY Christmas Gifts

You want to save money on Christmas presents, but you also want to let your friends and family know that you care. By spending time making your own Christmas gifts, you can save money and still give a gift that friends and family will cherish.

If you have a craft skill like knitting or woodwork, there are lots of great gifts you can make - from interesting drinks coasters to woollen iPhone cases. If you can paint or draw, giving your friends and family handmade artwork, or even someone’s own portrait, can be quite touching.

But even if you don’t have any great skill or craft, you can still put your creativity to work. For example, you can buy plain white crockery and redesign it with stencils or create interesting patterns by dipping them in ink - the same for t-shirts, picture frames, diaries, and lots of other items. You can also buy affordable kits to make large batches of things - like DIY scented candles or cider. By buying one DIY kit you can cover the gifts for your whole family.

If you have children, you can have some great Christmas fun by helping them to make personal gifts to give to each other, or for the family to give to friends and relatives. Young children can put their handprints on framed canvases for a memorable gift. Older children can contribute to making gingerbread houses or Christmas decorations.

  • Framed Photos and Prints - You can create a personal gift by finding a photo of you and your friend or family member and putting it in a nice frame. Photo frames can be affordable - and you can even find some nice old ones in charity stores. Finding the right picture of you and your loved one doesn’t cost you anything, though. Old photographs from when you were younger can be a real novelty, particularly if it’s a photo they haven’t seen before.  You can also make a cherished gift by giving family and friends framed prints or posters. This is particularly good for young people, who like to make their bedroom walls interesting with posters of their favourite bands or movies. But you can also find great prints on the internet that emerging artists have made themselves.
  • Decorations - A good gift that will also be an investment for future years is Christmas decorations. Christmas decorations capture the spirit of the occasion and, if given within the family, will make preparing for future Christmases on a budget much easier. You can invest in nice ornaments, or create something more personal with something you have made yourself.
  • Gifts That Are Useful - Rather than spending money on gadgets and other things that will fall out of fashion, you can use Christmas presents as a way of investing in things for your home. Buying tools, gardening equipment, nice crockery, or a fruit juicer will be appreciated by someone who will put them to use. You can also buy gifts that will be put to good use on the day itself - like a new board game, puzzle, or DVD. Buying children a new soccer ball, netball, or backyard cricket set can also be a good investment to keep them entertained on the day.
  • Other Budget Gift Ideas - There are a lot of small things that you can buy at affordable prices that will suit a person’s individual tastes. Interesting jewellery, notebooks, money clips, belts, hip flasks and key chains can all make great presents when presented well.

Cheap Christmas Decoration Ideas

You don’t need to have a Christmas tree like the one in the local shopping centre to have an authentic Christmas, but Christmas decorations also add to the occasion’s spirit of festivity. And it isn’t too difficult to give your home a festive atmosphere without much money.

As we mentioned for gift ideas, one of the cheapest ways to create a good Christmas atmosphere is to make decorations yourself. Even if you don’t want to give one as a gift, spending time making decorations can make Christmas look great for not much money. The kids will also enjoy getting involved. | Greater Bank

Buying a string of Christmas lights can also be an efficient way of creating a Christmas atmosphere. Christmas lights are quite a simple technology and so you don’t need to spend too much to get a set that will last for years to come. For less than $20 you can give a room a great Christmas feeling. 

Cheap Christmas Lunch

Christmas lunch can be expensive, particularly if you are trying to cater to a large number of people. One good way to cut down on costs is to ask friends and family to bring something along with them. If everyone contributes a dish they have made or bought, Christmas can feel more communal, as well as easing the pressure on you. Also ask guests to bring their own alcohol - or drinks to share - can be a good idea. Drinks like beer and wine can become expensive if you are supplying them to a lot of people. 

You also don’t need to buy whole turkeys, expensive seafood, or cakes from a patisserie to create a nice Christmas meal. The weather in Australia means that having a simple barbecue outside is easy. People have their own preferences, so why not ask everyone to bring their favourite cut of meat and let them cook it themselves. 

Cheap Christmas Entertainment

With the family coming together for the whole day on Christmas, it’s important to keep everyone entertained. The good thing is that you can provide entertainment cheaply. 

One of the easiest ways to give the family something to do is to go to the beach. The beach gives the kids the opportunity to play and stay busy, and the adults can relax if they want to. Beach cricket can also be a great game to bring the family together. 

If the beach is not close by, then playing backyard cricket is an easy way to keep everyone entertained for hours. 

If your Christmas celebrations involve a lot of people, you can take everyone to a local park and organise a game of soccer, cricket, or touch rugby. Making sure you have the right bats and balls before Christmas day is a good idea. 

If the weather is not good or those activities don’t suit your family, there are great ways to have cheap entertainment indoors. A good idea is to buy a new board game for the family to try out on Christmas day - especially one that takes a few hours to play. If your family already has a favourite board game or card game, there is no need to even buy a new one. 

Saving for Christmas

As well as cutting costs on Christmas itself, you can also prepare well for your Christmas festivities by planning and saving early. It’s a good idea to work out what your priorities are around Christmas so that you can effectively budget for each aspect of the occasion. For some people, expensive gifts will be a higher priority, while others will want to make sure they have nice wine and chocolates on the day. If you work out where you want to direct your funds, you can avoid spending too much overall. 

To help you with this, you can use Greater Bank’s Budget Planner Calculator. The Calculator will allow you to enter in your income and savings, as well as your Christmas and non-Christmas expenses, to create a budget for a week, or a month, or a year. By establishing your Christmas priorities and budgeting early, you can avoid being forced into spending too much money around the event itself, allowing you to relax and enjoy the occasion. 

Budget Planner Calculator