Christmas is on the horizon, but for many, it can be a stressful time worrying if or how you're going to make ends meet. In this post, I'll be discussing how to have a good Christmas with no money.
First of all, well done. Admitting you've no money for Christmas is hard. Without a doubt, the short term easy option is to aimlessly spend on any other resources (store cards, credit cards, buy now pay later)
Sadly, however, that short term easy option is a long term financial nightmare.
So many of us have succumbed to the financial pressure of Christmas.
Even more so with the rise of social media allowing us to share the very best highlights of the day – yet nobody seems to share the credit card bills or the reality of the results.
Yet, outside of social media and inside of reality you'll actually find that Christmas is about spending time with one and another, and that comes at no cost at all.
Below are some hints and tips split into sections to help you maximise the smallest amount of money (or no money at all) when it comes to Christmas.
If you've enough time and you'd like to earn some extra money, this doesn't just have to be for Christmas but instead for day to day living, paying down debt etc check out the making money category.
The largest expense for many at Christmas time is gifts. With no money for Christmas finding a way to gift gifts to others can be hard.
Hopefully, with these hints and tips, it'll get a little easier.
Put Away Sweets From Halloween
If you've got children, then no doubt they'll be going out “trick or treating” for Halloween.
In many cases, they'll get far too many sweets and candy bars than they could possibly consume.
In which case, I recommend putting away a small handful of these sweets (or a large handful depending on their trick or treating success) to put in their stockings.
You don't have to have a skill in order to make gifts for people (although sure it helps).
There's loads of inspiration, ideas, tutorials and walk-throughs on Pinterest (I have a dedicated Pinterest Board for handmade gifts) and Youtube that will ensure you can hand make something for everyone at little or no cost at all.
My personal favourite handmade gifts include;
Buy Second Hand
If you do have some money to buy a small number of gifts for Christmas then buy items second hand. Just ensure they are in a gift-giving condition.
Second-hand items can be purchased online or from Goodwill, charity shops, thrift stores, car boot sales and garage sales at as much as 90% less than the same item would cost new.
This helps the money you do have to buy gifts go much further.
Maximise The Freebies
There's a whole host of freebies available year-round, although the number availability and amount of free stuff on offer seem to increase around Christmas time.
Some of the free items on offer are perfect to put away for Christmas. For example;
Free stuff with O2 Priorities – Even if you're not on O2.
Free stuff with WUNTU by Three – Even if you're not on Three.
Free photo prints – Might have to pay for the postage.
Free Lego – Each month at Lego stores.
The majority of these freebies and websites demonstrating the free stuff available update regularly.
If you want to make it look like you've purchased lots, or simply keep the children entertained for longer on Christmas morning (because they love this bit the most)
Wrap everything individually, instead of combining things together and then wrapping them.
Sure it will take a little longer, but it really maximises the gift-giving experience. You can even re-use wrapping paper for previous Christmas's or other events, or use brown paper or newspaper for a more natural and eco-friendly style.
Exchange Loyalty Points & Vouchers
Depending on the retailer then exchanging your loyalty points or vouchers can be used for gifts or for food.
Dig out those Boots Rewards cards, Nectar cards and Tesco clubcards and exchange the points for money off in-store. Better still, womble for some additional receipts to increase your number of points.
There are loads of competitions that you can enter online absolutely free. These numbers are especially high at Christmas, with the majority of marketing teams blowing their budget in Q4.
If you're interested in winning gifts for Christmas then be sure to start early. Some competitions can run for upwards of one month, it can then take an additional amount of time (sometimes again up to one month) to receive the prize.
Christmas is all about the food, and while the majority of supermarkets get into a major price war, it's sadly not enough to make the food free in most cases.
However, there are a couple of tricks you can use to create a Christmas dinner for the entire family for next to nothing.
Shop For Reduced Food
Reduced food shopping allows you to get food at up to 90% off because it's due to pass it's best before or use by date.
You can easily get Christmas food in December from supermarkets on a heavy reduced food reduction due to the amount they stock in stores.
We have an entire guide on how to reduced food shop, and what to look out for. However, my pro-tip when it comes to shopping for reduced food is to visit on Christmas Eve.
This sounds like a nightmare, and in most cases it is. I certainly would have everything I needed for Christmas dinner and simply be doing this shop for extras we can freeze to use throughout the year.
The supermarkets usually shut around 4pm (check the times with your local store) and because they are closed Christmas day too, they'll want to get rid of anything that goes out of date often right through to boxing day.
As supermarkets want to ensure they are fully stocked for this time, the amount of food on this particular day being discounted is simply mind-blowing (one year I almost bought a second freezer!)
Grow Your Own
If you're aware that you might have no money for Christmas in advance then you could look at growing some of your own vegetables and fruit that you might use on Christmas day in advance.
Of course, this isn't just good for Christmas day. It should also help you yield fresh fruits and vegetables at no cost for an extended period of time. See how to extend the life of these foods.
Look For Pay As You Feel Supermarket Locations
Pay as you feel cafés started with the aim of reducing food waste and have been a huge hit. Since then many pay as you feel cafés have also launched Pay As You Feel Supermarkets.
These supermarkets allow anyone from any financial background to go in and shop for overstocked or out of date food items.
Then you can simply pay what you can afford or what you feel the items are worth. Rather than each item having a set price.
Supermarkets are involved with these campaigns in order to meet the government requirements to meet the food wastage quotas.
So you'll likely find all sorts of brands in your local pay as you feel supermarket including; Marks and Spencers, Waitrose etc.
Here's a look at our local pay as you feel supermarket. Be sure to ask on a local community Facebook page or check Google for one near you.
Use Vouchers & Discounts
There's a whole host of mobile apps and websites that allow you to obtain free food from the supermarket.
Sadly, these foods will be specific and you will have to pay upfront and claim the money back (which can take anything from 48 hours to 30+ days)
Once you've opened your gifts and eaten your Christmas dinner how do you fill the day with fun activities for the whole family without spending money?
These activities can be done both on Christmas day or in the run-up to Christmas – if you're looking to spend time together as a family maybe during the school holidays etc.
Regardless of where you live there's always something going on locally at Christmas time.
Personally, we choose to visit the German Christmas Market in our local city. It's free to enter, and we only have to pay for parking.
We don't often buy anything and instead enjoy wandering around taking in the festive atmosphere.
In both our local village and our local town they have an evening where they switch on the Christmas lights.
Again this is free to attend and has lots of entertainment, alongside the big push of the button to turn on the lights at the end of the night.
Create Holiday Traditions
Whether it's watching a Christmas film, the queen's speech or doing a Christmas show-and-tell. Create a Christmas tradition that you'd like to repeat year after year.
This doesn't have to be much. However, when you look back in years to come it's that family Christmas tradition you're likely to remember instead of the gift you received.
Look Back On The Year
Consider taking photos and video clips throughout the year and putting them together in a slideshow with some music to watch together as a family.
Again this is a free activity, and just requires some basic computer skills (and a couple of Youtube videos).
Play Board Games & Family Games
Consider playing a board game together. Giving the gift of a second-hand board game should cost no more than £1 – £2.
However, it's dual purpose of both a gift and a family activity makes it a great investment.
Spread The Gift Giving Throughout The Day
Instead of spending the entire morning sharing gifts. Spread the gift-giving throughout the day.
With the majority of presents being in the morning but maybe 25% being hidden around the house with clues during the afternoon.
Again, these gifts don't have to be much and creating the activity around the item is a great way to expand the experience.