Christmas spending and how not to get into trouble!

  • Layby — it's not too late!
  • Write a list for everyone you want/need to buy for and put an amount next to each person's name and then total the amounts. If the amount is not realistic or is more than you are able to spend then consider culling your list or reducing the individual amounts.
  • Write a list for each function you are hosting including a budget for all food and alcohol and make sure you stick to it. Prepare menus and start shopping for items now so the big Christmas food shop cost is reduced.
  • Make a family agreement on spending, restricting the amount. Wherever appropriate, focus on spending time together rather than exchanging gifts.
  • Do 'Pick a Gift' or Secret Santa — each person draws a name out of a hat for ONE other person and only buys that person a present for a set amount. Everyone gets a gift without spending lots of money.
  • Do a budget early so you know how much you can afford to spend. Talk to credit providers about payment arrangements if you need to spread payments out during this time.
  • Use your own handmade 'gift vouchers'. You could make a book of vouchers and offer a gift of your time — a massage, a morning of gardening, childcare, cook a meal or washing the car, for example.
  • Start now. Once you've made your lists, start buying now to spread the cost across a few months rather than a week. But don't be tempted to lift the limit on the presents or hand them over early – find a great hiding space and tick them off.