Christmas savers: 10 easy ways to cut costs this Christmas

Many households are feeling the pinch this year as the cost of living continues to bite, so saving money on Christmas shopping has never been more important. 

Worryingly, according to Citizens Advice, more than a quarter of UK adults say they are likely to use buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) to help with costs over the festive period. While many of our Look After My Bills users have told us they’ll need to cut back this year. 

To help, we’ve come up with 10 simple ways to save on your Christmas shopping. This is more about gifts, so also see our  ‘How to save on grocery costs’ article for ways to cut the cost of your Christmas dinner and our Consumer rights when shopping article so you’re not caught out.

With the energy crisis causing a major impact on our bills, with doing an energy comparison to find a cheaper deal no longer offering decent savings, we’ve also looked at how much Christmas lights cost to run so you needn’t dim your festive spirit. 

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1. Pay with loyalty card points

You can save on the cost of Christmas if you use up loyalty points at the supermarket till. With most supermarkets selling everything from cards to wrapping paper, toys and gifts, you can stock up and pay for these using your points .

Supermarkets run loyalty schemes as well as other stores such as Boots, Body Shop and Holland and Barrett, so check for cards you may have forgotten about. 

Depending on the individual scheme, you may be able swap points for purchases at the till as well as making savings on the shelf price.

With Tesco, you can double the value of your points when swapping for treats such as vouchers for days out, which could make great Christmas presents.

2. Declutter and regift

If you have unopened and unwanted gifts from Christmas or birthdays past, still in their original wrapping, why not regift them?

It saves a wasted present gathering dust at the back of your cupboard, but be sure to take out any personalised tags. And make sure you don’t ‘regift’ to the person who gave it to you last year!  

To do this successfully going forward, you could keep a spreadsheet or list of spare gifts along with who gave them to you.

3. Do a secret Santa to cut down on the number of gifts you buy

If you have groups of friends, neighbours or work colleagues that you usually buy for, why not all agree to do a secret Santa and only buy one gift this year?

So rather than buying for everyone in the group, which can be expensive, you just buy for the person you pull out of the hat.

This will save you money and can be fun as well. Just be sure to set a spending cap, so no one spends more than they need to.

And if you get something you really don’t want, why not regift it this Christmas to someone else?

4. Dump your basket at the online checkout for discounts

If you shop online, don’t be too eager to check out and pay. Filling your basket and leaving it at the online checkout overnight may save you money, as the company may send you a discount voucher to tempt you into completing your order. 

You’ll have to sign in or sign up for an account with that store first before filling your basket and then leaving that site. If you’re lucky, the retailer will then email you a discount code. So check your inbox over the coming days, then head back to the site to complete your order, but this time with a nice discount. 

Bigger stores such as M&S, Boots and John Lewis don’t tend to do this. But we’ve heard this has worked at Asos, Dunelm and H&M among others.  

I regularly try this trick on Etsy and every single time I’ve been sent a 10% discount voucher. There are no promises it’ll work, but it’s worth a go.

5. Pay with gift cards

Check purses, wallets, pockets and drawers for unused gift cards. Even if you’ve just got a couple of quid left on them, it’s worth using them up before the expire as every penny counts.

If you’ve got a brand new unused gift card, you could consider ‘regifting’ it, but check any expiry date first.  The easiest way to do this is by calling the customer service number on the card, or check the retailer’s website where you may have to enter the card code.

6. Shop in charity stores

Charity shops aren’t just about buying second hand items. You can buy new gifts for cheap and support your chosen charity too. 

For example, Cancer Research UK sells a range of gifts including hot water bottles, mugs and coasters and the RNLI sells items such as hats, fleeces, teddy bears, pens and calendars.

And you may be able to pick up stocking fillers including brand new games, books or jigsaws at hugely reduced prices in high street charity shops, depending on what’s in stock.

7. Buy cheap wrapping, ribbon, tags and cards

Even if you remember the gift you were given last Christmas, who remembers the wrapping paper?

Discount stores such as Card Factory, Flying Tiger Copenhagen, B&M and Poundland sell everything from decorations to cards, wrapping, gift bags and all the trimmings. 

Save gift bags and bottle bags each year, as you can easily take off the tag and recycle them with gifts to save on wrapping.

And store up packaging from online deliveries, such as tissue paper, bubble wrap and jiffy bags if need to send parcels by post.

8. Track down discount vouchers

You can save money tracking down discount vouchers and online codes to use at the checkout. 

Signing up to newsletters when shopping at new stores may mean you get an initial discount of around 10%. These can often be used in store or online. 

You may also get vouchers or discounts on your birthday, which could be used to help pay for gifts.

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9. Keep receipts to return items and rebuy at sale prices

If you pay full price for a gift, but later spot it cheaper in the pre-Christmas sale, there’s a clever trick to save some cash.

When it comes to refund rights, high street stores don’t have to give you your money back if you change your mind on purchases. 

However many have generous goodwill returns policies. With big high street stores, this may mean you can return items, with the receipt, get a refund and then buy the item again at the cheaper price.

See our full consumer rights when shopping article for more tips. 

10. Free festive fun

The run up to Christmas is often packed with events, invitations and trips out, all of which can further dent your Christmas shopping bank balance. 

There’s lots of free events to watch including Santa runs that take place across the country during December. Watch pantos on a budget by booking tickets to local amateur dramatic productions and younger members of the family can check Santa’s progress across the world on Christmas Eve with this handy free tool.