4 Strategies for Making Sure You Have an Affordable Christmas This Year

affordable christmas 2014

Joanne Poh



We all know the Christmas season is the time to be jolly, as that’s what all the Christmas songs and advertisements tell you. I’m all for making merry when there’s something worth celebrating, but if every year you find yourself making the New Year’s resolution not to spend so much after going overboard with all that eating, drinking and gift-giving, you’re going to need these three strategies that can help to prevent post-holiday guilt.

1. Make a declaration that you’re not accepting gifts this year

Of all the people on your gift list this year, it’s likely only a few are people whom you actually want to buy something for. But many people continue to buy Santa-sized sacks full of gifts because they know they’re going to receive deluges of hastily-bought presents, especially at the workplace, and it’d be rude not to reciprocate.

Well, not if you make it clear you’re not going to be buying any gifts this year. Many of your colleagues or friends might even be secretly relieved that they won’t have to spend money on you. Send out a mass email or text message explaining that this year you won’t be accepting or giving any gifts, and that if anyone wants to buy you something they can just donate the money to a charity instead.

If you have to cite a reason, there are many established ones you can use—that you’re against the commercialism of Christmas, that you want to save the environment or simply that you’re trying to save money.


2. Gamify gift giving with your best friend or significant other

One of the most stressful types of gifts to buy are those for an expectant significant other, especially when he or she is in the habit of buying you extravagant or expensive gifts. Talk about pressure.

Instead of worrying about how you’re going to match the designer wallet that you know your partner is planning to get you, turn Christmas shopping into a game—a thrifty one, that is.

You might decide to see who can find the best gift under $10, or compete to produce most awesome handmade gift. You might agree to put together themed gift packs containing items bought exclusively at Daiso, or buy the most interesting book you can find at Popular.

Turning gift giving into a game will take the focus off how big, shiny and expensive the present is, which also means you won’t find yourself nervously browsing for jewellery or designer goods.


3. Celebrate in the day instead of at night

Despite Christmas actually being a religious holiday, trying to get into a club on Christmas Eve is like trying to get your kid into a top primary school—you’d better be prepared to cut some people down if you want a spot.

Between paying for cover charge, an overpriced drink and then a pricey cab ride back, you’re looking at spending a pretty penny.

Instead of waiting until night falls to celebrate, take advantage of the fact that most workplaces give their employees half a day off on Christmas Eve and make plans for the late afternoon.

Instead of having a late dinner and then counting down after midnight, have a mid afternoon mixer followed by an early dinner. Drinking in the day means you get to take advantage of happy hour deals, which often end before 8pm, and nobody has to spend a fortune trying to take a cab home afterwards. Plus, you’re much more likely to spend a little too much on overpriced drinks when you’re rushing to get happy before midnight strikes.


4. Never buy giftwrap when you can make it

Spending good money on sparkly giftwrap and fancy gift boxes isn’t a very smart use of your money unless you really, really care about impressing your recipient. That’s not to say you need to present all your gifts in plastic bags.

Giftwrap is super easy to make from things you probably have lying around the house. I like to use the comics page of the newspapers. You can also use white computer paper and then print out a simple black and white design like polka dots or sheet music.

Do you have any other ways to keep Christmas cheap? Let us know in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.

  • Jamir Deol

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