How to Budget for Christmas

I had to chuckle over a comment on Instagram recenty. It’s early December and I have had a few articles in the press about saving money for Dec, not spending a fortune on presents, having difficult conversations about not giving presents this year, not giving Christmas cards. Like this article in The Sun, and this article with Zopa Bank.

I posted a picture of me on Instagram and told the world and my new followers that I was newly single. A three-month thing that I thought was real, it wasn’t, and had just ended, a follower commented hey at least you have saved some money on your Christmas budget. I laughed. Thank you.

Its time to write that Christmas budget and figure out how much it’s going to cost, work out where you can cut back and save money, where you can not do things and save a few pounds. This will enable you to really think about the total cost of Christmas and what you can afford.

Christmas is a very expensive time especially if you have children and/or a large family. And this year is even harder, with many of us having less money available. I would hate for you to open that credit card statement in January/February feeling sick about the amount of money you spent on Christmas. And then the worry of the time it will take to pay that back (check out my debt resources).

Grab a piece of paper and a pen and lets Budget

I like to go old school with a piece of paper and a (Christmassy) pen, but go for the technical spreadsheet / notes app option if you prefer. Write down a list of everything that you need to spend extra money on this Christmas


Who do you NEED to buy presents for and who do you WANT to buy presents for? Is there anyone else on the list, random aunts and uncles, cousins, do you REALLY need to gift that Boots Bath set again? Why not have that conversation about maybe stop the gifting? I remember as a child counting up my gifts and thinking wow I have 10 gifts and thinking that was a HUGE number of presents. My children won’t ever have piles of 30 presents that they rip open in 15 minutes flat and not appreciate who has given them what. I don’t want them to expect this kind of treatment every Christmas or birthday.

I heard a wonderful comment on a radio interview last week from a caller speaking to Nicky Campbell and I on BBC Five Live.

To my Children at Christmas. Think of :-

Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.

My gift list – Three Children £100 each. Ideas/bought so far,

Bluetooth earphones (£27 – bought in sale thanks to Which offers article),

Book – football related or Enid Blyton. J – Magic Faraway Tree is a must, how I loved that book at his age!

Coat H&M (save £5 by taking in a bag of old clothes – I have around 30 bags to take in;-)),

PJs – Again H&M, I’ll do separate transactions to save another £5, and I have £3 coupon in my app to use.

Bob Ross Painting kit, my youngest son 9 LOVES Bob Ross.

Other Gifts

I am having an early Christmas celebration with my Cornwall family on 19th Dec. There will be gifts exchanged with them. I am spending £100, so £33 each on them. They will also be getting homemade presents, including chutney, infused gin, yule log and fudge.

I am gifting same homemade presents to a few wonderful friends who have been there for me this year and past few years of annus horribilis. This will cost around £50 for enough presents to give to ten people.

Christmas Chocolate Yule Log

A Gift to Myself

A wonderful thing that every single mum or dad could think about. One thing you really WANT. Something you have been coveting that you can afford. I bought myself a little something in the Black Friday sale that is now wrapped up and under the tree. And I am in London a few times before Christmas so ‘might’ take a little trip to Selfridges for a little browse.

Total Gift Budget is £550, including £100 for myself. But £70 covered by Nectar vouchers and another £50 covered by Top Cashback reward vouchers I have been saving up. Can I sell some stuff before Christmas to help cover more of this? YES I CAN.

Christmas Food

I am contributing to the Christmas food costs for Cornwall, and have been collecting Nectar points via my American Express BA Avios credit card (that I pay in full each month) and have £220 on Nectar points to spend in Sainsburys on Christmas gifts and food!

I am contributing £50 towards Cornwall Christmas food and will have it delivered direct to my sisters house. Plus will spend £100 on Christmas treats for my boys and me. Although I have already spent £20 on glittery glow up gin from M&S, that I bought in September as soon as it went on sale! This leaves me with £70 of Sainsburys Nectar vouchers to get a few more boys presents.

Christmas Dinner on 25th. We are treating ourselves this year. I have the boys for 24 hours from Christmas Eve until Christmas Day Eve and I cannot be faffed with cooking Christmas dinner, plus I have already done it once for an article coming out next week for The Sun. A did a huge dinner with all the trimmings early December, three courses, plus booze. It took around four hours to prep and cook so I’m done for this year. The boys and I are off to the pub, The Lytton Arms, that we can walk to on Christmas day. Its not cheap, it will be around £150 for the three of us. I think very worth it.

Total food spend £300, but £150 covered with Nectar vouchers.


This is a big cost for me. Looking at my diary over the next three weeks I have ten social events. BUT, two of those are corporate gifts so I only have to cover travel to the O2 (Tom Jones this week with Virgin Money!) and to Brentford football club vrs Man City (Thank you from my boys – PensionBee). One is a Scummy Mummies night at Clapham Grand with my friend Eve, tickets already bought. Two are lunches. Two are drinks at friends houses and three are dinners/cocktails nights out. I estimate an average of £50 per event. £500 spend. This ‘might’ be a bit light. I will report back!

Train to Cornwall

We are getting the train this time rather than driving. YES I can actually relax, read, listen to music, drink gin. I got my tickets six weeks before travel date, the optimal time to buy a train ticket. This cost £120 with a £15 Trainline discount, Top Cashback discount plus the use of a Friends and Family Railcard. Three of us to travel 300 miles to Penzance. Not too bad.


Zero costs here. I don’t send Christmas cards, I give to charity instead, and have been giving a lot via my Team Appalachian Challenge from Oct to Dec.

I have tons of decorations already, and do not need a single new decoration. And I have been collecting packaging from parcels over past few months to use as wrapping paper this year.

There we have it. Total Budget

Gifts £550 (but £120 covered by vouchers, loyalty cards)

Food £300 (but £150 covered by Nectar loyalty)

Socialising £500

Train Travel £120

Total £1,470 with savings so far of £270 so total outlay of £1200. THAT IS ALOT.

I am still aiming at covering more of this £1,200, with selling a shed load of stuff (I have a pile, I JUST need to get listing). I will report back at to how well I have done just before Christmas.

What about you? What is your Christmas budget looking like?

This post contains affiliate links where I receive a small fee if you sign up/buy. This does not affect the price you pay, and mostly you get a reward too! Such as PensionBee, where we both get £50 each credited to our pensions.

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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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