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How to Have the Best Christmas Without Blowing the Budget

Christmas lights wrapped around a piggy bank Dreamstime
December 2023
Reading time 4 Minutes

We've got 10 budget-friendly ideas for the best Christmas

Christmas can be the most expensive time of year, but with some careful planning you can avoid unnecessary expense, without missing out on what's important.


No, not the type of games you need a console to play on, but traditional games. They’re usually an affordable gift (many are less than £10) and they can provide plenty of entertainment. If you’re invited somewhere for Christmas lunch, it’s a nice alternative gift for your host too. Think classics like Trivial Pursuit and Articulate, and newer ideas such as Cards Against Humanity (but be careful who you play this one with). More budget-friendly games include traditional charades, hide and seek and family card games, or you can set up a scavenger hunt to keep everyone occupied, which requires no cash at all.


Renting rather than buying your Christmas outfit(s) is the most sustainable way of looking good over the whole festive period. The argument for renting fashion is certainly a strong one and companies such as locally-based are leading the way. When you can rent a dress, wear (as many times as you like over the rental period) and return it hassle free, it’s a great money saver. This Christmas create your new wardrobe by choosing five items from the thousands of dresses, jeans, jumpers, blazers and coats to rent for just £55, wear as often as you like over 30 days and return – no hassle and no extra hidden spending.


Resist the temptation to buy unnecessary items – a bigger pile of gifts does not equal more happiness, and splurging on fewer gifts will mean that less end up in landfill. Your bank balance will thank you for it and, as research shows that at least one in every nine presents received will be swapped after Christmas because it was something unwanted or not needed, it’s better to just miss them out altogether.

Read More: Where to Buy a Real Christmas Tree across the North East and Yorkshire


Old things can make great new gifts. Brown furniture may be out but brown furniture painted is very much in – scour your local antique and junk shops for pieces to up-cycle and gift. For someone who loves a bit of bling, antique jewellery can save the planet from a whole heap of harm and is usually much better value. Many jewellers will happily recast old gold into new designs for you too.


Buying from refill stores can often be cheaper than buying from the supermarket. You can buy exactly the amount you need of a given item, rather than being forced into buying a large pack of something you won’t use all of, and you won’t be contributing to the mountain of plastic packaging which comes with supermarket shopping. As a gift, once you have bought the container it will hopefully encourage the lucky recipient to keep refilling too.


Rather than being tempted by a last-minute expensive panic buy, make every present count. Something potted can be a perfect gift for green-fingered friends and will last for years. That’s a whole lot of joy in one simple present. Of course, we think a subscription to Living North makes a brilliant and lasting gift that just keeps on giving, making every day special, month after month, and it’s incredible value too!

Read More: The Greatest Santa's Grottos to Visit this Christmas


Think about how much you have to spend, and prioritise the items which are most important to you – whether you want to go big on the presents and cut down on new decorations, or want to create a fabulous festive feast (but aren’t bothered about a stocking). Make a list, check it twice, and then… stick to it! Consider keeping your budgeted cash in a separate account so once it has gone, it has gone – otherwise it’s all too tempting just to keeping tapping and buying.


Gifting an experience can have minimal impact on the planet, while supporting local businesses. It can also be a real treat for the recipient, providing a special treat at a time when many people are cutting back on luxuries. An hour’s massage at your local salon or spa, tickets to an event, music lessons, subscriptions or memberships are all great sustainable gifts. For an extra personal touch, and to help you stick to your Christmas budget, why not give the gift of service – volunteer to cut your mum’s lawn for a year, or help someone learn a new skill. Your time, energy and expertise are all as precious as anything you can put in a box.

Read More: The Best Pantos in the North East and Yorkshire to Book Now


Most wreaths are plastic-coated to ensure they can withstand the elements while they spend a month on your front door, but this year make a budget-friendly, more sustainable choice by creating your own wreath with offcuts of fabric and foliage from the garden, and add dried slices of oranges, nuts, cinnamon sticks, discarded ribbon from that bottom drawer and leftover baubles from the tree.


Not only will a handmade gift come without the plastic packaging – of which 125,000 tonnes are thrown away each Christmas – they’ll have added meaning and are usually far more budget-friendly too. From hand-knitted hats to paintings, homemade jams and chutneys, or even locally foraged sloe gin – a DIY gift is always gratefully received.

Read More: Winter Light Trails The Whole Family Will Love

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