Budgeting for Christmas presents

Overspending can be a big problem at Christmas. But there are many ways you can save and still deliver gorgeous gifts that are gratefully received. You just have to know how to shop.

Make a plan

A budget for presents is your starting point to save money, as one in three people admit they feel pressured to spend more than they can afford. Work out how much you have available to spend on gifts, then make a list of everyone you have to buy for. Divide up your budget between them, allocating a set amount for everyone on your list. Then all you have to do is stick to it.

If you end up finding a bargain and spending less on one gift, bank the difference rather than spending more on someone else.

Don’t leave it to the last minute

The sooner you start Christmas shopping, the less you’ll spend, with last-minute shoppers apparently spending around £190 more than early birds who spread the spending out.

With Black Friday now marking the start of the Christmas shopping season, make sure you’re ready to spring out of the shopping starting blocks on the 24 November to bag the best bargains. But remember: have your present plan in place so that your budget doesn’t get blown off course by all those tempting offers.

Find present bargains

This is the fun bit. If you give yourself enough time, you’ll be able to bag some really great deals on gifts, giving a little bit extra for a little bit less.

First off, shop in places where your money will go further. Find outlets stores near you, or trawl through the ones online. Money Saving Expert has a useful list to find your local outlet stores.

Sites like Etsy have some amazing unique gifts from small sellers and clever crafters. Think about what the person that you’re buying for loves (could be anything from sunflowers to cycling) and search for perfect presents along that theme.

If you’re shopping from the big retailers, do your homework by making the most of all the clever saving tools out there. Find all the vouchers and coupons you’ve been sent, and tailor your festive shopping around them. Make use of all the rewards and bonus points you’ve been saving, and consider signing up to a cashback site such as Top Cashback to put pounds back in your bank account as you shop.

If you’re looking for something specific, sign up to a site like HotUKDeals which will point you to the place where you can get it for the best price.

Go the extra mile

Creating your own Christmas gifts is a brilliant way to save money, but it may cost you a lot of time, which is also in short supply at this time of year.

Instead, consider buying simple gifts and up-styling them to make a really special present. For tea lovers, you could buy a classic mug, for example, and fill it with posh tea and a personal message, or for bookworms find a lovely book in a second-hand shop and give it along with a heartfelt note about why you chose it just for them.

Getting some treasured photos printed out and put in an inexpensive frame is often far more touching than taking pot-luck on a more expensive shop-bought present. Try Photobox for some great ideas.

Your budget really will be the gift that keeps on giving.