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How to Make a Last-minute Christmas Budget and Avoid a Financial Hangover

We're a month out from Christmas! If you're stuck wondering how to afford Christmas this year, don't despair there is still plenty you can do to avoid budget blowouts and a financial hangover come January.


Most of us dread the thought of how expensive Christmas can really get. I know I used to.

In fact, around 40% oconsumers admit to putting Christmas on credit - cards and buy now, pay later - with debt balances blowing out in January.

If you're serious about starting your budgeting journey early, or need help keeping your spend in check, here are a few things that I put in place every year to ensure we have a happy, safe and budget-friendly Christmas year after year. And you can too!


Start with making a list, checking it twice.

Just like Santa! Make a list of all the people you are planning to share the joy of Christmas with. Write a gift budget next to their names, now tally this up.

Scary? I know. Let's have a look at how you can reduce that spend this Christmas season.

SEE ALSO: 7 Tips to Make Traditional Christmas Food and Drinks for Less

1. Meet Kris Kringle

Imagine having to spend $50 on gifts for 8 people. That's $400 straight out of your budget and it doesn't even include wrapping or cards! Not to mention food, decorations and more. Consider Kris Kringle and you're instantly saving $350!

This is when you draw names out of a hat and get a gift for just one person instead of having to purchase something for everyone.

  • Suggest a Kris Kringle gift exchange.

  • Don't be afraid to suggest a gift budget so that everyone, regardless of their income, can afford to purchase a gift.

  • $25-$50 is a reasonable amount and you can get many fantastic gifts in that range.

  • Consider books, cookbooks, personal care products, perfume, accessories and more.

2. Take it a step further - gifts for children only, with some exceptions

Your family's and friends' presence and the opportunity to catch up, especially with the interruptions of the last couple of years, are the greatest gifts of them all, right?

We ACTUALLY do this every year—with the exception of my bestie with whom I traditionally exchange this daily positivity and motivation calendar — purchased on sale of course!

  • Chat with the hosts, or if you're hosting, ask guests to bring small gifts for the children only - I share some fun gifts that keep on giving ideas below.

  • You can even ask guests to combine their budgets and get something more substantial off your child's Christmas wishlist.

  • Use a gift registry - I use this one for birthdays which is FANTASTIC for getting the things you want and avoiding double-ups.

Of course, you can have a couple of special people in your life where gifts would make sense. And that's okay.

Chat to them about setting spending limits or opt for an experience together instead—dinner out, a night out in town, a weekend away in the new year.

If you feel like you must do something for everyone else, get a bulk pack of Christmas cards and write a festive message. Grab a handful of $1 scratchies or bake some gingerbread and gift with the card.

And, if someone really insists, suggest they bring a bottle of wine, a dish or some chocolates to the party instead of a gift which will help with your grocery bill, too.

3. Christmas potluck

This brings me to the next budget-friendly Christmas idea: Christmas potluck. Again, it's a standing tradition during our celebrations.

The idea of a potluck is when every guest contributes a dish or some drinks to the party.

  • Potluck celebrations save money off your grocery bill.

  • It saves time in the kitchen.

  • Assign dishes to guests, especially if they have a signature favourite.

  • Salads, desserts and sides are great for this. Don't forget the eggnog, punch or wine.

4. Choose gifts that keep on giving

I don't want to sound ungrateful, but I'd rather get a gift card and spend it on something I'll use or enjoy doing rather than get another candle I won't light, a scented soap I won't use, or a t-shirt that's just totally not my jam. Can you relate?

Whether it's Kris Kringle, or guests who insist on bringing a gift (or indeed for a birthday down the track), gift cards make great sense.

  • Ask for a gift card to use in your favourite stores or toward or use for experiences.

  • If you are gifting one, find them on sale or stack them with bonus loyalty and cashback offers for extra savings in your pocket!

  • There are gift cards for every person and every occasion: spa days, restaurants, movies, kids, teens, him, her, adventure, subscriptions or even just general shopping.

We LOVE gifts of experiences and often request these for birthdays as well. Less "things", more connection! You can always take a selfie of yourself enjoying the gift later and send it to the person who gave it to you—it's a nice way to reconnect with them too!