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Festive gifts and budgeting tips

Christmas gifts

You might be reading this and panicking. How can I budget for Christmas when it is only a few short weeks away?

Well firstly, do not panic. Really, do not panic. There is still time to make sure that you can get your festive gifts.

In our family we made a decision to only buy gifts for the children. This means that we do not have to buy for my brother, sisters in law or brother in law. If this isn’t for your family how about suggesting a secret Santa where you pick a name out of the hat, so each of the adults receives one gift and you only have to buy one gift for the person you choose?

Old for new

To avoid splurging and teach youngsters the value of items, go through your home from top to bottom and seek out anything that you do not need and could sell. Local Facebook groups are a great way to make extra cash in a really timely manner.

Have an “eat from the freezer week”. Save the week’s grocery money to spend on gifts by eating from the cupboard or the freezer for as long as you can. I am very guilty of thinking that I have nothing in when actually I have more than enough in the pantry.

Take a look at how much you could get from selling books or out of date electronic equipment. I am a bookworm and was really surprised when I realised how much I could make by selling my books.

Handmade gifts

Homemade is a great way to give Christmas gifts. Gifts made with love are always well received. Who wouldn’t want to receive a lovely mug that was fingerprinted with robins and filled with snowman soup? You can pick up a mug for under a £1 and the ingredients for snowman soup can be bought for less than £1, too.  

Perhaps your skill lies in knitting or crochet, so why not keep an eye on the charity shops for wool to make a scarf or gloves for a loved one? In the past I have sewn personalised pencil cases and bags as gifts.

I for one would love to receive some festive treats and cookies, while peppermint creams or homemade truffles are all great gifts to make and to receive.

Grandparents and other relatives love anything that has a child’s handprint or fingerprint on. Even if that is just a card or a tea towel.

Second hand is not second best

I am a firm believer that second hand isn’t second best and that preloved is a great way of being able to purchase all the Christmas gifts that you might need. Recycling, reusing and upcycling is really in vogue at the moment, so children mostly do not have any issues with second hand or are too young to know the difference.

Local Facebook groups are a great place to pick up second hand toys, especially if you are worried about condition, as you can check them out in person when collecting or paying for them. Even better, there are no postage charges involved.

Take a tip out of our parents’ and grandparents’ generation. My mum and dad always unboxed our gifts; I used to think that it was to remove all the packaging and ensure that anything had any batteries, but now I realise it was so that we couldn’t tell if they were new or used!

Charity shops are often a great place to pick up toys at this time of year as many people clear out their outgrown ones before Christmas to make room for all that Father Christmas brings. Don’t worry if plastic toys seem a little grubby; you can pop them in the dishwasher or even in a bath full of sterilising liquid and they will come up like new.

We are using LEGO that is generations old and you cannot tell it from the new stuff; I just popped it in to a mesh bag and put it in the washing machine.

I know that a lot of boot sales stop for the winter, but it is worth keeping an eye open for any local ones still running. They are great places to pick up things at really great prices.

Give the gift of time

When my boys were younger, I would have been delighted if someone offered me a card that said I could claim eight hours of babysitting for them.

So if money really is tight how about offering the gift of time to friends and relatives, whether that be in babysitting hours or cooking them meals or even house or dog sitting. Make some coupons that can be exchanged.

We are spreading out the boys’ Christmas gifts over twelve months this year by giving a monthly family experience. I know when my children were younger that they loved spending quality one on one time with us, so gifts such as being able to choose the family movie or an extra 30 minutes staying up late and spending it in mummy and daddy’s bed can go down a treat.

Jen Walshaw is passionate about crafting and cooking, and can often be found in the kitchen teaching her boys - aged 9 and 10 - to make pizza dough, or making homemade gifts for family and friends. When not up to her eyes in flour or paint, she can be found writing about living a creative family life at Why not catch up with her at The Mad House Facebook page or follow her on Instagram for a glimpse into family life in The Mad House.