Planning for Christmas

With cuts to Universal Credit, furlough ending and increasing energy costs, Christmas this year will be hard for some people. Contact us for information and advice on local support and provision – don’t panic, we can help! Follow our tips and advice to plan for Christmas.

Step 1: Start with a plan

A typical household in the UK spends just over £2,500 in a month. But in the run up to Christmas our spending habits change. We spend on average almost £740 more in December, which is 29% more than in a typical month.

It’s difficult to pay for Christmas out of December’s pay packet alone, so it makes sense to save up as much as you can beforehand.

The earlier you start saving, the less you need to put aside each month. Even a small amount over a few months can make a big difference.

To start a plan; use our template to list your Christmas expenses and allocate an amount for each item e.g. gifts, cards, food etc. Use our Christmas budget planner template.

Step 2: How to make the most of your money

  1. Contact us for a benefit check call 01900 604735
  2. You could be eligible for the £140 Warm Home Discount to help pay for your energy costs call us on 01900 604735
  3. Reduce your energy costs – contact us for energy saving advice call us free on 01900 604735
  4. Shop early if you can – take advantage of sales, offers and deals
  5. Collect and use loyalty card points in supermarkets and other shops such as Boots (all loyalty cards are free, and you can have as many as you want) to purchase food and gifts.
  6. Sell unwanted items on selling sites such as Facebook marketplace, eBay, Vinted, Shpock etc
  7. Plan meals ahead and stick to it.
  8. You could also embrace the digital age and email Christmas cards to save on postage.
  9. Ask yourself if you want or need things – Spend your money on the stuff you need first and save the ‘wants’ for special occasions.
  10. Don’t always reach for the branded products – look for the cheaper alternatives. If you spend £100 a week on your shopping you could save up to £1500 per year by simply swapping to own brand or value brand items.
  11. Cut out non-essential purchases – we’re talking coffees, cigarettes, bottled water, takeaways that eat into your finances.
  12. Try secret Santa with a small budget – agree amongst each friend/family group who wants to get involved, throw your names in and decide on a maximum spend you’re all comfortable with.
  13. Use the internet and comparison sites to find cheap deals. Google shopping can help you find the cheapest deals from big retailers on things including clothes, games and toys.

Step 3: Spend less on your Christmas dinner

To make a cheap Christmas dinner for less than £2.50 per head for a group of four, buy value or frozen ingredients. A whole chicken or turkey works out cheapest pound for pound. Here’s how you can make Christmas dinner for 4 people for less than £15 (based on prices from and

Costs: £9.62* (£2.41 per serving – Serves: 4)

Here’s a shopping list to make a filling, tasty and cheap Christmas lunch this year:

4 chicken breast fillets (£3.65) – if you’d prefer turkey, it could cost a bit more

85g sage and onion stuffing pack mix (£0.32)

75g cranberry sauce (£0.50)

40g bread sauce mix (£0.65)

2.5kg Perfectly imperfect potatoes (£0.89)

3 carrots (£0.12)

1kg sweet potatoes (£0.89)

2 parsnips (£0.26)

2 onions (£0.20)

500g Brussels sprouts (£0.78)

290g tinned peas (£0.40)

12 small, ready-made and frozen Yorkshire puddings (£0.62)

50g gravy granules (£0.10) – quantity needed may differ depending on which brand you buy

7 tablespoons of vegetable oil (£0.20)

Salt and pepper (£0.04).

Step 4: Cashback on Christmas Shopping

This isn’t just a tip for saving money at Christmas, but most people do spend more on shopping during the festive period than at any other time of the year.

When you shop via cashback sites like Quidco and TopCashback, they’ll give you a certain percentage of your total spend back. This essentially amounts to a discount off the product, and all you have to do is make sure you visit the cashback site first and go through them.

Some sites like Quidco also offer cashback at selected high street stores, so you can also take advantage of cashback offers on the highstreet and online in some instances.

Be a clever Christmas consumer

Know your new consumer rights

It’s worth understanding what your new customer rights entitle you to before you buy, particularly if you are shopping for expensive items that you haven’t bought before. Visit for more information.

Be smart about your Christmas cards

Cards longer than 25cm, wider than 16.5cm, thicker than 5mm or heavier than 100g need a costlier large letter stamp. If you use the wrong stamp the recipient may have to pay a surcharge for incorrect postage. If sending cards in coloured envelopes, write the address on a white label.

Be careful buying from online sellers

If you’re buying from an individual seller on an online marketplace, many of your consumer rights don’t apply. Items should be as described, but a private individual has no legal duty to inform you of any faults or to offer a cancellation period. Read the product description and the seller’s return policy carefully.

Fair terms not hidden in the small print

The Consumer Rights Act states that terms and conditions must be prominent, so important terms hidden in the small print may not be compliant. Check for hidden extras or any additional costs in any credit agreement or contract. Check for information on delivering goods or missed deliveries of goods.

Protect your items

Prevent damage in transit with padded envelopes or bubble wrap. Send valuables with insured services like Royal Mail’s Special Delivery service so you can claim compensation if your item is lost or damaged. For more general items up to £20 request a free Certificate of Posting from the Post Office.

Send second class

Second class post is more cost effective and has a better delivery record at Christmas – if you plan ahead second class is far more likely to be delivered in three working days than first class is in one working day.

Return faulty goods within 30 days

The short term “right to reject” enables you to return goods to a trader within a 30 day period for a full refund if your core rights have beenbreached. The burden of proof will be on you to prove that the goods are not satisfactory, fit for purpose or as described.

Returning online gifts

You can return most goods that you order online for up to 14 days after you received them for a full refund. You’re allowed to handle andinspect what you’ve bought before returning, but the trader may deduct some money from your refund if you’ve used the product.

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