This time of year can really stretch the purse strings. If you’re keeping an eye on your finances but looking to get into the festive spirit, look no further than this blog post from student Money Mentor Claire.
Cheap and Cheerful Christmas
You may be slightly scared by the holidays, and think that you need to start checking down the side of the sofa for any spare coins, as Christmas is always seen as a holiday which will stretch you thin. But it is time to change that misconception. Here are some easy ways to have fun in the festive season on a budget.
Do not underestimate your creativity and artistic skills. Yes you may stick your hands together with PVA glue and spend ages peeling it off, but that is part of the fun. It is amazing how much you can do with ribbon and pompoms. You can find them from any arts and crafts shop and although glitter may be messy when you are making cards for your friends and family, the sparkle you add for the snow is quite breath-taking and far more personal than any card from WHSmith.
Some homemade cards, decorations and festive gifts from King’s Wellbeing’s recent crafternoon event in aid of mental health charity Mind.
If you are stuck on gift ideas, check out this website for a list of homemade presents and links to tutorials so you can do it yourself: https://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/cheap-and-easy-last-minute-diy-gifts-theyll-actually-want?utm_term=.pjJv8n2z9#.xyMRLvwAy
If you are a baker, then now is your time to throw on the apron and oven mits. Pintrest and other websites have a huge collection of recipes (https://uk.pinterest.com/explore/christmas-recipes/) but if you are ever in doubt, add cinnamon or nutmeg to whatever you are baking and it is bound to make the kitchen smell wonderful and festive.
Well, why not try singing out loud? Christmas carolling is a long lost tradition which I feel should be brought back to life. Grab your mittens and woolly hats and go singing with your friends! It is a lovely way to spend the evening with your nearest and dearest. Belt your heart out (don’t worry, mulled wine can help if you are feeling a bit shy). It is Christmas after all – the season of joy and goodwill – so your neighbours are sure to smile and may even join in, or offer you a mince pie for your efforts.
Warning: Do NOT go shopping on Christmas eve or even two days before that. The queues are likely to be huge and people can get aggressive when you are both eyeing up the last turkey on the shelf.
Make a list and stock up. There are often great offers on mince pies and nibbles so keep your eyes peeled. Carrots, parsnips and brussel sprouts also become very cheap in the weeks leading up to Christmas so why not buy extra? Cook a lot on Christmas day and then freeze the leftovers. Or just keep the extra veg in the fridge for a week later. Check the packets and buy the ones with long best before dates.
If you are having a whole turkey or chicken, don’t throw away the bones! They make a lovely soup which will help you keep warm in the chilly evenings and you can even add those extra carrots you bought to squeeze in one of your five a day. (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/moms_turkey_soup/)
Honestly though, after Christmas if when you get the real bargains. Supermarkets always overbuy and try to frantically get rid of stock in January so, even if you may be sick of figgy pudding at the moment, February blues is bound to make you go back to those Christmas cravings, so buy it while it is cheap and indulge in a post-Christmas pick-me-up!
Finally, I hate to be cheesy, but it is honestly true – Christmas isn’t about saving or spending money. It is about being with friends and family and creating priceless memories together. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!’
Don’t forget that our Money Mentors are here all year round during term to give guidance on making the most of your money, whatever your budget. For specialist and detailed advice on your financial options please contact the Student Advice team.