Christmas doesn't have to mean over-indulging and overspending. Use your Boundless shopping discounts to save on food, drink and presents
The last thing you need in January is a heavy debt hangover from Christmas. Start now and you can spend and save clever and win at both Christmas and new year.
1. Work out a budget
Key to not overspending in the run-up to the festive season is to work out a budget – and stick to it. After all, there's no point in starting off the new year in debt just for the sake of one day. According to moneysavingexpert.com, by the time you tot up the cost of presents, food, travel and decorations, the average Christmas spend per household is about £500.
Once you've worked out how much you're going to spend, it'll be much easier to resist buying items on impulse that you don't really need. A good way to work out how much food you need to buy is to use the website lovefoodhatewaste.com, which will help you calculate just the right portion sizes.
We've gathered together great ways you can save on your Christmas food and drink with your Boundless shopping discounts. And how to make savings on your Christmas tree, decorations and cards, and Christmas days out at the theatre and cinema.
Read more money-saving advice from the experts:
- How to save money this Christmas with your discount shopping cards
- How to manage your finances: five key points to consider
- How to make money from your hobby for a better work/life balance
2. Use points and cashback
Christmas is a great time to use any of the points you have collected through the year. Boots Advantage points can be used to spend on the 'buy two get one free' offers they have around this time of year. With Tesco Clubcard points you can get three times their value in discounts on bicycles, jewellery, train tickets and more.
The best value supermarket card is the Iceland Bonus card (a prepaid card you use in store) and, in the run-up to Christmas, it's even better. Usually Iceland adds on £1 for every £20 you upload to the card but, in the pre-Christmas period, you will get £1 for every £10 you upload. Check out the rules at iceland.co.uk/bonus-card.
3. Borrow wisely
Do everything you possibly can to not borrow for Christmas, including getting as much as you can for nothing (check out the article on the MoneyMagpie website on how to do Christmas for free). But if you have to borrow, do it as cheaply as possible.
The ideal is to go for a credit card that offers 0% on purchases. If your credit rating is good enough, there are amazing deals around with 0% periods of up to 27 months, which would enable you to pay off the debt bit by bit without paying extra in interest.
If your credit rating isn't so hot, join your local credit union for reasonable and flexible loans. Generally, it will want to see you saving first, so join now in order to qualify for a small loan. Find your nearest credit union at findyourcreditunion.co.uk.
4. Switch accounts
Want to make an instant £150 for Christmas? Simply move your current account to one that rewards you for switching. This has been made much easier and quicker by the Current Account Switching Service, which guarantees all your standing orders and direct debits when you switch. It's also all supposed to be done within seven days of your application, so you can still do it in time for the festive season.
Banks offering incentives include HSBC (£150 now and an extra £50 if you stay for a year) and M&S Bank, which is offering £185 in vouchers.
5. Find hidden Amazon savings
Amazon is the easy one-stop shop for your Christmas shopping, from DIY to DVDs, handbags to hardbacks. But did you know it has discount pages in which you can potentially make huge savings?
Keep an eye on Amazon's own deals-of-the-day page, and make use of moneysavingexpert.com's Amazon discount finder, which allows you to input various parameters (what you'd like to buy, price range etc). It will then create a custom Amazon search results page for you. It's also worth using the Amazon price tracker at camelcamelcamel.com, which alerts you when prices drop.
6. Sell for Christmas
Now is a great time to declutter and make money online for Christmas by selling all the things hanging around your home. According to gumtree.com, the average household has £2,589-worth of household items sitting around unused and unwanted. So raid your cupboards.
Get instant cash on books, CDs, DVDs and games by swiping the barcode with the app at ziffit.com. Then put clothes and gadgets on eBay. Find out about more ways to sell unusual or bulky items at clearyourclutterday.co.uk.
7. Get baking
If you're handy in the kitchen you can also make money for the festive season by making Christmas cakes and sweets and selling them at car boot sales and markets. There are a number of other ways you can make money for Christmas too, which you can find in the free eBook Make Money for Christmas on moneymagpie.com (PDF).
8. Cut postage costs
To avoid having to send your Christmas cards first class, make sure you post them before the last Christmas posting date for second-class letters – this year it's Tuesday 18 December (go to postoffice.co.uk for the full list of Christmas last posting dates for Royal Mail and Parcelforce).
For larger items, if they weigh more than 2kg, you can make significant savings by using a courier instead of Royal Mail (many of which will collect items from your home). To get started, go to interparcel.com, which books delivery slots with a wide range of couriers and then sells them on to the public. Input the details of your parcel and where it's being delivered to on the website, and you'll be presented with a wide range of delivery options to choose from.
Cut the costs of delivering your Christmas parcels.
9. United you stand
The best way of all to save money in the run-up to Christmas is to get together with friends and family and agree how much you won't spend on each other this year. Maybe agree with the adults that you won't buy presents for each other, just the kids. Or make a plan to go out for dinner together as your 'present' to each other. Try a Secret Santa with work colleagues or even family members, where you each just buy one good present for one person rather than lots of small gifts.
If you can persuade them, get the family to agree to having a 'Christmas Day + 2' where you don't actually have Christmas until the day after Boxing Day (or maybe even later), once everything is on sale.
Just because a turkey isn't from a higher-end retailer doesn't mean it won't taste as good. So shop around before buying a bird. A free-range turkey from Waitrose that serves eight costs around £51.90 but cheaper turkeys from stores such as Aldi, Iceland, Lidl and Morrisons have scored highly in taste tests. Christmas puddings from Aldi and Lidl have also done well in taste tests, sometimes outdoing more expensive brands.
From turkey to Christmas pudding, you can save money on your Christmas dinner this year.
We've selected five of the essential elements of your traditional Christmas dinner and seen what's on offer at Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Tesco. Whether you're after gluten-free mince pies, Christmas tipples, or a three-bird roast for the Christmas dinner table, here's some inspiration for your festive feast.
With your Boundless discount shopping vouchers you can currently save 3% on your shopping at Morrisons, 4% at M&S and Tesco, and 4.5% at Waitrose. It's simple to order your vouchers and you can spend them on anything in store.
How to save on your Christmas drinks
This Irish cream is a classic Christmas drink. Serve with ice or treat yourself to a snifter in your coffee.
Prosecco: £10 for 75cl, at Marks & Spencer
Add some fizz to Christmas dinner with this lively Italian wine, which has fresh floral aromas and zingy lemon, pear and apple flavours. The 150cl bottles are available online, the 75cl size is in-store only.
Save yourself the effort of making your own mulled wine with this pre-mixed Winter Warmer version. It can be gently heated to bring out the flavours of cinnamon, clove spices and citrus fruits.
Mix with lemonade or soda to create a snowball – the sort of indulgent cocktail the festive season is made for.
Remember to drink responsibly.
How to save on the best mince pies
These gluten-free mince pies are packed with raisins, sultanas, currants and mixed peel, with a touch of warming winter spice.
Puff pastry mince pies: £2.50 for 6, at Marks & Spencer
If you're not a fan of shortcrust pastry, give these M&S puff pastry pies a whirl. They're filled with fruity mincemeat that's bursting with sultanas, raisins and currants. (Not available online.)
A pack of six luxury mince pies, with vine fruit mincemeat mixed with brandy, cider and a blend of spices.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with this tempting take on mince pies, which combines a light pastry case with a fondant icing topping.
How to save money when you buy your turkey (or other main event)
This British turkey has a buttery baste for moist and tender meat. And it's sizeable enough that you'll have plenty left over for lunch on Boxing Day.
British Three-Bird Roast: Turkey, Chicken & Duck, £35 for 1.4kg (serves 4-6), The Collection at Marks & Spencer
For a variation on straightforward turkey, try this three-bird roast, complete with a pork, plum and sloe gin stuffing, and a streaky bacon lattice.
Or for something a bit different yet traditional, why not try goose? These birds are from a slow-growing breed and are free to range, so the meat is full of flavour.
This hand-trimmed prime cut of beef fillet has been matured for 28 days. Chateaubriand is traditionally served roasted rare as an indulgent sharing dish.
How to save on the best vegetarian Christmas dinner alternatives
For a meat-free turkey alternative, this excellent tasty roast is finished with a Red Wine and Shallot Glaze. It's also high in protein and fibre.
This delicious tart is packed with honey-roast parsnips, Camembert, chestnuts, caramelised onions and thyme, encased in an all-butter puff pastry.
Pecans, pistachios and walnuts are combined with mushrooms, pulses, vegetables, seeds, soya protein and grains. This nut roast is full of flavour and goes well with cranberry sauce.
An appetising alternative to nut roast, these tasty vol-au-vents are made of light puff pastry and filled with mushrooms and baby spinach in a cream and white wine sauce.
How to save on your Christmas dessert
With a smooth chocolate flavoured buttercream and gooey chocolate sauce, this yule log is smothered in milk chocolate fudge icing; it will definitely hit the spot for chocoholics.
Classic Christmas pudding: £6 for 907g (serves 8) at Marks & Spencer
A true festive favourite, these puddings have been matured for six months with juicy vine fruits and generous splashes of cider, rum and sherry. It's available in-store, not for online orders.
A richly fruited bread from Dresden, this Stollen is the meeting point between a hot cross bun and Christmas cake, dusted with icing sugar. Its marzipan centre is coated in rum syrup.
And if you still have some room after all that, finish off with a slice of brandy and cognac-infused fruit cake covered with marzipan and icing. Now, about that New Year diet…
You can also find a handy BBC Good Food portion calculator, to help you judge the correct amount to cook and avoid food waste.
Support Christmas Jumper Day for less
Friday 14 December is Christmas Jumper Day 2019, when Save the Children want you to wear your most sparkly, glitzy and festive knitwear and donate £2 to help kids in need around the world. If you register for Christmas Jumper Day online you’ll receive a free fundraising pack with posters, Gift Aid forms, free knitting patterns and baking recipes, plus instructions on making pompoms to decorate your woollies.
You can also find instructions on how to embroider your own festive decorations onto your own jumper at the Wool and the Gang blog or sewing instructions and a template from Love Your Clothes.
If you don’t have time to customise your own Christmas jumper, you can save money with your Boundless discount shopping vouchers including 7% off at Gap and Superdry, 6% off at New Look and a 3% discount at Primark.
Save money on a Christmas Eve box
It’s becoming popular to give the kids in your family a special early gift on Christmas Eve, which may have derived from the tradition in Germany and some Scandinavian countries of opening presents on the 24th December. You could include a new book, a DVD of a Christmas film such as Elf or The Grinch, some hot chocolate, and new pyjamas or slippers.
To save money on buying these treats, don’t forget about your discount shopping cards through your Boundless membership. You can save 7% at Debenhams, 4% at M&S, and 7% on National Book Tokens, which can be spent at independent bookshops as well as Waterstones and WHSmith.
Get discounts on your Christmas cards and wrapping paper
Buy your wrapping for less with your discount vouchers at department stores including M&S and Debenhams. Or if you’re feeling crafty, why not wrap your gifts in recyclable brown paper and string? Brown paper is less slippery than gift wrapping paper so doesn’t need tape to hold it in place; instead you could tie your gifts with reusable ribbon. Or try the Japanese-inspired art of wrapping presents in fabric? You can save 3.5% on purchases in the John Lewis haberdashery department.
Avoid greetings cards and wrapping paper with glitter or plastic decorations, and foil-based wrapping paper, as these can’t be recycled from most household collections. Brown paper can often be recycled with cardboard.
With your Boundless membership you can save 6% at B&Q, 3% at Wickes and 2% at Argos. B&Q sell both real and artificial trees, with cut and potted real trees, and artificial trees including pre-lit and coloured options. Both Wickes and B&Q have real trees available for click-and-collect from your nearest store. And you can make savings on your tinsel, baubles and fairy lights too.
Buy discount tickets to a Christmas show
Through Boundless Tickets you can save an extra 10% on theatre tickets, on top of the existing discounts of up to 60%. Seats for Disney on Ice at the O2 in London start from £32.40 until 6 January, or just £18 for London’s Peacock Theatre’s performances of The Snowman with a live orchestra. The Horrible Histories Christmas show is at Alexandra Palace until 30 December, or from £11.70 you can see the Dick Whittington panto at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith.
And don’t forget you can save on Odeon cinema tickets to catch December’s newest films, including Mary Poppins Returns, The Grinch, and Aquaman.
Terms and Conditions
* New Boundless by CSMA members receive a voucher booklet worth over £170 inside their welcome pack within 30 days of joining. Vouchers include 1. £10 extra off Breakdown Cover. 2. £50 extra off your first Boundless-owned UK break. 3.Free river cruise in London or Paris or ghost walk in York, when booking a two night stay with SuperBreak. 4. £50 off Barrhead Travel’s own branded holidays. 5. £20 off when you spend £100 in store at Snow + Rock, Runners Need, Cotswold Outdoor or Cycle Surgery. Terms and conditions apply and will be supplied in full with your welcome pack. We reserve the right to change vouchers at any time.