Express & Star

Money Saving Amy: You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy Christmas

As families struggle to get by through the cost-of-living crisis, the Star has teamed up with ‘Money Saving Amy’ in a bid to help families with some handy hints and tips.

Amy Grayland

Hello everyone. The countdown to Christmas is in full swing and so this week I thought I’d share some things with you that I’m not overspending on. Your TV and social media feeds may be filled with Christmas food, toys, games, clothes and all things festive but I’m here to remind you that you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the festivities, writes Amy Grayland.

Visiting Santa

The annual trip to meet the big man himself can be a magical family memory, but it can also be costly, with visits getting more elaborate each year and prices rocketing. But it’s worth considering your local shopping centre, or church, as they may have affordable, or even free visits to Santa. Ikea are also doing a free Santas grotto this year, as are Tesco, I believe that most of these are now sold out but do check your local in case any space becomes available.

Advent calendars

This year I won’t be forking out for any fancy advent calendars, I will be sticking with the basic ones that can be bought from the supermarket, they are around £1.25 from Asda and around 99p in Aldi, and there’s a range of designs to choose from too. The joy of an advent calendar is all in the excitement of finding the number, opening the calendar door and seeing what shape the chocolate is, not in how fancy the calendar is. In the past I have bought a book advent calendar but as most of it was actually filled with song or activity books, it wasn’t really as good as I’d expected and it ended up feeling wasteful. If you do like to do a book advent calendar then considering one that is just story books that could be reused each year would be a less costly idea in the long run. Alternatively making one yourself with books from the charity shop could also work out to be a better cost.

Christmas clothing

It’s easy to get carried away with Christmas jumpers, dresses, T-shirts, tights, socks, pyjamas and all sorts of various Christmas clothing. However, this year, I’ve stuck with one Christmas sweatshirt each for my children and they can wear that to Christmas jumper days, Christmas parties and on Christmas Day too, because in previous years I’ve bought multiple items of clothing and in reality, they don’t get worn much at all. I have a few money saving tips for if you are buying Christmas clothing though. Firstly, consider buying on Vinted, not only is it better for the environment buying second hand but you can also find some great bargains on there. Or charity shops are another great place for Christmas clothing bargains. Also consider sizing up, meaning the items will last more than one year. I size up in pyjamas so that they last my little ones at least 2 years, as this can be another expense that soon adds up.

Christmas food

Now, let’s be honest, most of us love the festive ranges of food, me included! From Christmas chocolate to party food, the supermarkets are stocked full of tempting tasty treats. But how many of us over buy and end up eating mince pies and chocolate oranges well into January and February? I know I have been guilty of this for the past few years. This year, however, I am determined not to over buy these things, it’s money that can be spent elsewhere to make the Christmas budget stretch further.

Christmas crafts

This is another thing that in previous years I’ve been guilty of going over board on. I would go to the supermarket and throw in a “felt Christmas decoration making set” or a “paper chain making set” with my food shop, and before I knew it I had a pile of these activities that actually, end up in the bin or don’t get used. They may seem to be only a £1 here or £2 there but that soon adds up. This year, I’m going to be utilising things we already have at home, and using those to do Christmas art and craft activities. A simple, but effective idea I love is to paint your little ones hands or feet, pop them onto paper and then turn them into Christmas trees or reindeer faces, then those pieces of art can be kept as a lovely memory too.

Next week I’m going to be telling you all my top tips for filling a Christmas Eve box for free!

Plus next week I’d love to answer some of your questions on the topic of money saving, if you’d like to ask me a question you can email me at and I’ll answer as many as I can in next weeks article.

I hope that reading this can help to ease any pressure you may be feeling over the Christmas festivities, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be magical and to make memories.

You can find me sharing lots of money saving tips and tricks on the run up to Christmas on my Instagram _moneysavingamy.