Even though Santa is about to come down that chimney, keep your head on your shoulders, remember the true meaning of Christmas and you can’t go wrong!

  1. Shop around.  Christmas has become a competitive shopping time of year for retailers, and there are bargains to be had.  So go and find them!
  2. If you realize you have missed on a bargain, for example buy an item at a big name department store and then find it elsewhere cheaper, do not be afraid to return it (or ask for the difference in price to be refunded).
  3. Avoid a huge credit card bill in January by shopping with a list.  Take this even further by researching how much each gift on the list will cost, and taking that much case with you and leaving the plastic at home!
  4. DIY gift wrap and gift decoration.  Get the kids involved in this, using up spare paper, paint, glitter, any old school art materials left over.  Another good idea is to cut up the Christmas junk mail for colour and great pictures. Not only will you make a day in the school holidays go by quickly, you will be saving a bundle.
  5. Instead of Christmas card, print out family photos and have the kids write messages and decorating.
  6. Think quality not quantity.  A Choice survey found that 31 per cent of Australians keep or throw out their gifts, and another 20 person re-gift their Christmas presents.
  7. Go to a local Christmas show or event.  Check out the local newspaper for dates and details, free events are often run by your local church and community groups.
  8. Keep your food costs down by buying only in-season fruit and veg.  And to save even more, venture out to your cities wholesale markets and buy directly from the growers.  They do sell directly to the public, check online for the opening times.
  9. Say I love you with a homemade present!  At Christmas, make jams, cakes, puddings, cookies, soap, body scrubs, even cards, for your loved ones!
  10. Remember that at Christmas it really is the thought that counts.  Focus on the spirit of giving and rather than just a simple gift tag, write a heart-felt note with your gift.  It will be more appreciated.
  11. Why not make a charitable donation, like a gift to Oxfam or Vision Australia, on your family’s behalf?
  12. Rather than eating turkey or pork for the next three days, freeze some Christmas leftovers for use in cooking.  Vegetables are great for pies and casseroles, while meat is better frozen in gravy, and can be simply reheated for an instant meal or made into a yummy pie!  Save yourself time and money down the track!
  13. Pack up the leftover wrapping paper, cards, crackers, napkins and other partyware.  They can all be used next Christmas!
  14. Don’t assume the post-Christmas sales will automatically qualify you for bargains.  Shop with a critical eye.
  15. Give Gifts in a Jar!  These look great, and are great fun to make.  Put in the dry ingredients for your favourite festive cookies, tie on the recipe and you are done!  Or for something crafty, add some fabric, thread, a pattern and voilà!  Green thumbs can also create gifts of seeds, herb cuttings – the possibilities are endless really.  And cheap!
  16. People always start to feel generous, and start to overspend, at Christmas.  Rein yourself with a list and a budget before you hit the shops.
  17. Create personalised gift vouchers from family and friends in lieu of gifts they may not like or need.  Thinks outside the box – what about a voucher to babysit the kids for a Saturday night, dog walking, car washing, garden care.
  18. Always check the refund policy before you do your shopping.  Whether your recipient can return the gift, and the circumstances of the return are important.
  19. Do not leave your shopping until the last minute.  A pressure shop will always lead to impulse buying, and without fail over-spending.  Avoid this at all costs.
  20. A nice cheap but thoughtful gift can be a lottery ticket, a prize home entry ticket, even a scratchie ticket.  Placed in a card with a thoughtful message, these gifts mean as much as any expensive gift.  Remember, it really is the thought that counts.
  21. Host an old fashioned pot-luck dinner party, where each guest brings along a dinner.  Not only will it be fun and a way for all your friends or family to get together, it will dramatically reduce your catering costs!