Money expert reveals the true cost of Christmas – and how to save some cash

We all know Christmas expenses can add up. Quickly.

Not only are there more parties, dinners and social events to attend, there’s also the presents, the outfits and of course the food for the big day.

But as these costs tend to spread themselves out over the entire month – and even the month before – it can be hard to keep track of how much we’re spending, which makes it hard to budget, too.

Rob Crump, a gifting expert at Printster, has analysed the average cost of Christmas by working out the costliest spends – including dinner, presents and decorations.

Rob has also shared some top tips on how to keep costs low and how to gift meaningful yet budget friendly presents.

‘Christmas is notoriously an extremely expensive time of year,’ says Rob. ‘From spending on food to presents to decorating the house, many find themselves counting pennies from the New Year.

‘Especially after last year’s Christmas was disappointing for so many, as we weren’t able to spend time with our loved ones, it is expected that 2021 is going to be about making up for lost time.’

How much does it cost to host Christmas Day?

On average, Rob says Christmas Day hosts can expect to spend a staggering £876.98 for the big day alone – which includes the cost of Christmas dinner, decorations and presents.

‘The most expensive part of this is due to presents, so even just guests who aren’t contributing to Christmas dinner can still expect to spend £608.34 for their day.’

This is broken down to:

Cost of food: £33.58 per head, £268.64 based on a group of eight.

‘Unfortunately for Brits, many key ingredients for Christmas dinners have risen significantly, almost as much as 25%, resulting in more costly Christmas dinners,’ adds Rob.

‘Almost everything from potatoes to turkeys are seeing an increase in prices. This has been caused by many issues, including supply chain costs increasing and even material shortages in the last couple of years.’

Cost of presents: £530.44

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the cost of gifting around the Christmas season is one of the biggest contributors to financial stress.

According to YouGov, the average cost of gifting back in 2020 was £408 and, much like most other aspects of Christmas, this is set to rise by up to 30% for 2021.

‘Generally, consumers are planning to spend more this year, reflecting how many families will be reunited after a year apart,’ Rob explains. ‘However, you can still have a great Christmas without spending more money.

‘Start shopping early, ideally in November, and utilise Black Friday sales, as many bargains can be found. Set a realistic budget and stick to it.’

Cost of decorations: £77.90

Research shows that the average UK household tends to spend around this much on new household decorations every year.

‘Not just including the costs of Christmas trees, but those who buy new decorations each season, or perhaps those who are just replacing broke, or tired decorations, the cost can vary from household to household,’ says Rob.

So, with the total coming to a scary £876.98, how can we keep costs down without compromising on quality?

With an estimated 50% of Brits getting into debt in order to foot the festive bill, Rob offers simple tips to save money and stress during the festive period:

Stay organised and make lists

‘A seemingly obvious suggestion, but impulse spending, especially when it comes to Christmas, is easily done,’ says Rob.

‘By making lists of everything you need to buy, from food to presents and, most importantly, sticking to those lists, means you can stay within your means.’

Opt for a Secret Santa

If you have many people to buy gifts for, for example extended family or large friendship groups, Rob says suggesting a Secret Santa can help keep costs down.

‘A misconception with Secret Santa gifts is that they are impersonal, normally favoured for corporate environments, however this is not the case,’ Rob explains.

‘Secret Santa gifts for closer relations means less presents to plan for, so you can take time to choose the perfect gift.

‘Set a realistic budget, which can be as little as £10, and choose presents such as personalised mugs or personalised photo cushions, with a photo you know your loved one will appreciate.’

Share the cost

A fun idea to help share the load is offer a potluck Christmas, where each guest brings their own dish to contribute to the meal.

‘A potluck dinner reduces the host’s work while allowing guests to bring dishes they know they enjoy,’ says Rob.

‘Spreading this food cost not only means less work for the hosts but less money spent too, as individual dishes can be made relatively cheaply.’

Don’t forget, there are other ways to save cash this Christmas too – from trying different money saving challenges, to making your own homemade gifts.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to make Christmas special – that’s not what it’s really about after all.

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