Christmas time can be a stressful time of year, especially if you are on a tight budget.  Below are some tips on how you can keep to a budget this Christmas.

Planning has an important role when you are shopping on a budget.  Start by making a list of everyone you are planning to buy a present for and set a budget for each person.  Decide what you would like to buy and how much you are willing to spend and then target your shopping trips to buying just these items.  Doing Christmas shopping in this way will reduce the chances of overspending and you are more likely to feel satisfied with your purchases if you have put some thought into things in advance. 

Be realistic with yourself about how much money you can afford to spend and avoid getting drawn into feeling guilty about taking these steps.  Much of the anxiety and expectation we feel comes from the media and advertising. Be mindful that the goal of these sentimental adverts is to maximise the shops sales over the holiday period and pulling at your heart strings and feeding your insecurities is often a reliable way to do this. The underlying message is 'you'll have a better Christmas if you buy such-and-such (insert product)'.  When you feel yourself getting stressed about all the things you feel you should be buying try to engage the more rational side of your mind and remember the things that you have enjoyed in past Christmases.  You'll probably find that most of those memories will involve things that can't be bought or don't cost any money.

Wrapping presents doesn't need to be expensive.  You could either recycle old wrapping paper, wrap in coloured tissue paper, a piece of fabric or scarf or you could make your own wrapping paper using a seasonal stamp and some plain paper.  There's also a nice selection of free, printable gift tags here on Orange You Lucky.  

If you have a large family to buy for you could suggest that the adults hold a Secret Santa.  The idea is that everyone taking part puts their name in a hat.  When you have all the names everyone picks a name out of the hat and buys a present for that person and wrap it and put it with the other presents. Make sure you put the recipients name clearly on the parcel but not your own name (as it's supposed to be a secret).

One way you can make your home more festive is by attaching Christmas cards to ribbon and pinning them to the wall or shelves, or hanging the cards on string that is pinned between two points in your room (a little like a washing line for cards). If you don't want to splash our on a Christmas tree you could use some long tree branches in a vase and decorate these instead.  If you don't have any suitable trees or plants in your own garden then visit your local park or wood and look on the floor for branches that have fallen off in the wind.  Never cut branches off trees or plants that you do not own, even if they overhang your property, as this could be harmful to the plant and could be viewed by the owner as theft.   

Another low cost way decoration you could try is to make your own festive paper chains.  These could be made by using old wrapping paper, magazines or scraps of coloured paper cut into strips approximately 6" x 2". Alternatively you can make festive bunting by cutting large, diamonds of paper and folding and gluing them over some string or ribbon.  Paper snowflakes are easy to make and these can be hung from the ceiling on string or temporarily stuck to shelves and windows.  There are some handy tips on making your own snowflakes
here and here.
Sending out Christmas cards can be a costly business, especially if you have a large circle of friends and family.  One alternative is to send e-cards by email or through social media sites.  You can use websites like 123 Greetings or if you are more technically minded, you can create your own using a digital photo you have taken.  If you still prefer sending and receiving paper cards then you could have a go at making your own.  There are lots of simple tutorials available online or you could use a site such as Happiness is Homemade, which has lots of free printable cards.  

When shopping for food for the festive period start with some planning.  Make yourself a list of all of the items you will need to see you through the holiday period.  Remember that shops are often only shut for Christmas day and Boxing Day so you don't need to buy stacks of food.  Start by listing the essentials that you need to create the meals for this period.  Vegetables can often be purchased cheaply from fruit and veg stalls in a local market.  

Meat can be more expensive so think carefully about how many people you are feeding.  If you are just cooking for yourself or yourself and one other then you might one to look at buying individual portions of your chosen meat, such as chicken breasts.  They will cost much less and be much easier to cook.  If you have time it maybe worth checking some of the items on your shopping list on  This is a price comparison website that allows you to look up items and check the prices across different supermarkets.

If your budget allows it you can then start thinking about some snacks and treats.  Sweet and savoury snacks can be brought from discount stores or from supermarkets own brand range.  Other items that are handy over this period are powdered milk and part-cooked, bread rolls.  They can be a very useful standby if your supply of bread and milk runs out.