Christmas is only 21 days away, which means shopping centres are playing Christmas Carols on full volume, and the entire population of Australia is trying to escape to the shops to beat the heat. But, if you are anything like most people, you haven’t even started your Christmas shopping, and you are already stressing about how to pay for everything.

As discussed in a previous blog, the average Christmas present shop is going to cost about $440, meaning the total cost of Christmas could easily total $1,000. But, again, if you are like most Australian’s, myself included in this statement, you haven’t been putting money aside throughout the year to pay for this cost, and this leaves us asking the question, how the hell do we pay for Christmas!?

Below are just a few of the options you have to pay for Christmas this season:

  1. Become the Christmas Grinch
  2. Stop paying your bills
  3. Rack up the credit card
  4. Sell your kidney on the black market
  5. Go DIY
  6. Get a personal loan
  7. Beg, borrow, steal
  8. Get creative

Whilst the idea of becoming the Christmas Grinch is an attractive one at first, I don’t think many of us can really pull off the green fur. I am also assuming because of the title of this blog you are looking for a way not to go into debt this Christmas. Unless your a Pinterest pro I will also assume DIY is off the table, along with begging, borrowing and stealing or selling any organs. This leaves us the only other option – get creative on a budget.

The most important thing to note here, is that getting creative doesn’t mean going cheap and nasty, it means enjoying yourself as normal just without the cost.  But how can you get creative and not get cheap and nasty at the same time?

Step one: Calm down!

The chances are if you have left your Christmas shopping to 21 days out from Christmas you are beginning to freak out a bit, understandable, but now is not the time for it! Take the next 5 minutes to just sit here and think about what you actually have to do for Christmas this year.

Step two: Make a list and check it twice

This is the next natural step, when you are sitting there and actually thinking about what you have to do this Christmas take the time to actually write it down and put it into perspective. The chances are, when you have actually put pen to paper you will see that you don’t have as much to do as you thought, and if anything a number of things double up. Make sure to get rid of any double ups, and check to see if any activities can be rolled into a single to do item. This will make your list easier to achieve, and will help point out to you natural areas for you to save.

Step three: Work out the cost

You know what you have to do, who you have to buy for etc. now is the time to get the money involved and work out exactly how much this will cost you. You can download our free Christmas budget spreadsheet here to help you.

Step four: Recover from the heart attack

You put your budget together and you are now shocked at how much Christmas is going to cost you, hands up who has well over a $1,000 in costs on their budget?! I sure do! Its ok, the next steps are going to be focused on working out how to reduce these costs.

Step five: Present time!

Most of us feel obliged to give something to our boss, co-workers, children’s teachers etc. but who ever said we have to give them something we bought? Now, I am not proposing the big DIY ornate Pintrest gift hamper, I am suggesting more along the lines of baked goods.

For quite a few years now, I have given baked treats instead of physical items to co-workers, bosses etc. These have cost me very little, roughly $5-$8 a gift, and I have actually been asked to give them the exact same gift the next year as they loved it.

Here are links to three quick and easy recipes you can make with your kids for under $7 per serving. Just go down to Kmart and pick up a nice plate for about $2 and you have the perfect Christmas gift for less. The other benefit is, it keeps your kids entertained for an afternoon!


Reindeer CookiesSuper Easy Reindeer Cookies
Rocky Road Recipe
Easy Shortbread

Cost: $8 – $10 per present
Savings: $10 – $20 per present over 5 people that’s up to a $100 saving


Step six: Family presents

You have the non-family sorted out, now it is time to work on getting presents for family. I am not a big fan of the Family Secret Santa, but if you are open to the idea, you just put all family members name in a hat and pull out a single name and you only by a present for that one person. It will save you a lot of money this way, and you don’t have to spend money on 6-8 different presents, however I think it’s nice to give a present to every member of the family.

I prefer to buy individual presents for each of my family members, and yes this does cost quite a bit. If you know what you want to get each member of the family for Christmas, before going out and buying it from the shop, places like Gumtree or Ebay can be a great way to get near new items for a fraction of the price. This won’t always work out and it is important to ensure you are still getting quality but it has the chance to save you a fair bit on Christmas. Going down this path, depending on the item, can save you up to $100 per present. A lot of times these are an unwanted present or items that haven’t been used before and are still in the box.

Step seven: The Christmas Lunch

Christmas lunch, it’s expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. The easiest way to save money and get creative with your Christmas budget here, is to go away from your traditional foods Christmas food, this means no; ham, turkey, seafood.

Around Christmas time you suddenly seem to see the cost of certain items skyrocket in price, shop around these peaks and pick items which aren’t popular. Go for something that is less in demand, you may want to do a pork instead, or chicken, the options are plenty and not restrictive.

The other key to saving on the Christmas Food is to not to over cater. We are all used to having so much food we can never eat it all, and inevitably some gets thrown out, just buy the amount you know your family is actually going to eat. This has the potential to save you a few hundred if you play your cards right and shop the weekly sales.

Another option, is asking each family member to bring along a plate to share. This means you spend less time in the kitchen, and it brings down the cost of food.

Step eight: Cut the cards

Christmas Cards whilst warm and fuzzy are pretty old school, update your Christmas Card list this year by sending them out electronically you will save lot of money on postage, the cost of the card, not to mention you will be saving your wrist. Not sending out Christmas cards this year has saved me about $70, whilst not a large amount in itself, it is the little things together that will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Step nine: Enjoy Christmas

This is by far the best step on this list.

Implementing a lot of the above should be able to save you quite a few hundred dollars depending on your personal situation. All of these options won’t dramatically impact on the quality of the Christmas celebrations you will have, but will still allow you enjoy the time of year, just without the price tag.

It’s hard to save money at Christmas time, especially when everyone is busy getting caught up in the spirit of the season and spending money on things that don’t matter. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on Christmas in order to have an enjoyable time, and you don’t have to neglect yourself either. By having a balanced plan in place you can enjoy Christmas and not get into debt.

Elise Bentley
Brand & Communications Manager

Elise is passionate about finance, and is on a mission to explore and share different tactics for tackling the everyday financial challenges in realistic and achievable ways. With a background in communications, digital marketing, and public relations, Elise uses her skills to generate new ideas and content to help make finance fun.