‘Tis the season to be savvy

There’s no shortage of joy in our budget-friendly Christmas gift ideas

OK, so it’s not quite Christmas yet – but it’s never too early to start planning, especially when we’re on a tight budget.

Some of us will already be worrying about how we can afford the extra expense, but rather than getting stressed out we could use the time to get some ideas for budget-friendly presents.

That doesn’t mean second-rate by the way – there are loads of things we can give this year that will bring joy without leaving us short of cash.

Read any great books recently? We could suggest to a friend that instead of bought gifts we do a book exchange for Christmas by giving away something we already have.

It’s more personal than plumping for any old book from Amazon, and we can write a message on the first page telling our friend why we want them to have it and what we hope they’ll love about it.

Or for a friend who loves a bit of colour and fragrance in their home we could grow them a simple flower display if we start now. 

Even though it’s the depths of autumn, bulbs can be forced in four to six weeks. We just need a glass container filled with some gravel or stones and the bulbs will take care of the rest. 

Good varieties to try are paperwhite narcissus, hyacinth or amaryllis (which come in a festive red among other colours) and we should be able to pick up a bag for a couple of quid.

If flowers are out, most of us know a foodie. If we’re someone who knows our way round the kitchen maybe we could put together a personalised cookery, baking or cocktail book.

We can tailor it to their tastes and leave notes beside the recipes about special memories we have of them linked to that dish. 

The beauty is that we’ve already road-tested the recipes so there’s no danger of them going wrong (as long as they follow them properly!) 

And rather than giving physical things, we may have people in our lives who would just appreciate our time.

It could be spending that time with them doing something they’ll love, like joining them for their favourite activity, or a film night where they get to call the shots.

Or maybe they’d just appreciate us doing something for them that takes the pressure off a bit – maybe babysitting, dogsitting or even a bit of hard work like gardening that’ll make them smile when they see the fruits of our labour.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis is a big fan of budget-wise presents and has even made official Christmas cheques that we can print off and fill out to give to our loved-ones on Christmas Day.

He’s also put together a list of 50 gifts for a fiver or less where we can save cash by getting creative.

But before we spend anything, it’s worth checking with friends and family how they feel about Christmas presents. They might be just as grateful to ditch the whole thing and save the cash too.For more tips on spending wisely at Christmas, see our advice here.

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