The trick or treaters have gone home and the fireworks are dying down.  It must be time to think about Christmas.

But when many of us think about the festive season the first thing which springs to mind isn’t old Saint Nick.  Nor mistletoe or wine.  Not even cheesy Christmas songs.  It’s the cost.

Here we go again.  Caught in a flurry of gift buying and over-spending. Every year we vow to spend less than the year before.  But always end up spending more.

Mostly because we’re buying for extended family members we hardly see or work colleagues we don’t normally think about outside of work.  And it all adds up.

So in the spirit of trying to save you a few quid here are our top five tips for frugal gift giving this Christmas.

1 Buy early

This first tip may not sound like much.  But bear with us.  You’ll thank us in the end.

Even if you’re a dedicated last-minute shopper, January is the ideal time to buy for Christmas. There, we said it.

In January the shops are desperately trying to get rid of their excess Christmas stock.  They slash the prices of wrapping paper, cards, and novelty gifts.

For a fraction of the cost you would pay in December you can have the following Christmas’s gifts bought and paid for before you go back to work after the festive break.

2 All hail the WI

Everyone has aunts or maybe even sisters they don’t see very often. But you know you will bump into them at the family Christmas get together.   And exchanging gifts is compulsory.

You need to get them something nice.  But you don’t want to break the bank.  What to do?

The great thing about Christmas is there are so many small fairs and events.  Every WI, church, village or town will have a Christmas fair.  There will be several near you.  And I guarantee there will be a jam and cake maker at every event.  You can buy jars of jam or marmalade, pots of chutney, and bags of cookies for pennies.

Once you’ve got a box full of sweet treats get yourself down to the nearest pound shop.  They will sell small baskets for a quid each.  Arrange your jams and cookies in the baskets, wrap a bit of ribbon around it and you have a lovely gift for the aunty you spend 11 months of the year avoiding.  And it doesn’t need to cost the earth.  We do this every year.

3 It’s a wrap

For some reason, people go crazy about a well-wrapped present.  Don’t be suckered into this nonsense.  Especially if you’re buying for kids.  It’s the gift they remember.  Not the wrapping.

So don’t buy the expensive paper.  Get the thin cheap stuff.  No one will care and you will save yourself pounds.

After all.  Whichever paper you use it’s going straight into the bin.

4 Tags

Admittedly this may seem a bit tight.  But don’t buy gift tags.  They are as big a waste of money as expensive wrapping paper.

Simply gather up the cards you’ve got over the year and instead of throwing them away, use them as gift tags.  Cut out Robins, Father Christmas’s and snowmen, punch a hole through them and you’ve got yourself a free homemade gift tag.

5 DIY

Still looking for gift ideas?  It’s time to get crafty.  As in arts and crafts.

But don’t worry.  You don’t need the craft skills of a Blue Peter presenter to make homemade gifts.

And the great thing is that everyone loves receiving a present which is homemade.  Even if it is a bit rough around the edges.

It’s amazing what you can do with a few old jam jars, a bit of glitter and a few tea lights. But there are hundreds of DIY idea you can copy.  Just trust in Pinterest and you’ll find plenty of gift ideas which will only cost you pennies and a little bit of time.

Use our money saving tips and have yourself a merry, but frugal, Christmas.