A thrifty mum has shared her three-point battle plan on how to save over £500 this Christmas.
Stacey Victoria, 35, is a self-proclaimed “savvy saver” who shares her top tips on how to see your money go further – especially for fellow parents.
As Christmas draws near, many people across the UK are looking for the best festive bargains and deals in a bid to keep frugal due to the cost of living crisis.
Previously, the mum-of-two shared how she saves over £780 on her bills per year by cutting down on water usage and getting the kids involved with money-saving activities. She also revealed tips on how to feed a family for as little as £2 per day.
Now, she’s revealed how to slash your festive budget in half with handmade gifts, charity shop finds and reduced price roast dinner staples.
“We have had to cut back hugely as a family to be able to still try and keep the life we have and enjoy it,” said Stacey, a stay-at-home mum from Huddersfield as she shares her expert tips on Instagram.
“It’s been extremely worrying and I would love to be positive and say it will become easier – but unfortunately, I think it will become harder this time round.
“I think we need to do all we can to put things in place to try and ease the pressure off ourselves.
“I really do feel that having handmade gifts will be treasured for a lot longer, than the person receiving a materialistic gift.
“It’s a low cost present, which still shares the love and well wishes of Christmas, as well as something they can keep. I like to give these sentimental gifts to my close family, because I can make them personal and from the heart.
“A box of chocolates will be gone in a few days, but something handmade will hopefully last a lifetime,” she told NeedToKnow.Online.
In a bid to spread the “true” meaning of the festive season, she ensures to include at least one handmade gift for each person – and claims she’s set to save over £500 this year.
Here are Stacey’s top tips:
Charity shop treasures
Apart from hand making the majority of her gifts, she also scours charity shops and car boot sales for cheap finds.
Stacey is a strong believer of “someone else’s rubbish is somebody else’s fortune” and uses her weekends for finding top bargains.
She said: “I have grown up on car boot sales each and every Sunday since the age of four and now my girls do exactly the same.
“In the past, I’ve always made sure to search high and low in the charity shops as well – but this year, I’ve used them more than ever.
“You’re not just buying and gifting second hand items, but you’re also donating to the charities who are undoubtedly struggling as well.”
Previously, she’s gifted these second hand finds to her kids, including a bike which cost only £5, a bean bag chair costing £2 and a Peppa Pig table – which only set her back £8.
Stacey said: “For this Christmas, I have bought my eldest a second hand electric piano, stool and stand which all came to only £20.
“I’ll send these off to Santa very shortly, as she was keen to show him her skills, since she started piano lessons recently.
“I’ve also purchased two festive cardigans, which only cost £1 each – it’s amazing what you can find.
“For new gifts on a budget, I’ve used local businesses and there’s been some great finds, such as DIY at-home spa sets for only a fraction of the cost in high street stores.”
While she’s gifted handmade cards with her daughters’ hand prints on, as well as personalised tree ornaments, the mum-of-two has also put her DIY skills to use in other areas.
In a bid to “reuse and recycle” she’s spray painted her pumpkins from Halloween and fashioned her own scented diffuser using anti-bacterial spray.
Stacey said: “It’s not something I’ve done before, but I will definitely be doing this again next year.
“I spray paint them red, green and gold, before placing them around the house or outside as decorations.
“But don’t forget after Christmas to wash them and feed the remains to wildlife – or keep the seeds to plant ready for free pumpkins next Halloween.
“Other decorations can be made so easily, even if it’s just a ribbon attached to the kids’ drawings – it makes everything so much more special.
“In the past, I’ve also made my own gift tags from printed out pictures of my girls and I also cut off old wrapping paper for different tags.
“I’m sticking to brown paper and brown string this year, as it’s so simple, yet effective and cheap. As diffusers are expensive, I have instead used a bottle of Zoflora and filled a pan full of water to a cup ratio.
“If you heat this on low for a few hours, it makes your entire home smell amazing.”
Christmas dinner bargain hunt
As she likes to keep costs low across the board, Stacey doesn’t believe in splashing out on fancy food items for the family.
Instead, she snaps up reduced deals months in advance, as well as saving her loyalty card points for a huge discount.
She said: “To keep shopping costs low, I use any loyalty bonuses available and different card schemes.
“One of my loyalty cards has paid for most of my daughters’ birthday presents due to all the points gathered across the year.
“Since September, I have been buying some food items each week and then freezing them ready for Christmas. Pigs in blankets and tins of vegetables are some of the items I’ve snapped up for only a few pennies.
“I know some people might not like the idea of tinned vegetables, but they’re just as good as fresh and can be used along with any leftovers to stretch meals further over the festive period.
“Personally, my favourite are the tinned potatoes with some oil and salt, cooked in the air fryer – delicious!
“It’s also quicker and easier to prepare, so this helps me spend more time with my kids and I also save on my gas bills because they don’t take as long to cook.”
Before, she spent a “fortune” on Christmas and claims she used to splash over £400 on presents alone for each child.
Soon, she realised it’s not always the cost of the gift or the amount spent on the festive period which matters, it’s the thought that’s most important.
Now, she’s budgeted only £300 for the entire season and while she’s gathered inspiration from the likes of Mrs Hinch and Stacey Solomon – the cost of living crisis has pushed her to make cutbacks.
Stacey said: “I feel like people are pressured into purchasing gifts at higher prices due to inflation, but this is very wrong. A gift is a gift no matter the cost.
“Materialistic items are too easy for people to find fault with or judge – and it’s sad to say, but there will be those who compare gifts and try to guess the price.
“I still buy lower end presents from main high street shops, such as black socks or little stocking fillers.
“But spending quality time with friends and family is the best gift of all and costs nothing.”
Stacey hopes carrying out these “savvy” hacks will not only help her to tighten the purse strings, but will also teach her children gratitude.
She added: “Emily and Isabelle are grateful for everything in their life and they even write thank you letters to Santa, where they tell him to rest and have a cup of tea.
“I know they love Christmas very much and I do try to relive my childhood through them. I am hoping for health and happiness for those close to me, as I lost my mum just before the festive season last year and she really loved Christmas.
“All I want is to see the smiles on my children’s faces and I know I will have done my job.
“I think the financial crisis has taught me a lot and despite not spending hundreds of pounds, I know the gifts I give will mean more, because I’ve put my heart into them.”