Christmas…..the most magical and expensive time of the year! It’s stressful enough having to get all those gifts wrapped, prep the food, clean the house from top to bottom
and sort out that fucking elf without having to worry about the looming credit card bills and overdraft in January. So I’m here to show you how I did my entire £1000 Christmas for only £100!
First let’s start with the most important thing…..the gifts! I started thinking about my gift list in September and began collecting little stocking fillers here and there from charity shops as well as winning as many as I could. If anyone doesn’t know me I’m a comper – someone who enters comps on mass in the hope of a cheeky little win here and there. It really does help give you the finer things in life for free! As a result of my comping hobby I ended up winning a lot of my Christmas gifts this year which was really helpful!
Here’s my gift list and how much I paid for each one.
My Mother in law.
The royal jelly gift set would have set me back around £10 in M&S but I spent 99p at my local charity shop. They had a clearance basket full of unused new items and I ended up buying the whole lot with 15 items in. I also decided to be a little cheeky and ask for a discount as I was buying the whole basket (OK I know it’s charity but I’m never one to pass up on a bargaining opportunity!) so they agreed and knocked £3 off the total price! Back to the old motto ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get!’
The lavender gift set I found in my local recycling centre for £2.50 – a search on Google suggests something similar would cost around £12. The clarins perfume was a freebie as part of a gift when you buy at boots so I threw that in for her too (a similar size at John Lewis is £19.50!) Finally, I got the chocolates as part of a thorntons bundle online. Each year they do different variety sets and this year’s retailed at £35 plus £3 delivery. I visited my favourite discount code site Voucher Codes and found a code which gave me free delivery and £5 off the total price so I got a massive box of choccies for £30 which I spread out amongst other people’s gifts too. When you divide the total boxes I received by the cost I paid it works out about £2 for each one which is so much cheaper than buying them all off the shelf! I also did this transaction through Topcashback (if you join through this link you get a £5 amazon voucher on me!) which resulted in a further saving of £3.57.
All in all the total RRP of these gifts should have been £62.50 but I got the lot for £5.92!
Next up…my father in law.
I won this giant hamper in a competition and it retails at over £150! Total spent £0. You can read how I won it here in my September Wins
OK first of all there is an explanation for buying my mum washing up sponges! I won 5 of them in a competition which you can read more about here Dishmatic winner mum said she wanted a couple hence why I threw them in! Obviously the choccies were part of the thorntons bundle, the mini toiletries were from my charity shop raid, I won all 3 candles in competitions, the bag charm was a free gift with a Superdrug purchase, the skin oil I won in a competition and I bought the opium perfume set with my nationwide credit card that gives you 0.5% cashback in December on all your annual purchases. This made the perfume completely free as I had just enough cashback to cover it! Again I made the purchase on Topcashback so I saved another £2.93!
Total RRP for my mum’s gifts was £101 but it cost me just £2.07! Yes you read that right!
My dad is a big model car collector and loves anything miniature! I managed to win dad a really cool prize of a laser cut car ornament worth £15 on facebook which I know he will love!
On top of comping I also like to write compliment letters to companies and tell them how much I adore a product in the hope they might send me a discount voucher for my next purchase. I don’t do it often but when I do 9 times out of 10 I receive something back. I think it’s really important to compliment as quick as you are to complain and if I really love something I will take time to send the company a little thank you. In light of this I decided to send coca cola a tweet of dad opening last year’s coca cola themed prize telling them how much he loved it. They messaged me soon after and told me they wanted to send out a free gift to my dad for being a fan and I received a snow globe with a mini cocoa cola truck inside which retails at £9.99. I topped off dad’s gifts with a mobile phone holder off eBay for a few quid.
Total RRP £26.99 Total spend £6.
I’ve been comping hard for months to ‘win Christmas’ and it certainly paid off as I won pretty much all my friends kids presents plus a few for my little boy!
Here’s what I won :
Barbie cash register
Barbie inflatable boat
Hamper of drumstick sweeties
Lunch box bags
ITNG fridge magnets
Set of kids books
Tractor ted goodies
Phonics book set
Baby all in one fleece
That’s an RRP of £199.98! Total paid £0. Thank you very much comping!!
My poor bloke – he got A LOT of charity shop goodies this year but actually we both love a bargain and he’s usually right there by my side hunting in the 99p buckets at Sue Ryder! I got him a selection of ties that look brand new and some skincare and shaving goodies. I also like to apply for ‘freebies’ and I managed to nab some energy gels and fragrance samples as little stocking fillers. He loves fruit cider, Jack Daniels and various choccies so I bought them with my nectar points at Sainsbury’s that I saved up throughout the year which made them free. I finished off with a gift experience day from virgin which should have cost me £52 but I exchanged my virgin air miles for it so it was of course completely free! I did however buy him some new shoes from aldi and some socks online which totalled up to a spend of £30 but the RRP for all his gifts was in the region of £100 so it’s not bad at all really.
Another one in my life who got a full on charity shop raid for his gifts! I got him loads of little second-hand bits like toy cars, crayons and chalks (unused) clothes, shoes and general boys toys for a fraction of the full price in the shops. I did buy him some bigger gifts but of course I planned, I researched and most importantly I waited for the perfect purchase time online.
I knew I wanted to get him a wooden play kitchen and chose one of the top reviewed ones, I should think so to at a cost of £149! There was no way I was paying all that for something that would probably get played with for 6 months max so I scoured bargain hunting sites for weeks looking for a deal and finally I found Tesco were selling them HALF PRICE and not only that but I had a load of Clubcard points to spend aswell! My luck was in and I pounced. I nabbed it at half its original price plus £15 off in club points plus of course buying through Topcashback which brought the final outlay to just £54 – a third of the original cost and a massive saving of £95! Result!
I also wanted to get him a John Deere ride on tractor but with these selling for £130 in the shops I waited for a sale and found it 60% off on an Amazon deal of the day and snapped it up at £52. Not only that but I remembered I had some cash saved from the nationwide recommend a friend offer. If you know anyone who is planning to switch to nationwide you can make a referral and you both get £100 free cash in your account 30 days later. You can do it up to 5 times so that’s a whopping £500 for free! I used some of this to pay for the tractor and charity shop goodies which made these purchases totally free!
Total RRP £279 total paid £52.
I must also expand a little more on freebies. I get loads of free stuff from different product testing companies and freebie sites and this year I’ve received literally £100s worth of things like beauty electrical items, make up, toiletries, nappies, baby creams, various food and drink, feminine hygiene products, hair care items and electrical toothbrushes all completely for free in exchange for a review. These would be ideal gifts to give out to sisters/brothers/nieces and nephews…..you get the drift. Here’s the list of freebie sites I use aswell as cashback apps that often have a freebie to new customers
Shopmium(Use code AACGAFEN when you join to grab a free lindt chocolate bar)
So that wraps up the gifts but while we are on the subject of ‘wrapping up’ (sorry couldn’t resist) please promise me as a reader you will never ever pay full price for gift wrap again! I bought all this years cards and wrap from a (yep you guessed it) charity shop for 50p each. Considering they are usually £3 a pop that’s a decent saving. If charity shops aren’t your thing I’m sure you will find similar prices in the New Year sales. Stock up on all your wrap and ribbon for next year while its cheap!
Also you know those charity Christmas letters that arrive on your doorstep each year? You know the salvation army, dogstrust etc…well don’t just throw them away as junk mail look inside and you will find lots of useful gift wrap and tags to adorn your gifts with. All my tags this year are from newsletters like these and I think they are quite cute *remember to make a donation to the charity if you found them useful*.
Alternatively save this years christmas cards and cut out the front designs as gift tags for next year. This is something I used to do regularly, it’s very effective and not to mention good for the environment!
That so far takes my totals to RRP £935.47 and actual price paid £98.99.
2. Shop at reduced times
Search the internet for coupons online or like I mentioned previously, write thank you notes to companies to get discount vouchers, then use them when the store has an offer on. You can use the handy app mysupermarket which lists prices from all major supermarkets and shows you clear price comparisons. Next (and this is when you can get really lucky) shop at times when the food starts to get reduced. There’s usually 2 times this happens, late afternoon and before store closing. If you’re not sure get friendly with the staff and ask. My local Sainsbury’s is around 4pm and 6.15pm. If you can combine a discount voucher with an offer or reduced item and you can get food for mere pennies or even for free! Don’t forget there’s some great apps out there like CheckoutSmart and Shopmium which feature regular freebies and offers. The absolute ultimate is combining all 3 (a voucher, reduced item and cashback) which means you could actually end up getting paid to shop – rare but I’ve done it before now!
Our family dinner this year is a little bit random as a result of my extreme couponing – it’s going to be half a Caribbean chicken (reduced) frozen veg like parsnips, peas and roasties (had a voucher for these) plus a chocolate log for pudding (reduced) all bought at co-op using my loyalty points to pay. I also nabbed some reduced cocktail sausages to nibble on and all my snacks I bought through cashback apps. Yes I realise it’s totally random my choice of dinner but I’m thinking throw it all on a plate and jobs a gudden! And seriously my couponing, cashback and loyalty points meant I only paid £1.48 for my Christmas dinner so I’m not complaining! It might not be for everyone but you get the general idea!
I’m completely sorted for my booze too as I won all of it throughout the year in different comps so all I need to add are some mixers and I’m done.
So that’s me. My random but wonderful Christmas that in total should be costing me £1000 that’s actually only costing £100, well £100.47 if I’m being totally honest, but what’s pennies amongst friends?!
In summary my best tips are:
- Comp lots (and then some more!)
- Save money off vouchers for when things are on offer.
- Save all your store loyalty points for Christmas 2018 – this made a HUGE difference to my Christmas spend.
- Don’t be afraid to get rummaging in those charity shops! They are a goldmine!
- Make friends with the staff and get all the insider tips on food reducing times and upcoming offers, sometimes it really pays to make meaningful small talk to the lady on checkout!
With planning, patience, using every coupon and store loyalty card trick in the book plus a little bit of luck you can do Christmas on a tight budget or even if you’re really lucky, for free!
Will you be trying any of my ideas next year? Let me know! And of course. Merry Christmas!
I hope 2018 brings all my readers joy and happiness and above all lots of freebies!
All opinions are my own and should not be taken as advice financial or otherwise, affliate links are included in this post but my opinions do not reflect that of the brands mentioned.