Where does my cash go at Christmas?

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We're likely to spend around £24bn on Christmas this year in the UK.

More than a quarter of us will end up getting carried away and spending more than we can afford.

So where does our money go and how can we keep within budget? Here are the stats along with the tips for a cheaper Christmas.

Christmas spending infographic


Sally Chick from Rudry near Caerphilly explains how she gets Christmas sorted quickly and cheaply.

  • Instead of going out, encourage your friends to bring food and drinks to your home.
  • Avoid meals in restaurants. If your friends are eating out arrange to meet them afterwards.
  • If you're an office worker ask if you can book a meeting room, put up some decorations and have a whip round for food and drinks.
  • If you normally buy presents for a group of friends or colleagues consider setting up a 'Secret Santa'.
  • If you're visiting friends or relatives after Christmas Day, consider buying their presents in the sales.

Impulse buying

Christmas Money Planner

The Money Advice Service's Christmas money planner can help you budget.

  • Limit your shopping to one trip if possible - more shopping trips mean more impulse purchases.
  • Beware of two for one offers - it's only cheap if you need it.
  • Consider doing more online shopping where it's harder to be tempted. Follow our advice for using auction sites.
  • Talk to your family about what they really want. You might agree to give smaller presents at Christmas and put the savings towards something else.


Supermarket money saving

  • Plan your meals to avoid waste, impulse buys and extra shopping trips
  • Understand discounts to be able to spot a good deal
  • Know how to store your food properly to avoid waste

Cut the costs of food shopping

Last minute shopping/essentials

  • Plan, plan, plan! Write a list and stick to it.
  • Buy your first present early - getting started will help you gain momentum.
  • Post your Christmas cards early by second class instead of first. It will save you ten pence a card.
  • Be wary of doing your food shopping too early - check it wont go off before Christmas.

Family activities

  • Plan low cost activities like walks, visiting relatives or watching films at home.
  • Check your local paper for low cost events like carol services or switching on the lights in the town centre.
  • Search online for discounts on cinemas, theatres or other activities. Money Saving Expert keeps an updated list of cinema deals.
  • Play board games or charades. Have a few low-cost prizes wrapped up for winners.


  • Generally the earlier you book the cheaper the travel. Always check other options like train or buses.
  • If taxis are a big Christmas expense be organised. Arrange to share taxis, get someone to pick you up or avoid alcohol and drive yourself.
  • If travelling by car look at ways of reducing your fuel costs.
  • Consider car sharing. Websites like carpooling.co.uk, Liftshare.com or BlaBlaCar can help.

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