This festive season is a time for giving, and love, and let's not forget family...but it can also be a time of stress and worry, especially if your budget is being stretched. We all know that is not what the holidays are all about!

There are a number of things you can do, to help enjoy your perfect holiday season, AND keep your bank account happy.


It's the thought that counts!

People can worry too much about how many presents they should be buying people. At Christmas, it certainly is quality - not quantity! As the old saying goes, it really is the thought that counts.

So this December, why not actually CREATE something for the family, or perhaps have kids create presents for relatives. They can write a story, comp,ose a song, or perhaps create a masterpiece of artwork.

You can also send joint family gifts to friends and family - to and from the family. This saves you sending individual gifts.

If you have other loves and skills, for example you love to cook, knit, create, paint....and the kids will LOVE learning these activities...then why not use this time to produce something that was made with love.


Create experience, rather than enjoy "things"

We are surrounded by products, brands, and shiny new things to buy over Christmas, but it doesn't have to be all about the material "things".

As they grow up, kids will find activities more magical as they remember the experiences, so why not take them to the local theatre show, or to the nearest Santa's grotto?

Make a list of the fun things that are FREE to experience also. Why not go sing some carols, or go to your local church sermon. Perhaps there is a festive concert nearby, or some exciting markets where you can drink hot chocolate and try some delicious treats.

Make an occasion out of decorating the tree too! Kids LOVE that sort of thing, and will remember the feeling of putting on that star long after the latest Barbie or GI Joe has moved on.


Get rid of the "big shop"

It's so easy to get caught up in the last minute rush of food shopping, and without great planning, you might find you have a trolley full of impulse purchases.

Write a strict list, and buy the majority of the foods on line, or a little bit each week. This way you can control the budget more, and keep track of what you have spent.

Then, closer to Christmas, go with your list and hunt some of the cheaper stores. If you want lots of treats to share around, consider shops like Poundland for biscuits, lollies and chocolates. They are up to 75% off the major supermarket prices.

Great for decorations too!

And they are still the major labels!


Shop online for stocking fillers

Kids love the idea of having an overflowing stocking on Christmas morning, so stocking fillers are always popular, but the cost can start racking up enormously.

There are some really great sites, and even mobile phone apps - like GEEK - where you can pick up a range of fun stocking fillers for next to nothing.

Then, you can focus on the one or two main presents for everyone.

Shopping online also allows you to get greater discounts, and control the amount you spend because you can see it all in one go in your check out.


Re-use Decorations

Decorations can be expensive, so there is no need to go out and re-buy them year after year. What kids love about Christmas, is the familiarity of the home and family around this festive season.

They will create great nostalgic memories and connections with those little doll decorations, or that glistening gold star on the top of the tree. Make it a tradition to all decorate the tree together, and no-one will mind that the house looks similar to the year before.

It's all about the atmosphere afterwards!


Dress Warm!

If you live in an area that really asks for the heating bill to go through the roof every winter, just make your house like a cozy cabin! Canada gets pretty cold in winter, so this is a great one!

Indulge in those fun and colourful Christmas jumpers, include woolly socks in your Christmas Eve boxes, and get that tasty hot chocolate going. This year - enjoy your cozy Christmas in layers.

This way, the heating can be kept low, and you have created a fun new tradition, rather than something to be stressed about.

It's also great for the environment, so why not conserve some energy this Christmas and get the family under that wool blanket to watch those Christmas family films!


Do a Family Secret Santa

Always fun, especially if you have a large family, is the Secret Santa.

it can be quite stressful to have to pick up all of those presents for immediate, and extended family. So why not start a family secret Santa. This way, you can allocate all the family members just ONE person to buy a present for.

Set a price limit, then you can really focus on something special that the person will enjoy.


Re-cycle Artwork!

Kids will create LOTS of fun artwork across the year, so why not re-cycle them into gifts, or wrapping paper?

It's a great way to save on buying additional paper, it's great for the environment (very important!), and it makes the whole experience more personal.

You could also have a "Christmas Creative Day" where kids get together to create art specifically for the presents.

You can also make present name tags with them, or fun paper chain decorations for the tree and house!


Hold a Bring-and-Share lunch

We ALL love that great Christmas feast on Christmas Day - turkey and all the trimmings, but there is no reason that just the one person has to be responsible for all of the cooking, and more importantly, buying of the foods and drinks.

If you are hosting the big holiday meal, why not create a "Bring A Plate" lunch. Everyone can be responsible for a course (and you can have multiple people on the one course too) and a bottle of wine, and then you only have to focus on your dishes.

It's great for the budget, and makes the whole mealtime experience that bit more special because everyone has contributed to the occasion!