Christmas is a time for giving, and love, and family...but it can also be a time of stress and worry if your budget is being stretched - and that's not what Christmas is about!

There are a number of things you can do, to help enjoy your perfect Christmas, AND keep your bank account happy too!

It's the thought that counts!

People often stress too much about how many presents they should be buying people. It's quality - not quantity! When it comes to Christmas, it really is the thought that counts.

Why not create something for the family, or have kids create presents for relatives. They can write a story, write a song, or perhaps create a piece of artwork.

You can also do joint family gifts to friends and family - you don't need to send individual gifts.

If you can cook, knit, create, paint....and the kids will LOVE learning...then why not use this time to produce something that was made with love.

Create memories, rather than "things"

We are surrounded by big name brands these days, but it doesn't have to be all about "things".

Kids will find activities more magical as they remember the experiences, so why not take them to the local Pantomine, or to the nearest Santa's grotto?

It's easy to just make a list of the fun things that are free to do also. Why not go sing some carols, or go to a sermon. Perhaps there is a Christmas concert nearby, or some Christmas 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

There is no need to go out and re-buy those decorations each 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!

Indulge in those fun Christmas jumpers, include woolly socks in your Christmas Eve boxes, and get that hot chocolate going, and enjoy a cozy Christmas in layers.

This way, you can keep the heating down, and make it a fun 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

If you have a large family, it can be quite taxing to buy all those presents. So why not start a family secret Santa - where you 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!

Across the year, kids will create LOTS of fun artwork, so why not re-cycle them into wrapping paper?

It's a great way to save on buying additional paper, it's great for the environment, and it makes it 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 Feast

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

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

It's great for the budget, and makes the experience extra special because everyone has contributed to the occasion!