Christmas is predictably an expensive time for any household budget.

There are plenty of gifts to give and food to share and none of it comes cheap.

Planning is the key to minimising overspending over the holiday season and avoiding getting into debt.

Here are some tips that could help you save a few dollars and keep you on track towards saving for your own home.

Budget
The first port of call is creating a budget so you know how much you have to work with or save up for. Setting out a budget in advance will help you prioritise between needs and wants and help keep your costs in perspective.

This will also help you determine when you’d like to do your spending – will you get gifts in one go or spread the cost across a month or two?

Remember to keep an eye on your bank balance and try not to dip into your savings if that’s not part of your plan. 

Compare
When shopping – always compare across multiple suppliers to get the best deal. Consider shopping online to see if you can save further. If you do opt to shop online, factor in delivery time and order your gifts early so you’re not disappointed.

Also, keep all your receipts so that you have the option of returning or exchanging items that may not be quite right. That way if anyone doubles up on an item or doesn’t like it, that money won’t go to waste.

With Boxing Day sales ahead, you may also want to consider if waiting to purchase until then suits your needs.

This might be an option worth considering for big-ticket items but it’s also possible that stocks will be running low in-store and you may not get your first preference.

Compare your entertainment options too during the festive season and include the costs in your budget.

A DVD night at home might prove to be a better option than heading to the cinema and less take-out will help you save quicker.

Keep informed of free community events as these are great for the kids and a cheaper day out.

List
Being organised is half the battle – by having a list of the things you need, you’ll be better placed to say no to the things you don’t need. If it’s not on your list, don’t buy it!

List who you need to buy presents for – this seems obvious, but if you don’t take note of the number of gifts required, you may end up with ‘just in case’ gifts you don’t need.

Another option to reduce the number of gifts required is going with Secret Santa or Kris Kringle. It certainly saves you a few dollars to only buy for one person amongst a larger group.

Be sure to clarify what the budget is and stick to it.

Another tip is to leave the kids at home while you shop – they’re pretty good at convincing you to buy things you haven’t budgeted for!

Create
While buying processed and pre-packed food is more convenient and saves you time, it is usually more expensive.

For salads, hampers, baked goods and such, you may be better off making them from scratch or sourcing items yourself.

Home made goods also make great presents like jams, pickles, biscuits and your signature dish.

You could also opt for being creative and make your own Christmas cards by using a family photo and reprinting it or enlisting help from the kids to make your own rather than making a trip to the Newsagent.

There’s also the option to email free e-cards instead of purchasing cards for friends and family.

Recycle
There’s nothing wrong with reusing last year’s decorations and wrapping paper.

You could also consider investing in a decent artificial Christmas tree that you can continue to use over many years.

If you prefer to keep it natural, there are a range of tree suppliers to pick from so keep an eye out for the best deal.