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8 ways to hack Christmas when you’re stretching the budget

6 December 2023
Reading time: 3 minutes

Posted by Tom Hartmann , 6 Comments

8 ways to hack Christmas when you’re stretching the budget

When it comes to Christmas for your whānau, you want every penny spent to count! This time of year, is there any better way to say it than ‘cheap and cheerful’? That’s just what we’re after.

In that spirit, here are 8 ways to hack Christmas when you're budgeting this season.

1. Squeeze the most out of that spend

Especially with prices continually rising this year, we can all agree that more spending does not necessarily mean more Christmas. We’ve got to make sure we squeeze the most ‘Christmas’ out of that spend – as much uplifting fun as you can, however you celebrate. Especially this year, may your money choices buy more cheer!

2. Make a list, check it twice

Sticking to a checklist really ticks all the boxes for keeping spending on track. It keeps us on point, focused on the task at hand – the exact opposite of a shopping experience that is designed to keep us buying on impulse both in store and online. Check yours twice… at least.

3. Stick to gifts kids actually need

Kids need books. Kids need togs. Kids need shoes. Persuade whānau that these kinds of presents will keep on giving rather than a whole bunch of plastic toys that will only end up as landfill in the end. Have you heard of the ‘want, need, wear, read’ strategy for gift giving? Giving one of each makes sure they get something they need (and gets them reading more).

4. Comparison shop ’til you drop

Get the best deals possible by researching prices online. Beyond the convenience, websites are the perfect place to quickly compare. The mark of someone who’s good with money is that they compare options and get the best deal available. It doesn’t take long, but it’s worth it.

5. Use DIY gifts to make ends meet

Whether it’s baking, crafting or card making, there’s something undeniably special about a ‘do-it-yourself’ present. Low dollar amounts nurture our creative sides, and there is often more of an authentic Christmas experience in gifting homemade cookies than many a store-bought present. Get the kids involved too.

6. Give homemade vouchers

These can be for babysitting, gardening, oiling the deck, cleaning the car or anything else. My favourite was when my sister-in-law gave her hubby a set of chic wine glasses… complete with a voucher for lifetime washing. (Apparently he’s a bit accident prone while washing stemware.)

7. Make more memories

A family tradition of an early stroll on the beach Christmas morning can bring more happy memories than many gifts might. Which will we remember most in the years to come?

8. Stick to your plan (not someone else’s)

Each Christmas, there are two things working against us: the feeling of limited time (it’s running out!) and scarcity (there are only so many gifts available!). Don’t be swayed by the feeding frenzy out there and end up feeling that your money didn’t go where you wanted it to.

Comments (6)


  • Gravatar for Pardip

    19 December 23

    Be safe

  • Gravatar for

    30 October 23

    Too good to not share again with the community, acknowledging your advice.

  • Gravatar for Faye

    9 December 22

    Great practical

  • Gravatar for Cate

    8 December 22

    Good tips! We simplified things a number of years ago as the wider family grew & costs were getting higher. Now on Christmas Day, anyone who joins us just brings an inexpensive secret santa gift and we play the ‘bitchy santa’ game ( rigged so littler kids get the final picks). Everyone gets something, doesn’t matter how many ‘extras’ turn up, the fun is in the game.

  • Gravatar for Tui Williams

    8 December 22
    Tui Williams

    Thank you, shared to Facebook.

  • Gravatar for Kirsty

    8 December 22

    Sensible, achievable suggestions. Thanks very much.

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