With gift-giving, indulging and perfecting the decorations around the home, the festive season can be an expensive time of year. As the rising Cost of Living is causing households to save on finances wherever possible, you might be concerned that celebrations will look a little different this year. 

It is easy to compare ourselves to others – who has the brightest lights on the street? Or who will push the budget on the office secret Santa? For those of us who are finding money a worry this year, it might be worth thinking of our festivities differently. We are here with some tips on lowering costs. We can show you how more sustainable celebrations over Christmas and New Year can improve our wellbeing whilst saving money and being kinder to everyone’s financial situation. 


Christmas lights bring festive cheer to a cold dark night, but you don’t have to light up the whole street! If you are set on Christmas lights this year but worried about the effect that they could have on your energy bill, consider solar-powered or LED options. They use less energy, look just as bright, and lower your carbon footprint. Why not try switching them off when you are not in the room, especially at night – this will also save you money and reduce your energy use.

If you are swapping out old lights, be sure to take them to your local recycling centre to reduce plastic waste.

Using scraps of old magazines and newspapers, old Christmas cards, envelopes, and any cut-offs of wrapping paper, you can get together with family and friends to make your zero-waste decorations at home. Paper chains and paper snowflakes will always be considered festive favourites, and you can recycle these afterwards or keep them for future festivities.

Why not have a go at making an old tote bag or piece of clothing into a stocking, or pin a homemade festive badge onto a jumper that you already own – a low-cost solution when you need that last-minute Christmas jumper?

Be careful to steer clear of tinsel and glitter, though – these can’t be recycled and cause issues for waste crews.

Gift Giving

If you are worried about covering the cost of Christmas presents this year, why not consider gifting an experience or a day out to your friends or family?

It could also be fun to search through charity shops for gifts – allowing you to find something suitable for your loved ones, stay within your budget and shop sustainably. If you usually do a present swap or a Secret Santa with friends or family, why not try a Charity Shop Secret Santa or homemade Secret Santa?

Shopping locally can be a brilliant way to give back to your community this Christmas instead of shopping online.

Wrapping Presents

We throw away enough wrapping paper to circle the globe nine times, but there are ways to wrap your presents that are more cost-efficient and eco-friendly.

You can reuse gift bags that you have received in the past or even old cardboard boxes. Old newspapers, comics and magazines can be used as wrapping paper – you could even select them based on your giftee’s interests – the same goes for gift tags and bows!

Homemade cards are a cheap and meaningful way to send your Season’s Greetings – you can craft them by recycling card and other materials you have hanging around the house. Usually, 300,000 tonnes of card are used in UK households at Christmas, so don’t be afraid to make your own, you’ll be doing your part to reduce waste and make a difference.

If you have any rolls of wrapping paper lying around, consider wrapping your presents using string or twine. It is a thoughtful way to wrap your gifts whilst reducing the use of plastic and allowing the wrapping paper to be reused. Why not place a little cutting of a Christmas tree or a cinnamon stick under the twine for extra decoration!


Towards the end of the festive period, you may still find that you have accrued lots of things – whether it be a box full of quality street wrappers or a Christmas tree shedding its final needles.

Nottingham City Council encourages you to recycle your real Christmas tree. You can book a collection and they will come to pick up your tree so that its chippings can be used in Nottingham’s parks and open spaces. Find out more here.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s website features a useful page on ‘What to do with Christmas waste.’ If you are confused about what you can and can’t recycle, click here to read their breakdown.

Festive Food

An estimated 5 million puddings, 2 million turkeys, and 74 million mince pies go to waste each Christmas.

If you’re worried that you may have to cut the costs of your Christmas dinner this year, consider it as doing your part in reducing food waste. Traditional meals can be prepared with a lower budget. For example, whizz up your excess veg into a seasonal soup or use frozen fruit as a cheaper option for a fruity crumble.

If possible, try buying your veg from the local greengrocer or from food waste apps, such as Too Good to Go or Olio. It is a lot cheaper and less wasteful to only buy what you need, to shop locally and to buy loose fruit and veg. Eating with the seasons is cheaper, kinder to the planet, and it can be fun to try new dishes. Beetroots, broccoli, cabbages and parsnips are just a few of the vegetables in season right now.

If you’re unsure what to do with seasonal produce, leftover fruit and veg or the ingredients in your cupboards, why not try Tesco’s ‘What can I make with…’ recipe finder? This allows you to type in the ingredients you have left over and shows you recipes that can use them up, have a go here.

Nottingham City Council’s website AskLion lists Nottingham’s social eating projects, where you can receive a hot meal at a low price in a warm and sociable space. It also lists low-cost supermarkets, where you can buy food at reduced prices – find out more here. If your child is entitled to free school meals, AskLion are running a free fun and food offer for families between Thursday 22nd December – Wednesday 4th January. Click here to find out more.

If you need help feeding your family this Christmas, we can provide food bank vouchers to ensure that you are coping and not having to cut fundamental corners during these difficult times. Please reach out and give us a call on 0115 985 3009 – we are here to help.

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