Money Matters Team

We need to talk about... gifting

By Money Matters Team 29/10/2015

Looking for creative, unusual but not-too-pricy Christmas present ideas? Look no further! We talked to four seasonal super-savers tell us how they cut costs without cutting the fun at this expensive time of year.

Secret Santa with a twist

"Instead of buying each other the usual type of gifts, my extended family play 'The £5 Present' game. The rule is that you each buy one present for £5 and bring it along. Then we do a draw until everyone has a gift and opens them. But there’s more...

"This is where things get a little complicated... each family member gets three numbers. Someone draws numbers from a hat, and when yours comes up, you can either keep or swap your present. The presents are always really silly things – Charlie Dimmock calendars and learn-to-play harmonica sets have both featured in the past – so it's always a fun game, particularly when you wind people up trying to steal the present they want!

"One reason that we started the game was to cut costs. As families grow, you could be buying about 25 gifts otherwise. This is a lot more fun too."

Craig Thornton, 33, is a teacher from Yarm

It's about what you 'do' not what you 'get'

"We don't really go 'big' on Santa or crazy with presents for our four-year-old Tamarae. Last year we got her a bike as her main gift, then lots of little bits in her stocking. I love finding stocking gifts, and at her age you could buy an iPad or a yoyo – if it’s wrapped in Frozen paper, it would get the same reaction!

"I do love shopping but I'm thrifty too, so I think of a set amount I want to spend on gifts then try to shave off about a quarter of that amount. Then if we have to go over, it doesn't matter too much.

"I want Christmas to be more about what we do together anyway. It’s the time of year when we play games, watch films and do family things like bike rides. I cook a lot and want to start doing that with her more. We’re making a gingerbread house this year."

Nadine Brown, 33, is a senior food assistant from London

We go for experiences over 'stuff'

"Jade and I have been best friends for about 13 years. A few years ago we realised it was becoming hard to know what to buy each other for Christmas.

"Neither of us wants more 'stuff' but there are lots of things that we want to do. Now we each buy each other an 'experience' instead of bubble bath, for example. Last Christmas I bought us tickets to see Bend It Like Beckham the Musical, and she bought us tickets to the zoo! Past outings have included everything from going to The Big Reunion to the Chelsea Flower Show.

"It’s less stressful than shopping for something she might not like, and it’s worked out better financially too: we both know we’re spending money on something the other will enjoy."

Erica Wenham, 24, is a fashion and beauty PR from Middlesex

We have a present-buying challenge

"Last year, Rebecca and I were saving up for a wedding and a house, so we needed to cut our present-buying costs. We thought a fun way to do it would be to just buy each other three gifts – one for £10, one for £5 and one for £1.

"For my £10 present I bought a cookery book in the sale that was down from £30. For the £5 gift I signed Rebecca up to the Perfect Strangers Project, where you get matched up with another person and send each other a present. Rebecca received a parcel of little gifts from a French lady.

"For the last gift, I managed to get a mug with our faces printed on for £1! It was fun trying to find the best deals. I wouldn't be surprised if we try it this year too."

Adam Brooks, 32, works in marketing and industry relations in Somerset

For more money-saving ideas over the Christmas period, check out Anna-Louise Dearden feature on how to save the pennies and still have fun on entertaining during Christmas.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.