Getting through Christmas in a cost-of-living crisis

5 min read
December 12, 2023
Christmas cost

With many households struggling to keep food on the table and pay their energy bills, this Christmas may feel like a less joyful event than usual.

According to Barclaycard, almost half (48%) of people are planning to cut down on Christmas purchases this year, whilst 42% were limiting their spending on socialising.

In a time of political and economic uncertainty, the thought of putting on a lavish festive spread, plus the additional cost of lights, gifts and Christmas parties can feel a little overwhelming.

Here we give our top tips to help you stay strong and on top of your spending through the holiday period.

Be wary of deals

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all kinds of other special offers are much anticipated in the run-up to Christmas. Ads are plastered across billboards, shopfronts, as well as our TVs, radios and social media, urging us to take advantage of big deals and super savings.

Yet, Which have recently reported that six months before Black Friday, 85% of the items had been the same price or less expensive.

At this time of year, it’s so important to do your own research, rather than taking retailers at their word. If there’s something you know you want to purchase, have a look at prices a few months before to compare. It’s also worth hunting around different retailers to find the best deal.

Be careful when it comes to credit cards and payday loans

Christmas is a time when many people look to credit cards and loans to cover additional costs. According to, nearly 1 in 4 of us in the UK use credit cards to make purchases in the run-up to Christmas.

Particularly for higher-cost items like games consoles or furniture, credit cards or loans are needed to pay for items that most consumers would not be able to afford upfront. But these all generate interest as you repay them, meaning that these extra costs will hit hard in January, especially if you’re already struggling prior to Christmas.

Payday loans can be especially tempting but, as we know, whilst they are quick to come into your bank the high interest rates will hit almost as fast.

Our advice is to be very careful with your finances at this time of year. If you are going to go down the route of borrowing money, make sure you will be able to make your repayments in the new year. If you go on to miss a payment, it could impact your credit score and land you in further debt.

If you’re considering taking out a credit card or loan, research the best interest rates and make sure you budget accordingly. Don’t forget to watch out for additional fees such as charges for missed payments.

If you’re having difficulty with a debts before or after the Christmas period, organisations like Step Change are there to help.

Budget sensibly

It sounds quite simple to budget, but when it comes to Christmas it can be tough.

If you can, try to list things you know you would like to get before the sales start to come in. Plan for Christmas parties and events, and scale back on what you know you won’t be able to afford.

Being cash-limited doesn’t need to ruin your holidays or make you less generous. Getting crafty and making homemade decorations and presents for friends and family can be a great way to save money and makes for a much more personal celebration. You may find yourself much happier with what you have to give that if you’d panic-purchased cheap products your loved ones don’t want or need.

So if you’re worried about cash, try to work out what you can afford and plan Christmas from there – not the other way around. Most people will be in the same boat and will understand if you need to cut down on pricey gifts or miss out on some big nights out.

Swap big nights out for cosy nights in

It might seem a little sad to reduce the amount we socialise around Christmas, especially after years of pandemic lockdowns. But swapping the nights out for nights in will mean big savings.

Staying in doesn’t mean you don’t get to see your friends and family. You can plan dinner parties, film nights, games nights, parties etc. and create memories from the comfort of your own home (or someone else’s if you want to avoid cleaning up!)

Similarly, you can find cheap ways to entertain the kids – such as going to see the Christmas lights, visiting a Christmas market or wrapping up warm for a winter Christmas walk. Check out MSE Jenny’s Free Christmas Magic blog for some great ideas!

Buy after Christmas

If you know there’s something you really would like but can’t afford, (and you’re able to wait just a little bit longer!) then embracing the Boxing Day and January sales might help spread out the cost, particularly for higher-priced items.

Whether it’s electronics, toys, winter clothing and even fitness and gym memberships for the new year, a lot of items can be cheaper in January. You could even get your Christmas decorations for next year!

Retailers generally buy extra stock before Christmas, so they don’t get a bad rep if they sell out. Therefore, they will have stock they want to get rid of before the new range comes in. So, if it’s worth the wait, you may be better off.

Stay calm and seek advice if you need it

The holiday period can be tough for many, and unfortunately, not everything runs smoothly. But try not to get frantic or frazzled – the whole point, in the end, is to get some needed rest and spend quality time with loved ones.

Be prepared for the fact that, when ordering goods online, some orders get missed or delivered late. You may also end up have to make returns, to replace items or get different sizes – so make sure you check returns policies before you buy for yourself or others.

Whatever consumer issues you run into, remember that Resolver will be there to help you get you in touch with the right people and get the issue sorted. So you can fully lean into Christmas celebrations. 


If you have any thoughts on this topic, or any other consumer issues you would like us to cover, feel free to get in touch with us at

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