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$1.5bn: How to make Covid-19 Christmas your cheapest ever

·4-min read
Angry female Santa breaking her piggybank with a hammer
How to make Covid Christmas your cheapest ever. Source: Getty

This Christmas is going to be one like no other – times are tight and Aussies are getting more sensible this silly season - to the tune of $1.5 billion.

New research by reveals this 8 per cent drop in the intended spend across presents, entertainment and – of course – travel.

But we’re still planning on forking out a collective $17.3 billion on the festivities. So staying on track financially is going to be very much a case of not keeping up with the Joneses…in fact, drag them down to pandemic level! Particularly those you’re related to.

With a bit of planning, you could ensure the same amount of festive fun at a fraction of the usual cost.

Saving on presents

Finder’s research suggests we will each spend $391. This is the biggest expense, just eclipsing $352 on now-limited travel.

My no.1 tip is to avoid the panic purchase. Don’t leave it too late whatever you do… consider shopping online and in sales instead.

Remember, Black Friday is on November 27 and Cyber Monday on November 30 this year and could save you a fortune. They’re also 100 per cent socially distant.

And have a proper plan when you shop; present paralysis – or being clueless about what to buy – leads to panic purchasing. And it’s too easy to grab just one extra thing for one person… and then create rapidly escalating expense as you try and ‘even it up’, often last-minute, for everyone else.

But my family does it differently than all that... the Stealing Santa version of secret Santa, that is rapidly gaining in popularity.

Crucially, everyone only has to purchase one present, rather than one for everyone. Which very much suits the times.

Now, this present is for no particular person, and we cap the value at $50 and find that the funnier/kookier/more embarrassing, the better.

First you pile the motley selection under the tree, next you draw numbers out of a hat and then you open the presents in that order. Everyone watches as each successive present is unveiled.

The stealing bit is that everyone who subsequently opens a present is allowed to – yep – nick any previously unwrapped and revealed present. So forcibly swap it for whatever they have opened.

So if you draw number ‘1’ out of the hat, prepare to be stuck with the DIY plumbing kit. Or maybe the Karma Sutra... because no one wants to keep that with their grandma watching!

It’s plenty of laughs, providing a great activity for the day too, and a smidgeon of the usual cost.

Finally, for the kids, keep a lid on the present load. We all know that small children like the box and wrapping best anyway.

Saving on entertaining

Now there’s no reason one person has to shoulder the burden of the Christmas feast… either the effort or the expense. For goodness sakes, if you don’t usually, this is the year to get everyone to contribute.

It’s just far more relaxing and fiscally responsible.

Everyone will probably love it, too. After all, most people have a hero dish they want to show off. One year we had two people bring a trifle… and we controversially held a blind tasting and rating.

Maybe don’t do that if you want to keep family relations sweet!

But do get Googling the leftovers – you should be able to eat FREE for the next three days. Turkey curry, prawn cocktail, ham fettuccine carbonara… the options are endless if you get creatively culinary.

Saving on holidays and kids activities

Go coupon clipping. Or more specifically, get your voucher on.

There are discounts available through all sorts of associations and automobile clubs…be sure to tap into them for your every family outing.

My favourite is The Entertainment Book, which costs about $70 and has thousands of discount offerings in your local area. Better still, you buy it through pretty much whichever charity you support, so it’s great fundraising for them.

And for goodness sake, think ahead to what the kids will want to buy food and drink-wise when you’re out, and bring your own. Venues, theme parks and cinemas are in a league of their own with popcorn and make a fortune from these sales.

A final thought

With roughly seven weeks until Christmas, if you spread purchases across your remaining pays, it would be like Afterpay…but in clever advance. With time up your sleeve, you could even use old-school lay-by.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is the author of How to Get Mortgage-Free Like Me, available at Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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