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17 November 2023

Our tips for spending less on Christmas presents

It’s the most expensive time of year and this time it’s arrived during a cost-of-living crisis.

Hitting the shops to tick off presents for the people you love this year might involve less festivity and more fear around where the funds will come from. We did a quick ask around the office to get tips from our Consumer colleagues on how to spend less while still making sure your special people feel special. Here’s what they said.

Plan a day out

Tell a friend or family member to block some time out in their diary and plan a surprise day out. You don’t have to do anything special – a walk, a game of mini golf or some drinks in a fun bar – but the element of surprise, the quality time, and the fact that you’ve taken care of all the admin will go down a treat.

– Ruairi O’Shea, investigative writer, kaituhi mātoro

Use your reward programme points

You can sometimes turn points you’ve been collecting through rewards programmes into gift cards, which you can then take shopping for presents. You might be surprised how many you can get once you start looking around. I've just turned credit card points into Farmers gift cards and Airpoints into Mitre 10 gift cards – now I’ll turn them into pressies in the sales.

– Kate Harvey, digital journalist, kaiwhakahaere kaituhi matihiko

Make your own Christmas cards

I'm making my own Christmas cards this year, rather than paying $7.50 a pop. You can get 25 blank cards and envelopes for six bucks from Warehouse Stationery. I've got some cool old National Geographic magazines, so I'll be cutting out some pretty photos and gluing 'em on.

– Frank Ramsden Bradley, digital experience manager, kaiwhakahaere wheako matihiko

Buy online games on sale

Unlike many “sales” in this period, digital gaming stores offer genuinely deep discounts ahead of the holidays, so you can often snag a title for half price. For example, PC gaming store Steam is holding its autumn sale this week. Games can be bought as gifts and you can schedule when you want the gift to arrive, so there’s no need to wait until the big day.

– Nick Gelling, product test writer, kaituhi whakamātau hautaonga

Get your DIY on

This is an oldie but a goodie. You can make DIY cleaning products, preserves, pickles, powders, salts and facial tonics. Just use ol' mate Google for some inspo on what you could create based on what you have in your garden and what herbs you have on your countertop.

– Abby Damen, communications and campaigns adviser, kaiāwhina whakapā me ngā kaupapa

Make digital art

I like to make digital art inspired by the person I’m gifting it to. You can do this on Photoshop or a drawing app on a tablet device. I use Leonardo on my Surface Pro, but another popular one is Procreate on an iPad. Then your art can be put on things like cards, mugs, calendars, clothing – or just turned into prints.

– Imogen Wara, community journalist, kaihaurapa kōrero hapori

Do a Secret Santa

For my wider family and my partner's family we have a big Secret Santa group. That way, we spend energy on one really thoughtful present, rather than everyone buying copious amounts of things. Luckily, kids are exempt from the Secret Santa rule, so they still enjoy a bit of a frenzy on Christmas morning.

– Gemma Rasmussen, head of research and advocacy, upoko rangahau me te kōkiringa

Shop second-hand

Shopping second hand is a sure-fire way to save money on gifts this year. Whether it’s instore at an op shop or online, you’ll be surprised what rewards a little effort can reap. Not to mention, the planet will thank you. Unsure if something looks too good to be true? Make sure you're familiar with your rights when it comes to second-hand goods.

– Vanessa Pratley, investigative writer, kaituhi mātoro

Put money aside each pay day

It isn't going to help with this year's Christmas budget, but since I've had kids, I've put a small amount of money into a separate account each pay day. It's amazing how quickly it adds up, so the Christmas present budget is sorted. I also have good intentions of regularly topping up my supermarket Christmas Club account, but some years I do better than others. When I do, it's great having the extra cash on the card to buy all the Christmas treats and most clubs give you a bonus on the money you've saved.

– Belinda Castles, research writer, kaituhi rangahau

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