14:07 05 December 2012
'It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas' - and with only a month left till the big day, you may be entering panic mode wondering how you're going to afford this year's festivities.
According to new MoneySupermarket research, festive expenditure is set to top £22billion this year. This equates to £445 per person, which is 1.8% up on last year's figure of £437 per person. While for nearly three-quarters (75%) of people, gifts are expected to be the biggest outlay, for many there is also the mammoth food shop to think about. And if it's your turn to host, how do you keep costs down while still putting on a great spread? Well, here at MoneySupermarket, we've done the hard work for you. We've rummaged around online and found some of the best of this year's bargains available in the supermarkets...
Figgy pudding and festive grub
Before you even begin, it's important to plan ahead and get organised. You may even want to consider pre-ordering your festive fare.
All the main supermarkets offer this option and it means you can sit at your leisure, browse through your options and choose exactly what you want rather than panic buying items that you don't need. It also means you can avoid packed shops full of harassed and irate customers as you try to manoeuvre your trolley through the crowds - a definite bonus!
So, starting with what traditionally takes centre stage on the Christmas dinner table: the turkey. The cheapest frozen option we could find was from Aldi and cost £9.99 for a 3.6-4.8kg bird.
Asda's 'Chosen by You' small turkey (3.54 kg) came in at £12, while Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' small turkey (between 3.4kg and 4.4kg) costs £15.
However, keep your eyes peeled and you could find you can feed your family for a lot less than you imagined. Morrisons, for example, claims it can feed a family of eight with Christmas dinner, and all the trimmings, for just£2.49 per person. Check its website for their various 'menus' all designed to feed eight people on various budgets - choose from £20, £50 or £80.
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without chocolate - and there are numerous deals out there. Asda is offering large tins of Celebrations, Roses and Quality Street for just £5, while if you're looking for a present for a sweet-toothed relative, Tesco has reduced the price on Thornton's Premium Collection from £7 to £5.
If you're on the lookout for the Christmas classic mince pie, Tesco has reduced its 'Taste the difference' brandy rich pies from £2.50 to £2 for a pack of six. Continuing the sweet theme, the retailer has also cut the price of itsCognac-laced Christmas pudding by 50% from £12 to £6.
Morrisons also has a selection of party food at reasonable prices - ideal for Boxing Day buffets. Their selection includes party platters (which can be pre-ordered) for £6 each with choices including a traditional pastry platter, sandwich platter and continental meat and olives platter.
Or head to Tesco for frozen party food. The supermarket giant has a number of options in its 'three for two' offer including kebabs, mini pizzas and chicken wings.
Finally, with the first of the month only days away, don't forget advent calendars for the kids. Tesco has dropped prices on a selection including Kinnerton Peppa Pig and Cadbury's Dairy Milk, both of which will now only set you back £1.50.
Drink and be merry
Whether your festive tipple be mulled wine, sherry, Bailey's or Champagne, the cost of Christmas drinks can add a substantial whack on to your bill.
The good news, however, is that the supermarkets will do anything for your custom, and are all battling to offer the best bargains.
You'll need to be quick as deals tend to have a short shelf life but at the time of writing, we found Sainsbury'soffering a mix and match across cases of beer and cider - with two boxes costing £19 instead of £21 and three boxes costing just £24.
The supermarket has also slashed prices on a number of spirits. For example Bombay Sapphire Gin is now £17instead of £26.74 and Glenfiddich malt whiskey is now £13 rather than £17.09.
Asda's offering includes Bailey's Irish Cream for £8 instead of £13, while a bottle of Tio Pepe Fino sherry will cost you £8.47 instead of the usual £9.97.
If you're looking for luxury drinks without the hefty price tag then you may want to head to Aldi. Last week saw it launch its premium drinks range, which, it claims, will see high end wines and spirits cost a whopping 225% lessthan its usual market price. For example, you could get your hands on a bottle of Grand Cru Classe 2004 Margauxfor £22.99 rather than £43.82 and a 1973 vintage brandy for £24.99 as opposed to £87.
Deck the halls
Of course you'll want to dress your home for the occasion too, but it doesn't have to break the bank. M&S is currently running a three-for-two offer where you get the cheapest item free and this encompasses Christmas trees, wreaths, baubles, card holders and other decorations.
Asda has a great offer on a six-foot artificial Christmas tree for only £20 and a pack of 10 tree crackers will cost you just £2. A three-in-one festive table runner is also on offer for £3 and you can bag 20 holly-themed napkins for just £1.50.
And if costs are still too high...
Despite shopping around for the cheapest bargains, you may still find it a stretch to cover the cost of Christmas. If that is the case, it may be worth applying for a credit card that allows you a long interest-free period on purchases, so you can pay any extra costs off over the course of the year.
The M&S credit card, for example, gives you a generous 15 months' interest-free on purchases. This would allow you some breathing space after the festive period to get your finances in order and pay off what you owe. Be aware though, it has a hefty representative APR of 15.9% (variable), so you would need to make sure you have paid off your debt before that time.
Finally, don't forget to make the most of any loyalty points and vouchers you have built up during the year. If, for example you are a Tesco Clubcard credit card holder, you will receive one point for every £4 you spend on your card, wherever you are. These are then converted into vouchers, which you can exchange for double their value.
It is a great way to make your money go further as you can then spend them on a range of festive products in selected departments within the store.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.
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