Thrifty mum reveals secrets to making your kids feel like they have tons of presents without it costing a fortune | The Sun

WITH not long to go until Christmas loads of us are scrimping and saving to make the day as special as possible.

But this thrifty mum revealed a few secrets to make your kids feel like they've got loads of presents without spending a fortune.

Freelancer Vicky Smith, 38, from Berkshire says she started to become more conscious of her budget after having kids. 

“I became more conscious of my budget after having kids. I was made redundant from my job shortly after returning from my second maternity leave," she explained.

“While I grew my own freelance business I felt I needed to be more careful with my spending – as you never know when your income can take a hit. 

“I also wanted to ensure I was saving money for the children regularly, so I put more effort into making things go further and making sensible purchases. 


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“There’s so much peace of mind to be gained by saving money and growing your savings pot, whether for a rainy day or to save for big purchases.”

Vicky, who is a blogger at More Than A Mummy, started her Christmas shopping in September and likes to have it all finished by the end of November.

The freelancer, who is mum to two daughters aged four and six, said her Christmas organisation relies on having lists which set out budgets. 

This includes what she is buying for people, what food they need, and a master to-do list featuring all the things she needs to get done in the run-up to Christmas. 

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Vicky said: “My biggest spend will be on presents for the kids, as I tend to only buy smaller gifts for the adults in the family. 

“I write down (in a notebook I keep tucked away from kids) what everyone would like for Christmas and start to research prices. 

“Writing down exactly what I’m buying and the cost, then ticking it off as I go means I stick to the budget. 

“I will sometimes take advantage of Black Friday prices so will leave certain items until the sales in the run up to Christmas. 

“I will monitor the prices of big ticket items I have my eye on for a few months before purchasing so that I can ensure I get the best price.”

The savvy mum shared some of her top tips for making your money go further.

She follows a ‘three gift rule’ – she gets them something they want, something they need and something they can read.

The savvy mum said this is the perfect way to ensure they get a variety of things by focusing on three different categories. 

She said: “My best thrifty tip for getting lots of gifts for the kids without blowing the budget is to rely on the three gifts rule.

“They may want a new doll, need a new coat and then I may get them the latest book in a series they have been reading. 

“I also find much of the excitement regarding Christmas is in the presentation – say for example you’ve kitted your child out with everything they need to fill their pencil case for school next term. 

“I don’t put everything in the pencil case and then wrap the pencil case, I take everything out and wrap it individually. 

“That way they have loads of things to open rather than one big thing.”

Vicky said this is a thrifty secret she uses to add to the excitement of Christmas on a budget. 

The savvy mum added: “You can also make the act of opening the gift more exciting by wrapping up a few mini chocolate bars or bags of sweets to go in their stockings. 

“These are cheap, but the kids will love to open them and count up how many they have.

Shop smart and look for bargains

“Another way to ensure you can afford lots of pressies for the kids is to shop smart.

''Take advantage of sales in the run up to Christmas and check bargain bins and clearance aisles. 

"However, always research prices to avoid getting conned – sometimes sales prices are not all they are cracked up to be!"

The mum suggested looking for cheaper versions of toys on your kids' Christmas list and avoiding name-brands.

Vicky said there’s so many people selling unwanted bargains on eBay or Facebook Marketplace, many of which look brand new, so you could even nab a second hand bargain.

She explained: “You can get your child’s most wished for gift at a fraction of the price! If you are shopping online, take advantage of cashback websites – this is an easy way to make savings on Christmas gifts! 

“As December is so heavily commercial, with lots of pressure to buy stuff, I avoid impulse purchasing by having a minimum five-day cooling off period. 

“If I still feel I need it after five days then I will buy it, but if it’s clear this is just something I want then I won’t do it. This ensures I stay within budget.”

Make Christmas food last longer

When it comes to food, Vicky writes a list of everything she will need for Christmas week – including snacks and party food. 

Then she does a big shop in the week before Christmas Day. She doesn’t order a turkey in advance and has never had an issue finding one to buy the day before Christmas Eve. 

When it comes to saving money on Christmas dinner, the thrifty mum said it’s important to have a plan of exactly what you will eat on the day. 

She said: “It can be tempting to stuff your fridge full of nibbles and party food, but you may find a lot of food is wasted come Boxing Day.

“If you don’t mind waiting until the last minute to buy the food for Christmas Day you can save by shopping in the yellow sticker (discounted food about to go out of date) section. 

“When shopping for Christmas food you can also save money by avoiding the higher priced luxury range – the supermarket range is cheaper and there’s often not much difference. 

“I also highly recommend planning how to use your leftovers after Christmas so that you make the most of the food.”

Vicky explained that it can be easy for parents to become overwhelmed with the amount of pressure to spend at Christmas. 

So she encouraged people to take a deep breath and remind themselves that a huge part of the magic of Christmas for kids is in the theatre of the occasion, rather than the physical gifts. 

She said families should focus on the fun, decorating the tree together, going for walks to spot Christmas lights and putting out the carrot and mince pie for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Vicky added: “It’s the fun and excitement that kids remember more than the actual things they open on Christmas Day. 

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“Be clear on your budget in advance and track your spending throughout. This will ensure you avoid a post-Christmas budget hangover in January!”

Check out more of Vicky’s thrifty tips at

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