A mother-of-two who used to spend £800-a-year on her children’s Christmas presents has revealed how she’s budgeted her family-of-four’s festive celebrations down to just £300.
Stacey Victoria, 35, a stay-at-home mother from Huddersfield, says has adopted a three-point plan to save money this Christmas – involving second-hand gifts, discounted supermarket items and homemade decorations.
The mother – who has managed to feed her family-of-four for £40 a week amid the cost of living crisis – explained: ‘We have had to cut back hugely as a family to be able to still try and keep the life we have and enjoy it.’
Instead of buying her two children a selection of new toys, the thrifty parent is now making the most of local charity shops and has purchased three second-hand presents for her eldest daughter for only £20.
Stacey Victoria, 33, with her daughters Emily and Isabelle. The thrifty mother-of-two used to spend £800 on both their presents but has now whittled down the family’s entire Christmas budget to £300
The savvy mother says she’s making the most of charity shops amid the cost of living crisis. Pictured: a £1 cardigan that Stacey has bought her daughter
The mother has been stocking up on discounted yellow sticker items since September. Pictured: the pigs in blankets the mother will serve on Christmas Day
She said: ‘I have grown up on car boot sales each and every Sunday since the age of four and now my girls do exactly the same. In the past, I’ve always made sure to search high and low in the charity shops as well.
‘But this year, I’ve used them more than ever. You’re not just buying and gifting second hand items, but you’re also donating to the charities who are undoubtedly struggling as well.’
In her most recent festive haul, the mother found two adorable Christmas cardigans for her daughters Emily and Isabelle for only £1.
On top of this, Stacey picked up an electric piano, matching stool and accompanying stand for £20 – a fraction of what it would have cost to buy new.
Stacey pictured with her daughter Emily. The mother says her thrifty approach is teaching her daughters about gratitude
Stacey is opting for homemade decorations this year to save money. Pictured left: a gold spray-painted Halloween pumpkin. Pictured right: The mother got her daughters to make snowflake decorations out of lollysticks to display around their Huddersfield home
The mother added: ‘I’ll send these off to Santa very shortly, as she was keen to show him her skills, since she started piano lessons recently.
‘For new gifts on a budget, I’ve used local businesses and there’s been some great finds, such as DIY at-home spa sets for only a fraction of the cost in high street stores.’
What’s more, the mother – who has set herself a Christmas budget of £300 – is also supplementing her new presents by making some handmade gifts and decorations too.
In a bid to ‘reuse and recycle’, she spray-painted her Halloween pumpkins in festive shades of red, gold and green and placed them around the house.
She added: ‘Other decorations can be made so easily, even if it’s just a ribbon attached to the kids’ drawings – it makes everything so much more special.
Stacey’s daughters pictured opening presents on Christmas Day last year. The mother had spent £800 on their gifts in 2021
Stacey’s daughter Isabelle pictured riding her new bike last year. The mother says she picked it up for £5 from a secondhand shop
‘In the past, I’ve also made my own gift tags from printed out pictures of my girls and I also cut off old wrapping paper for different tags.
‘I’m sticking to brown paper and brown string this year, as it’s so simple, yet effective and cheap.’
As for Christmas dinner, Stacey has already been making the most of yellow sticker bargains to serve on the big day.
She continued: ‘Since September, I have been buying some food items each week and then freezing them ready for Christmas.
‘Pigs in blankets and tins of vegetables are some of the items I’ve snapped up for only a few pennies.
The mother says she’s focusing on spending time as a family this Christmas. Stacey and her daughters pictured visiting Santa
Left: An affordable home spa kit Stacey picked up from a local high street shop. Right: A handmade Christmas decorations Emily and Isabelle made to display at home
‘I know some people might not like the idea of tinned vegetables, but they’re just as good as fresh and can be used along with any leftovers to stretch meals further over the festive period.
‘Personally, my favourite are the tinned potatoes with some oil and salt, cooked in the air fryer – delicious!
‘It’s also quicker and easier to prepare, so this helps me spend more time with my kids and I also save on my gas bills because they don’t take as long to cook.’
Although she used to spend £400 on each of her children, Stacey says the cost of living crisis has made her revaluate what’s important.
The mother added: ‘I feel like people are pressured into purchasing gifts at higher prices due to inflation, but this is very wrong.
Stacey pictured with her daughter Emily. The mother says her daughters will be writing Santa thank you cards after opening their presents
Stacey’s daughter Isabelle pictured cuddling a second-hand present last year
‘A gift is a gift no matter the cost. Materialistic items are too easy for people to find fault with or judge – and it’s sad to say, but there will be those who compare gifts and try to guess the price.
Stacey’s top tips for saving money on your weekly shop
- Bulk out meals with vegetables
- Batch cook and freeze meals, bread and milk to
- Bulk buy reduced items from supermarkets
- Use sites like Groupon and a Tesco clubcard to get further benefits
‘I still buy lower end presents from main high street shops, such as black socks or little stocking fillers.
‘But spending quality time with friends and family is the best gift of all and costs nothing.’
What’s more, the mother hopes that her thrifty approach to Christmas will help teach her children gratitude.
She added: ‘Emily and Isabelle are grateful for everything in their life and they even write thank you letters to Santa, where they tell him to rest and have a cup of tea.
‘I know they love Christmas very much and I do try to relive my childhood through them.
‘I am hoping for health and happiness for those close to me, as I lost my mum just before the festive season last year and she really loved Christmas.
‘All I want is to see the smiles on my children’s faces and I know I will have done my job.
‘I think the financial crisis has taught me a lot and despite not spending hundreds of pounds, I know the gifts I give will mean more, because I’ve put my heart into them.’
Earlier this year, Stacey explained how she’s managed to cook meals costing no more than £1.40 per head by picking up food from the reduced section and bulk buying essentials like milk and bread to freeze.
Stacey Victoria, 35, from Huddersfield, forks out almost £300 per month on gas and electric bills – leaving her with no choice but to shop in the reduced section in supermarkets
Among her tips for feeding a family on a small budget include bulk-buying essentials like milk and bread to freeze (left) as well as making meals larger with added vegetables (right)
Stacey, who has seen her electric bill rise from £102 to £152 per month, and gas rising from £91 to £144, said: ‘The rising costs of everything have affected me massively and have given me more of a drive to cut costs even more than I already have.
‘Both my gas and electricity bills have gone up by £50 each, but I’m not using any extra energy. By living on reduced and free grocery items, I’m able to have that little extra saved on the side for any surprise extortionate bills.
Stacey loves to bulk buys reduced items, as well as batch cooking and bulking up meals to make them stretch much further.
She said: ‘I have four freezers, so love it when I can bulk buy things like bread and milk, as they can last quite a while when frozen.
‘I find freezing meals works out quite well if I’ve made too much of something or have made a variety of meals from one item, like with mince beef, I can make a chilli con carne, spaghetti bolognaise and stew out of a big pack.’