You’ve probably noticed that we’re currently plummeting head-first into the Most Magical Time of the Year. Before we splash down into the festive season, there’s just time for another RIFT Survival Guide. Let’s look at a few simple tips for handling Christmas without blowing out your overdraft.

Food and drink

The trick here is to cut down on waste wherever you can. British families end up binning about £13 billion worth of perfectly edible food in a year. That’s about 4.5 tonnes of the stuff.

Around Christmas, we tend to over-buy on food even more than normal. The way around the problem is to plan out your purchases – and spread them over time when you can. You’ve already got a rough idea how much your clan can realistically eat. Don’t let attractive deals lure you into buying food that’s just headed straight for the bin. Stock up on food wrap, too. A lot of what ends up in the recycling would’ve been perfectly good a couple of days later.

Shopping around is always a good idea, especially when you factor in the avalanche of coupon deals you tend to see this time of year. Don’t feel rushed into hasty decisions about what you need, either. The shops will mostly only be closed for one day, and there’s probably plenty in the fridge already to tide you over. Again, filling your freezer early will spread out the costs and avoid any out-of-stock problems on essentials.

Also, no one likes sprouts. If they say they do they’re either lying or wrong – and either way they deserve to feel bad about it.

Decorations

It might seem obvious, but you really don’t have to re-buy your entire collection of baubles and tinsel every year. Stick it all in the loft and bring it out again when needed. Old decorations can often be spruced up with a little artistic effort, and you can even get the whole family involved. Blue Peter has been decorating the UK’s households at Christmas since 1958 with nothing more than coat hangers and glitter.

There’s really no need to blow your whole holiday budget on fibre optics and lasers, and an artificial tree will give years of service with none of the clean-up or disposal problems.

Remember that you’re decorating your home, not the whole neighbourhood, too. A lot of people these days seem to spend most of their decoration money on rooftop stuff that only their neighbours and passing reindeer will ever see.

Think twice about crackers, too. There’s never anything cool or useful in them, so all they ever teach us is disappointment.

Presents

Okay, this is the big one. Choosing presents is becoming more of an escalating arms race every year. You’ve got to plan out your purchases carefully – and that starts with setting limits. Work out what your budget is, and how many people it’s going to cover. Don’t get panicked by “limited time” offers or too-good-to-be-true deals, and check our Black Friday Survival Guide for tips on getting the best from what’s out there.

If you’ve got kids, then a game they can play together can knock the heads off two snowmen with one stone. One carefully picked present could easily cover a whole sleighful of nieces and nephews if you’ve got your wits about you.

It’s kind of a sneaky parent trick, but sometimes practical items you’d need to buy anyway can make perfectly workable stocking fillers. Did you never wonder why Father Christmas always knew when you were running out of socks as a child?

It’s a tired, old saying, but the Festive Season really is about the people you’re spending it with – and the ones you’re thinking about. If you’re judging your holiday’s success by how much money you spent on it, you’re doing Christmas wrong. Break that mindset, break that habit and you’ll never have to break the bank to make it through to Boxing Day.

In need of a cash boost? Get in touch with RIFT to see if you're eligible to claim tax back.  We're the UK's leading tax experts.  We've been claiming tax rebates and filing tax returns since 1999 so we know HMRC's rules like the back of our hand.