IT'S CHRIIIIISTMAAAS! The kids are writing to Santa, listing all the latest games consoles. Your other half is eyeing up some fancy gadget. You're planning turkey dinner with all the trimmings. And everyone wants to see the local panto, this year's Christmas film, as well as make a trip to a winter wonderland. Then there's all the booze, chocolates, stocking fillers, a few new decorations (the five-year-old tinsel is threadbear)... Before you know it, you're waking up in a cold sweat at night - how will your bank balance cope?! Juggling a happy Christmas with your budget can be stressful. But stop panicking. Breathe. Because lucky for us, Busy Bees Benefits, a provider of an employer-dependent retail discounts scheme, has sent us these top tips to save you dosh this festive season...

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1.    Don’t overspend on gifts

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Set a budget you can manage and stick to it! We’ve all been there – you need a gift for your brother-in-law and you’re completely lost. When you’ve no idea what you’re looking for, it’s incredibly easy to overspend – going over budget in a panic, or to compensate for your guilt of not knowing what to buy. Make it simple – get them a gift card. They can often be purchased up to 10% cheaper than the card’s actual value. Savings can be made and your relationship will remain intact.

 

2.   Get cashback

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Let’s face it – Christmas is the most expensive time of the year, with everyone buying gifts, food decks etc from lots of different retailers/supermarkets. But did you know you can make money back on all your online purchases? Sign up to a cashback website like Quidco and, that way, you can make a significant amount in cashback over the Christmas period. What better way to build up funds for the January sales!

 

3.  Look for discount codes

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Sales aren’t just for January these days! Many retailers will release discount codes throughout the Christmas period. Scour the Net for recent discount codes. There are lots of different websites offering codes. Sign up to sites like www.myvouchercodes.co.uk, or secretsales.com and they’ll e-mail you daily alerts for all the latest offers. Whether shopping online or on the high street, discount codes can allow for brilliant savings.

 

4.    Buy a supermarket discount card

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When the time comes to collect your turkey from the supermarket, there’s no question that your trolley will also be filled with a variety of other Christmas goodies. From the Christmas pudding to the Boxing Day treats, your grocery shop is likely to be a lot more expensive than usual. Plan ahead by purchasing a discount card for your local supermarket. These cards can be purchased at up to 10% cheaper than the card’s value.

 

5.    Heading to the panto?

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Kids want to do everything at Christmas, and it’s hard to say no. Panto is often top of the list for most families. Buy your tickets early. Not only will you have access to early-bird ticket prices, but some ticket providers offer discount codes that can be used in conjunction with these tickets. Current outlets on the Busy Bees Benefits scheme include TicketMaster, Encore Tickets and Online Ticket Store.

 

6. Cheap kids entertainment

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We all love panto, but if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative head to the local cinema. Over the festive period, Cineworld and Odeon have been known to show classic Christmas films, from 1947’s Miricle On 34th Street, Home Alone, right up to last year’s Christmas blockbuster.  Tickets are as little as £2.50 as the films aren’t new releases.  Great if you have family to entertain.

 

7. Save on your childcare costs

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Childcare is expensive and often difficult to manage when the kids are off school. Make sure you use Childcare Vouchers – they’re  not just for use in nurseries and can be used for any registered childcare fees. This will help save that little bit more money over Christmas.

 

8. Eating out

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We all love a good Christmas dinner. Roast turkey, pigs in blankets, masses of veg and gravy – we could go on but frankly our bellies are rumbling at the thought. If you’re eating out on Christmas Day, or want to enjoy a Christmas meal with family/friends in the weeks before, make sure you book your meals in advance. Check if there are any voucher codes/offers, or save money using a gift card.

 

9. Party season is here!

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Hosting a party? It may be cheaper to buy a case of wine online. Companies such as Naked Wines and Virgin Wines offer boutique wines from £3.33 a bottle and are currently offering a £60 off voucher on the Busy Bees Benefits Retail Discounts scheme. Also, check supermarkets for the latest offers as there are usually some great deals on crates of beer. But remember to drink sensibly! We don’t want any of those morning-after regrets!

 

10. Use social media

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Keep an eye out for competitions, giveaways and special offers. An easy way to find the best deals is to follow and check money-saving pages for offers.

Busy Bees Benefits regularly posts its Retail Discount scheme offers, be sure to follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook to keep up to date.

 

Do you have an Christmas money-saving tips you’d like to share? Let us know below!