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Saving money over the party season

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December is the most wonderful time of the year – and also the most expensive. Here are some tips for getting into the party spirit without overspending.

Use gatherings as an opportunity to deliver Christmas cards

According to Georgie Frost, presenter of Share Radio’s Consuming Issues, planning ahead can save you some serious cash when it comes to sending out Christmas cards. As long as you get those cards in the mail by 18 December, she says, you can get away with using a second class stamp.

If you miss the deadline, there are other cheap options. She explains: “Most people will be seeing close friends and family over the Christmas period, so hand-deliver your cards.

“If your family or friends live further afield, drop them a Christmas email. Type ‘e-card’ into Google and there are dozens of companies with a variety of fun e-cards to choose from.”

Rent a dress for the festivities

With multiple parties to attend, women in particular can see their Christmas budget suffer as they struggle to find a different frock for every event.

One simple answer, of course, is to repeat outfits. But if you would rather not be a repeat offender, borrowing something from friends or family could be a great money saving trick. If you find the wardrobes of the ones you love lacking, consider renting a dress.

That’s right – renting a dress.

Anna Bance, founder dress rental service Girl Meets Dress, says: “Celebrities have always borrowed dresses for special events, and now, with the proliferation of social media including Instagram, everyone is a mini-celebrity in their own world. You can no longer repeat outfits because your friends have seen it on social media.”

Renting a dress is fairly simple. Simply order a selection of dresses and sizes online for a fraction of the retail price, try them on and send back whichever pieces you don’t want to wear. Services and terms vary company to company, but Girl Meets Dress has a no risk policy – if none of the dresses fit, send them back within 24 hours and you don’t pay a pound.

Bance explains: “Renting your festive dresses this Christmas is the perfect way for consumers to have fun wearing more relevant, trend led fashions while trying new designer brands while buying only in those classic pieces which will stand the test of time.”

Don’t be afraid to pinch pennies on the booze

Unless you’re friends with some serious winos, most people won’t be able to tell the difference between a £7.50 bottle of wine and it’s much more expensive counterpart. Don’t be afraid of going mid-range for you alcohol. With a bit of research you can get an excellent bottle for an even better price.

Also think about buying in bulk. At Majestic you can often get £10 or £11 bottles of wine for around £7 provided you take home six bottles – just enough to see you through the season.

Shopping around for your festive tipple can also make a major difference. Discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl are making serious waves in the food retail sector for just this reason – don’t be afraid to check them out. Frost says: “Use comparison websites such as Quaffers’. You can compare prices of alcohol from all the UK’s supermarkets as well as specialist wine sellers.”

Make it a potluck

If you’re hosting a party you might as well make it a potluck. Asking everyone to bring a dish not only involves your guests in the festive sprit but saves you a bundle on filo prawns and camembert parcels. Assigning guests courses prevents overlap – just be sure not to request a full roast turkey from some unsuspecting invitee.

Frost says: “According to Travelodge families will spend an average of £118 on Christmas dinner this year. So, if you’re having friends around for dinner this Christmas ask them to bring a little something. It’s the least they can do for the host!”

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