Thursday, 24 December 2009

10 free things for Christmas

Christmas e-cards

Christmas cards definitely seem to have had their day. Not only does buying and posting them all add up, but most of us seem to think it pretty pointless to chop down trees to make thousands of cards that are put in the bin within a matter of weeks.

But what if you'd still like to send some festive cheer to your friends and relatives? Good news, there are plenty of e-cards available that can be sent to your whole email address book in seconds, and some are even free. And many have unlimited space for your message, so you could even squeeze in your annual Christmas letter to boot.

Check out 123 greetings, blue mountain, e-cards and Ilovecards for free Christmas e-cards - and for free charity cards take a look at Treeaid and SOS Children's villages.

Free Christmas animation

Alternatively, for a bit of fun JibJab is offering to create you a free animated Elf snowball fight video. Simply find some photos on your computer of each member of your family (you can have up to 5) and the software will lead you through what to do. You'll then all be made into "elves" and watch the snowball fight animation begin! (This is also a great one to send to friends and family).

Free Christmas clipart

If you fancy creating your own gift tags, table decorations or party invitations you'll need some sort of Christmas artwork. If you're not inclined to create your own you can find heaps of free Christmas clipart here that can be simply pasted into your creations to give them a lovely festive feel.

Alternatively, you could print these free, ready created gift tags, certificates, Christmas cards and even gift wrap from All Things Christmas.

Free Christmas activities for kids

The Christmas holidays are on their way so it's time to get prepared with activities to keep the kids occupied. You can find free games, puzzles, or your child could even write his/her very own Christmas story featuring him/herself as the lead character at the Blackdog site.

You can create Christmas decorations and other projects at the AllFreeCrafts site and ActivityVillage (including Shidonni - where you can create your own virtual pet).

Plus there are some Christmas themed activities at the CBeebies and CBBC websites.

Have a read of Top 10 cheap Christmas activities for kids for more help.

Free Christmas music

Having a party or gathering but don't own a single Christmassy CD? Not to worry, the internet can come to the rescue.

You can find free Christmas party music and download Christmas MP3s of carols and music. If you fancy a Christmas sing song but can't remember any words, you can find the most popular music and lyrics here. Or simply create your own playlist and stream the music you want from Spotify or We7.

Free Christmas parking

Many towns and cities will be offering some sort of free parking incentive in the run up to Christmas with a number timing this with free festive activities and events.

If you live in Bridlington, for example you'll be able to park for free, each weekend in the run up to Christmas, saving up to £3.50 a day. Check out your local council's website and see how much you can save.

Free Christmas events

Although there are a lot of festive events that cost money, there are equally a large number that are absolutely free.

If you live in Liverpool, you can take the kids to free art and craft activities and Christmas storytelling at the World Museum. Anyone living in London can take advantage of the free events lined up at the Southbank Centre.

And if you're in Doncaster, head over to the Frenchgate centre this Saturday. Not only will kids be able to have their faces painted, there will be live magic, and stilt walkers and jugglers will be handing out free lucky dip bags.

Adopt our goal Cut the cost of going out for more help.

Free Christmas knitting patterns

Knitting has become incredibly trendy with a surprising number of us having picked up some needles for the first time. If you're an avid knitter, or know someone who is, Knitpat is offering a free, downloadable knitting pattern to create cute Christmas novelties such as tea cosies and placemats.

Free or cheap Christmas gifts

Christmas presents can add up to a fortune, and let's face it; most are simply dumped in cupboards after the big day. What a waste of money!

Why not agree to a "no gifts" Christmas with presents only bought for the children, or organise a Secret Santa? Or try your hand at making Christmas presents such as bath salts and cookies.

Alternatively, there are things you can give that will cost you nothing apart from a little time that will be far more appreciated.

For example, why not create a voucher that will entitle a parent to a night's worth of babysitting; an elderly relative an afternoon's worth of gardening or a child to ice skating/swimming/football in the park?

And if you must buy presents don't forget those loyalty points - you may have enough Tesco, Nectar or Boots Advantage card points for a few free gifts. And you can snap up a free Alvin and the Chipmunks watch here (you'll need to pay £1.99 P&P).

Free festive makeover

Finally, if you have a Christmas party to go to, you can look great for nothing by getting your make up done in a shop or department store. Big names such as MAC do charge a fee which is redeemable against any cosmetics you buy. But if you stick with smaller companies you can often look just as good, without having to pay a bean. Just try to turn up when they are a bit less busy, and make sure you're dressed smartly! Read 10 ways to look good for less this party season for more help.

Have a happy and frugal Christmas!

Get help from this Christmas

If you're feeling the pinch this Christmas, we can help!

First, adopt this goal: Make some extra money

Next, watch this video: How to save when you've got no money

Finally, why not have a wander over to Q&A and ask other members for advice?