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Have yourself a smart Christmas at Fort Kinnaird

Festive hacks for food, gifting, decorations and more

Christmas is coming… and with it plenty of planning. We asked our favourite money-saving experts for their insider tips to help you enjoy Christmas without any of the stress.

Here, Lisa Woodley AKA TikTok sensation Mum Who Budgets and author of Budget Happy (£14.99, Quercus) and Ken and Mary Okoroafor (founders of whose new book, Financial Joy, is out next year reveals their clever ideas for a very Merry Christmas.


Gift giving

“For the children, we ensure all their gifts have plenty of variety. For example, something to wear, something to read, something to play or create with, and something to keep.

Our pre-teen asked for a mini fridge last year as her item to keep and this year it’s a ‘Hollywood mirror’. In the past, we’ve given family gifts such as hampers full of goodies instead of individual gifts which works out well for families with very small children and grandparents who don’t want gifts.” Lisa

Get gift inspo at Argos, Smyths Toys, Waterstones and TK Maxx


Christmas cards

“Since the boys were toddlers, they make handmade cards for their grandparents so we buy arts and craft supplies and also cut upcycle bits from old Christmas cards from the year before. Our grandparents cherish handmade Christmas cards.”

Ken and Mary

Be inspired at Typo, Hobbycraft and WH Smith.


Stocking fillers

“I always make sure stocking items are on the practical side; it’s a great way to stockpile personal care products going into the new year. We give deodorant gift sets, toothbrushes, a hairbrush, facial wipes and cleansing/skincare products alongside underwear and socks. We also give a colouring book and fresh art supplies and, don’t forget, the all-important chocolate coins.” Lisa

Find good ideas at Superdrug, Primark, Holland & Barrett, Boots and Next.


Food and drink

“We have a big family and, each year, one family takes it in turns to host Christmas at their house. They devise a menu and other households pick items from the menu that they will bring along. That way, everyone contributes and sticking to a menu means everything is covered and there are no duplicates. At the end of the dinner, the remaining food gets shared out for people to take home. Nothing is wasted!” Ken and Mary

“Buying food can cause unnecessary indulgence. We think we need all the trimmings when actually most of the items are bought due to habit or because a telly advert told us to. So WRITE A LIST of everything you would like and stick to it to prevent over-buying and masses of food waste. I start buying items in September and store them away, freezing items where possible to help reduce costs. I leave only the fresh produce to buy the week of Christmas itself which means there’s no risk of grandad’s pig in blankets being sold out.” Lisa

Get planning at Marks & Spencer, ProCook and Hotel Chocolat.


Gift wrapping

“If you’re thinking of creative practical ways to present gifts, You can buy a pack of five hessian burlap sacks and tie it with ribbon and a name tag. The great thing about this is they’re big enough to fit up to 10 gifts and can be reused each year.” Ken and Mary

“With my immediate family, the gift wrapping paper is colour coordinated. All green for one child, pink for another, my husband silver etc. It means there’s no longer any need for gift tags. For the rest of my family, I use brown parcel paper, not only is it better for the environment but it comes in a larger roll so great value for money. My labels come in the form of brown tags with a glitter pen. For the adults, I do add a cinnamon fig/dried orange decoration and love using ribbon on all gifts to give it some colour and sparkle.” Lisa

Try Hobbycraft, Typo and WH Smith.



“I no longer go silly in the shops each year changing all my tree baubles, I now only buy one tree decoration each year. It has to have meaning behind it and I allow myself a maximum of £10.” Lisa


For Christmas 2024…

“My biggest tip to prevent overspending is plan ahead, write a list and start popping some money aside as soon as you can. I start saving in January and my personal total amount is saved by October so I have all the funds ready and waiting and my gift purchases are done by October and November. They’re all wrapped and stored away. December is solely for family time, not panic buying. It takes all the stress out of the festivities and prevents the latter part of the year’s income being spent solely on Christmas.” Lisa


Use leftovers

“Plan for leftovers by making dishes that can be easily reheated or repurposed. This can help reduce waste and save you time and money.” Ken and Mary


Final tips

“Before the tree goes down and Christmas is packed away for another year, head to the shops and see if you can get the Christmas cards, wrapping paper and gift decorations in the sales. Pop them away ready to use next year.” Lisa

Don’t miss Hobbycraft, WH Smith and Marks & Spencer.


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