How I Manage My Christmas Budget: TikToker spending £850 on children’s presents

Becky Biddles has cut her budget, but still plans to spend £200 on food for the festive period and an extra £50 for drinks

In our special How I Manage My Christmas Budget series, we speak to people to find out how they are saving and spending money during the festive period.

This week, we speak to Becky Biddles, 37, who lives in Hastings with her husband, Dan, 40, and their three children, Cooper, 13, Beau, 11 and Cohen, four. Becky plans to spend more than £1,700 on Christmas and has a £350 present budget for each of her two eldest children. The budget for Cohen is £150. Becky enjoys cash stuffing and has already started saving for Christmas 2024.


Our monthly income: We generally have around £3,923 coming in each month, but this can vary. Dan works as a self-employed site manager, looking after new-build property sites. He takes £2,500 from his business each month. I make around £1,200 from my TikTok and Etsy work each month. I sell items related to cash stuffing and talk about budgeting on my TikTok channel (budgetwithbecky). We also receive £223 per month for Child Benefit.

Our main monthly outgoings: Rent for three-bedroom house, £1,060; council tax, £181; groceries, £750; gas and electric, £180; water, £40; broadband, £27; mobile phone bills, £60; subscriptions including Amazon Prime, Spotify, Netflix and Tesco Clubcard Plus, £50; car fuel, £200; car finance, £353; two gym memberships, £60; son’s football club, £25; money into online savings account, £100.

I then see what sum is needed for that month for things like social events, eating or going out. This money stays in the bank account.

Anything left over gets withdrawn in cash. I like cash stuffing and use savings cards and binders to stash money away for things like car tax, school holidays and the children’s birthdays.

Our Christmas budget: Food, £200; drink, £50; Christmas decorations, £50; pre-Christmas activities, including a trip to London, £300; presents for three relatives, including our mothers, £310; presents for our 13-year-old, £350; presents for our 11-year-old, £350; presents for our four-year-old, £150. Our total budget is more than £1,700.

Since starting cash stuffing this year, I’ve been setting aside money each month using a savings challenge specifically for Christmas. I’ve also sold a number of items, such as old bikes and scooters, on free online platforms like Facebook Marketplace. The bikes made about £30 each. I’ve sold lots of clothes on Vinted for between £3 and £10 each. This all brings in extra money and helps declutter the house.

In previous years, we’ve overspent on Christmas. We spent less, but our income was also less. The pressure to give the children a magical Christmas can be intense. It’s hard not to compare yourself to family and friends, or see on social media how much others are spending on their children. However, I now stick to budgets. We won’t be putting anything on a credit card or start the new year in debt.

This year, we’ll be spending Christmas at my sister’s house in the countryside, with her fiancé and their daughter. My Mum will also be there, so in total there will be nine of us. While I’m not hosting, I’m buying a joint of meat for the day and will bring along extra chocolates and drinks.

I still plan to spend £200 on food for the festive period and an extra £50 for drinks. We’ll enjoy all this food and drink throughout the entire Christmas and New Year period. I do most of my food shopping at Tesco and have a Clubcard Plus subscription, so will get 10 per cent off the bill this time. There’s a maximum discount of £40.

This year’s food budget will be used to top up the cupboards with lots of goodies such as Christmas party food, chocolates and cheese. I won’t be shopping for cheaper options as it’s stressful and the shops are too busy. I find it simpler to stick to one place. I’ve also spent £50 on new Christmas decorations this year, but we did make some paper chains ourselves for nothing.

As a family, we’re doing a few pre-Christmas trips. We took the children to London and went to the Natural History Museum and saw a dinosaur dressed in a Christmas jumper. We also went on an open-top bus tour to see all the Christmas lights around the city. This cost £29 per adult and £18 for each child over four. We are also going to see Cinderella at the local pantomime for £20 per person.

On top of that, we plan to go to different villages to see their light displays. In the villages you can often make a donation to a local charity. In total, our pre-Christmas spend will be about £300.

Becky said she had been shopping in the Black Friday sales to get presents at a cheaper price (Photo: Supplied)

As the children get older, the type of presents they want gets more expensive. We plan to spend up to £350 on our 13-year-old and a further £350 on our 11-year-old. The budget for our four-year old son is £150. The older children are getting more spent on them, but the amount of presents they receive will be smaller. We’ll also be spending £300 on three other relatives, including both our mothers. My Mum will be getting, for instance, a Ring doorbell and a Fitbit watch.

We got our two eldest children an Xbox, second controller and docking station in the Black Friday sales for £265, as a joint present. They also wanted football boots, which cost £70 per pair. We’ve also got them a mini fridge for £50, which again they will share. On top of that, we’ve got them matching Oodies for £39. Other presents will include things like Nike jogging trousers and an Adidas hoodie from JD Sports. One also wants an iPhone, Apple watch and AirPod charging stand.

The budget for our four-year-old is up to £150. He just wants everything at the moment! So far, we’ve got him things like a pop-up pirate game for £15, a puppy in a bag for £17 and some arts and crafts sets for £15. We’ll also get him, among other things, a Kinetic sand construction site playbox, a Peppa Pig aeroplane and a Squishmallows teddy.

Dan and I aren’t getting each other presents, but I have hinted that a puppy would be lovely!

I have already started saving for Christmas 2024. I’m doing this via the penny savings challenge. I’m setting aside loose change for the challenge and should have at least £700 to spend by the time next Christmas comes round. How much we end up spending for Christmas 2024 will depend on where we spend it and what presents the kids want.

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