The holidays are arguably one of the best times of the year, but they can also be the most expensive.

There’s a lot to think about, from presents and decorations to parties and shopping but it all contributes to the festive fun of the season. However, it can leave a huge dent in your bank account if you’re not careful.

Here are our 7 practical hacks to help you save money over the holidays.

1. Budget

I know, it’s probably one of the last things you want to think about, and it might be a pretty painful exercise, but creating a budget will help you to avoid going into or further into the red. Take a look at your bank balance to see how much you have to play with and read our guide to creating a uni budget.

Hopefully during the lead up to the holidays you might have already started saving but if you haven’t, you could consider taking on more hours if you have a part-time job or selling some unwanted items on Ebay or depop.

2. Make price tracking your new best friend

Make price tracking your new best friend

Idealo will now be your new best friend, guaranteed. This unbelievably useful website will show you how the price of an item has changed over time as well as where you can get it for the cheapest price! You can then monitor if the item is on an upward or downward price point and decide whether you should buy it now or wait a bit longer.

You could even agree with your family and friends to buy each other gifts after Christmas in the Boxing Day sales. You’ll be able to pick up items for a fraction of the price, but you’ll have to weigh up the importance of getting and giving presents on Christmas day vs after.

3. Shop on Ebay and charity shops

Ebay is a great place to have a browse for gifts. They have a huge selection of items and it’s easy to filter through categories to find what you’re looking for.

If you don’t mind having a rummage, then charity shops can sometimes be one of the best places to find gifts at a discount. If you’re worried about second-hand items, charity shops sell brand new items with the price tag and original packaging all intact. You can sometimes strike gold and find some amazing designer pieces, but it does take patience and time. You can even find some great festive decorations in charity shops so you can decorate your house without spending a fortune.

4. Beware of student discounts

Beware of student discounts

Student discounts are a saviour this time of the year and as such you should take full advantage of it! Unidays and Student Beans will give you a huge selection of retailers offering discounts to students. For instance student beans are offering 25% off at buyagift perfect for a present idea.

Also never be afraid to ask retailers if they offer student discounts in-store, 9/10 retailers will offer at least 10% off for students and if you don’t ask you won’t get.

5. Suggest Secret Santa if you’re on a small budget

The holidays can be a stressful time of the year, especially when it comes to planning who you’re going to buy gifts for. You might have a large family, uni friends, home friends, classmates and even work colleagues if you have a part-time job. The costs can seriously add up if you start buying gifts for everyone in your contacts.

Instead of feeling miserable, stressed and completely missing the festive spirit, it might be time to suggest Secret Santa. You don’t have to suggest it to everyone, but you may suggest it to your uni friends, friends from home and work colleagues. This way you’ll only have to buy a small handful of really good gifts rather than smaller presents for up to ten people. Chances are your friends will be in the same boat as you and will welcome the idea.

Agree a budget amongst your friends or family. You can then choose to draw names from a hat the old fashioned way or you can use an app called Elfster. Elfster will pick the names for you and allows everyone to create a Wishlist so there’s little risk of you getting something you don’t want… perfect!

6. Cook dinner on a budget

Cook dinner on a budget

The holidays definitely wouldn’t be the same without a large, festive dinner with friends at university before you head home for Christmas.

However, cooking a meal for a group can add up if you’re not careful. Check out our tips for cooking the ultimate festive dinner for friends at uni without breaking the bank.. Here you’ll find out how to cook a festive-themed dinner for as little as £2.50 a head.

7. Save on nights out

We all know that a night out is a full operation. From purchasing a new festive outfit or making sure you have had a good meal, there can often be expenses before you even start your night. By the time you factor in any entry costs to a nightclub or a taxi, it can all add up!

Try looking through your wardrobe and recycling your outfits, you’ll be surprised at the items you forget you even had. You could even trade clothes with your friends if you want something you haven’t worn before.

You can save on taxis by sharing with friends and splitting the cost. You can even choose to go to the clubs or bars that offer free entry or go before a certain time to get free entry.

These 7 practical hacks to save money over the Christmas period should help you to keep your costs low whilst still having an amazing Christmas period!