Six ways to give top Christmas gifts for less this year – including dupe challenge


Pressured budgets will see almost half of us slash festive spending this Christmas.

One in four will have less than £300 to cover the celebrations, including presents, decorations and food, according to research by

The cost-of-living crisis means it’s now all the more important to bag bargains and discounts or come up with low-cost but meaningful gift ideas.

Set a budget

First, decide your Christmas budget, and then agree on a spending limit on gifts with family and friends.

Sarah Coles, from investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown, says: "If you start spending, run out of money, and try to impose spending rules in the middle of December, you’re much more likely to upset people who have already forked out for your gift."

Some families take the pressure off by agreeing gifts for children only, or by holding a secret Santa.

Tom Church, co-founder of shopping community, says: "To avoid overspending, my family does a secret Santa with a twist.

"Last year, we used a dupe challenge, where we bought each other copies of luxury goods. It made it fun and affordable."

Toy Deals

It pays to shop around on toys, as prices vary hugely.

Last year consumer group Which? found a bumper trolley of toys was £200 cheaper at Smyths Toys than The Entertainer, with Amazon being the second cheapest and Argos third.

It’s worth checking out the supermarkets in November as many hold half-price toy sales.

Argos also has half-price deals, as well as two-for-£15 or two-for-£20 offers.

Sarah-Jane says: "Head directly to the manufacturers’ websites too as some of them have started Black Friday deals already.

"For example, Lego has 30 per cent off selected sets right now."

The Dog-E robot dog, RRP £89.99, is on this year’s top 20 toy list by DreamToys and you can find it at Smyths for £74.99.

Make your own hamper

Shoppers snapping up Christmas hampers can pay twice as much for content compared to buying items individually from the same stores.

It makes more sense to buy a pretty box or basket and fill it with your own carefully chosen gifts that you can tailor to the taste of the recipient.

If money is tight, Aldi and Lidl do bargain versions of fancy items such as festive gin and chocolate florentines for a fraction of the prices charged by higher-end supermarkets.

You can buy affordable hamper kits from stores including The Works or Hobbycraft.

Vix adds: "If you are making multiple hampers you can take advantage of everyday three-for-two offers on everything from cosmetics to coffee."

Meaning over money

A thoughtful inexpensive gift such as photos or kids’ artwork may mean far than a pricey shop-bought one.

Sarah-Jane Outten, shopping expert at, said: "All those school photo prints that you have tucked away in a drawer make wonderful gifts for grandparents when popped in a frame.

"Or if you have a young artist at home – framing the artwork they lovingly created makes a gorgeous gift that family members will treasure for years to come too."

Take your own pictures and then get them printed as a present.

Tesco prints 6in by 4in photos for 7p each.

And providers including FreePrints, Snapfish and Photobox offer free printing services where you only need to pay delivery costs.

Big ticket gifts

If you’re planning to buy a popular gift for a loved one, it could be worth holding out until Black Friday.

You can check if a deal is genuine by looking at the price history, either through which tracks Amazon, or, which gives the lowest cost across different retailers over the past year.

Use a comparison site such as to find the lowest current price, but only buy from reputable retailers.

The Black Friday app, run by, gathers all the best offers in one place and compares them to other sellers.

Sign up for your favourite retailers’ newsletters to get discount codes and sales, plus perks such as free shipping.

Vix Leyton, consumer expert at, says: "If you’re not in a rush it’s worth leaving your item in the basket for a day to see if you are re-targeted with an offer from that shop to close the deal."

Checking out

Before hitting the pay button, check to see if you can blag some extra cash off.

Discount codes are listed on many sites and easy to find with a quick Google search.

It can be a trial-and-error process as some listed codes may have expired or only be valid for certain ranges but a code that works can give a worthwhile saving.

Another way to nab a reduction is to haggle on a retailer’s live chat site.

Ele Clark, Which? retail editor, adds: "Some retailers are more likely to offer you a discount than others, but if you can say that you have seen the same item cheaper elsewhere, they might be more inclined to offer you money off."

Which? said its biggest haggling wins on live chats included a 12 per cent discount on a £1,629 laptop from Dell and a 20 per cent discount code for full-price items at Boden.

Did you miss our previous article…