The no spend Christmas 

I know it’s February and the festive season has long been forgotten about but a few people have asked me what we did for our no-spend Christmas, so I’m doing a belated update. 

Christmas is the time of year when consumerism is at its peak and I have to admit that I did feel a little bit left out of the last-minute shopping frenzy and lacking in Christmas spirit until the actual day.


Here’s how we got on (WARNING – it’s another long post!)


The tree


Obviously we couldn’t buy a Christmas tree but we already owned a fake one so we dragged it out of the loft. The thing is, we didn’t actually have any decorations, just two strings of fairy lights and a star for the top.

At first it looked a little bit bare but I quickly came to appreciate our minimalist tree and now don’t think I’m going to bother buying any ornaments for it.



Here’s me putting the star on top:





Under the tree looked a little bit bare as well as we couldn’t buy presents. It’s amazing how cheerful the brightly coloured boxes and bags make you feel even if you’re really not that interested in the contents!


Me and my family had a present amnesty where I didn’t buy anything for them and they didn’t buy anything for me. It was actually a good solution for everyone as Christmas can get a bit expensive if you buy for everyone in a large family and a no-presents-for-adults rule may now stick.


Of course, this doesn’t apply to children. Me and Frank have three nephews on my side; Charlie, Tommy and Leo.


While Tommy and Leo are both under two-years-old, Charlie is five and it’s difficult to explain to him that he’s not getting a present because

Auntie ‘Chelle is on a no spend year.


So, I made the boys presents. I visited an amazing creative workspace in London called Fab Lab London, which is home to 3D printers, plastic cutting machines, engravers, embroidery machines and everything else you could think of to make pretty much anything. On Fridays they open up the Lab to anyone who wants to make something and it’s all free. Their ethos is ‘create don’t consume’ and I jumped on board.

I made these little cars and engraved them for the boys:



We weren’t going to forego Christmas dinner just because we’re not spending and we had a lovely meal with all the trimmings.


We don’t eat meat so instead made our special Christmas pie using fake chicken (it’s basically a ‘chicken’ and leek pie with a layer of stuffing under the pie lid) and it’s amazing.


We also had potatoes, parsnips, carrots, sprouts and stuffing balls (we like stuffing!) all covered in gravy. The little pastry parcel is filled left over stuffing with a bit of cranberry sauce (I told you we like stuffing!).

And using the offcuts of the pastry we also managed to make some mince pies using a jar of mincemeat eaten with the cream we didn’t use in the pie.


This is the dinner



We had a lot of food as you can see from this picture and we finished eating it over the rest of the holiday.



The week of Christmas was our biggest food bill since I started the challenge. It came in at £60.31.


To be fair this had to cover a lot of food in the Christmas week as we had a few people over; six for dinner on the Tuesday before Christmas and on Boxing Day we had some of my family stay over so we had to provide dinner, breakfast and then lunch for three extra adults and two kids.


(Oh and as luck would have it, all the toiletries ran out in the same week so we had to spend money on shampoo, conditioner and soap).


The actual Christmas dinner cost us £14.53, including pudding.


Here’s the breakdown:




Pastry £2.50

‘Chicken’ £4.94

Cream 90p

Leeks x2 67p

Stuffing 45p

Plain flour 5p (ish)

Herbs 10p (ish)

White wine £1 (ish – from an old bottle in the cupboard)


Total = £10.61


Made 8 portions = £1.33 a portion




Sprouts 29p

Carrots 29p

Parsnips 29p

Potatoes 75p

Stuffing 15p

Cranberry sauce 65p

Gravy 50p

Mincemeat £1


Total = £3.92


Made four portions = 98p per portion


Total Christmas dinner spend = £2.31 each




I’m really pleased that we managed a no spend Christmas and a very cheap dinner that was very tasty.


The only downside is that you don’t really feel in the festive spirit under Christmas is actually here because you haven’t had the build up of buying presents etc. But I can live with that!






6 thoughts on “The no spend Christmas 

  1. Michelle, I experienced the same feeling this year as well. I did notice that I was more aware of the little things like the snow on the mountains here at home, the outdoor Christmas lights in the neighborhood, and even a cardinal sitting on our pine tree. I have always been so busy in years past, and then exhausted to take any notice! Your tree looked beautiful: minimal yet elegant 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband is from Brighton and misses minced pies at Christmas 😦 I’ll have to purchase a few jars of mincemeat in September and take them home for a treat. We are currently in Colorado in the US. At least he can get Boddington’ s!

    Liked by 1 person

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