We wish you a frugal Christmas and a happy New Year

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CHRISTMAS is traditionally a time of parties and presents but for hard-up householders it can be the most difficult time of the year.

The on-going recession, along with the rising cost of energy, food and fuel, means that money will be tight for many people across Ashfield.

But you don’t have to spend a fortune to have fun over the festive period and this week, we are taking a look at ways to save money and avoid getting into debt.

Here Ashfield Chad reporter Catherine Allen shares her tips for saving money this Christmas . . .

EVEN before the recession, I was never extravagant at Christmas - and in fact I like the challenge of making this time of year as cheap as possible without turning into Ebeneezer Scrooge.

So here are some of my tried-and-tested ideas which I hope will leave you with less of a dent in your finances.

Consider ditching the turkey: It might be traditional but turkey can also be expensive so why not try something different for Christmas dinner? A couple of years ago, I bought a pork shoulder at Sutton’s indoor market which fed seven people for a fraction of the price of a turkey.

Do you need to buy presents for everyone? Many people are feeling the pinch at the moment so they might appreciate it if you agree not to exchange presents. Talk to your friends, family and partner and say you would rather save the money this year. Instead, concentrate on making Christmas special for your children or grandchildren.

Shop locally: Take advantage of the shops on your doorstep in Sutton, Kirkby and the villages in Ashfield. You won’t have to spend a lot of money on petrol or parking and you will be supporting local traders.

Look out for bargains: Real Christmas trees are lovely - but they often cost more than £20 and will only last a couple of weeks. I bought a nearly new artificial tree from eBay for £1 and its still going strong after three years. Look out for bargains on eBay and similar online outlets such as Gumtree, as well as your local Chad’s Classified section. If you do want a real Christmas tree, why not buy one that is still in its pot so you can plant it in the garden and use it again next year?

Cash in your reward points: Now is the time to make use of all the reward points you have collected at high street stores and supermarkets over the past year. You can use them to buy presents or food for the family.

Have a clear-out: Get rid of household junk at a car boot sale or sell items online or in Chad. You will be able to make money and clear space for this year’s presents.

Give creative presents: Thoughtful presents made by you or your children are often the most memorable. I have made jars of tomato chutney for my family this year but your gift could be anything from a home-made card to an offer of baby-sitting.

And looking ahead . . . I buy most of my cards and wrapping paper in the January sales at hugely reduced prices.

Do you have any top tips for a frugal Christmas? Email your suggestions to reporter Catherine Allen at catherine.allen@chad.co.uk.