It may not seem it, but Christmas is fast approaching. As much as we love the festive food and gifts that wait beneath the tree, it can also be an extremely expensive time of year for many. To help prepare for the festive season, here are our top 5 money saving tips!

1. The ‘Christmas Deals Predictor’

Every year in November, the ‘Money Saving Expert’ produces a calendar predicting the hottest discounts, vouchers and codes in the run up to Christmas. Based on trends and data from previous years, they are able to predict Christmas offers and deals from a number of different companies to help you find the best presents for the cheapest prices. Be sure to look out for this in the next few weeks!

2. Homemade decorations and gifts

There is nothing quite like receiving a handmade gift from a loved one. To save money, and add a personal touch to your gifts this year, why not try making gifts and decorations. Not only does it save money to handcraft items, it can also be a fun, family activity for everyone to enjoy. From ‘DIY Glitter Candles’, to ‘Snowy Pinecones’, there are thousands of fun ideas out there for handmade Christmas bits.

3. Start a ‘Christmas cupboard’

Make a list of who you need to buy for, and what you need to buy. Whenever you see food, drinks or little gifts at discounted or multi-buy prices, grab them, wrap them, and stuff them in a Christmas cupboard. Supermarkets often reduce the prices on lots of family favourite food and drinks. It might seem early, but Christmas will be here sooner than we think. By buying a few bits every now and then, you'll be able to keep track of your spending and hopefully take advantage of some discounts before the peak shopping season.

4. Don’t be blinkered by the brand!

Particularly when buying for children, it is good to remember that they don't value presents based on price or brand names. Young children often seem more interested by the box or wrapping that a present was given in. Don't dish out the big bucks unnecessarily, just for the sake of a popular name.

For fun, why not get a large box, fill it with blown-up balloons (helium is best), close the box lid, and then wrap it up. Be careful not to burst any balloons, and enjoy the chaos which follows!

5. Budgeting for the best Christmas

The Money Advice Service offers an online ‘Christmas Money Planner’ to help with managing your finances in the run up to Christmas. Keeping track of your expenses before you start your shopping can help you avoid spending more than you can afford. The planner also features a helpful countdown to Christmas, to stop it from sneaking up on you! Avoid overspending and have a go at creating a budget for your Christmas this year.