Christmas comes but once a year, and with it come these rip-offs.

Visiting Santa

Taking the children or grandchildren to see Santa is a Christmas tradition for many of us. But it can cost you a small fortune, in some cases upwards of £10 just to get a soft toy and a quick photo.

Thankfully there are plenty of cheap or free places to see Santa, so do your research first and it won’t hurt your wallet.

[Related story: Free and cheap places to see Santa]

Christmas trees

Who doesn’t want a real Christmas tree in their front room during the festive season? But some places attempt to charge you as much as £50 for a natural tree, even though – as sites like DeliverMeAChristmasTree outline – it probably only costs them about £20 wholesale.

[Related story: Our top tips on how to buy a real Christmas tree]


If you’re struggling for a gift for an older relative, then hampers are always a popular choice. But there will generally be a significant mark-up on what the individual items within the hamper would cost you.

So save a few quid and put your hamper together yourself. You can make it a little more personal, and save some money in the process.

Charity Christmas cards

Tis the season to think of those less fortunate than ourselves. So when the time comes to pick up your Christmas cards, plenty of us reach for the ‘charity’ cards, happy in the knowledge that the money you pay for the cards if going to a good cause. Trouble is, much of the time the charities are getting a pittance.

For example, in 2013 Asda’s cards donated a pitiful 6.6% split between two breast cancer charities. Some cards at Debenhams and WHSmiths passed on as little as 8.3% too. If you want to ensure the good causes really benefit, then make sure you buy the cards direct from the charities themselves.

Extended warranties

Christmas is a time when every retailer under the sun will bend your ear about why you need to fork out £40 for an extended warranty on the £10 kettle you’ve just bought for your mother-in-law.

Not only are they stupidly expensive, but you already enjoy a decent amount of protection in the form of the statutory 12-month guarantee and the Sale of Goods Act, which forces shops to replace goods that don’t work.

If you do feel the need to buy an extended warranty, then don’t get it from the retailer. Get a standalone policy from a specialist insurer instead, as it will be much cheaper.

[Related story: Give yourself a Christmas bonus]


Travelling to see your loved ones at Christmas can be outrageously expensive. Research from a couple of years ago found that booking a train ticket for a festive trip in October, when the tickets first go on sale, could cost you 88% less than buying a ticket on the day.

So if you know that you will need to travel by plane or by train over the festive period, do your research and fine out the earliest date that you can buy your tickets. It may seem odd planning your festive trip in the dying days of autumn, but it will definitely save you money if you do.

Ice skating

All sorts of ice skating venues pop up at Christmastime, and it won’t just be the rough landings when you slip over that cause your eyes to water. The cost can be absolutely staggering too.

For example, for a single adult to skate at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, you’ll need to fork out £14.50. For a family to skate, it will cost you £38. And you only get an hour!

Booking well in advance can save you money though. For example, at Spinningfields in Manchester an hour of skating for an adult will set you back £10 at peak times. However, if you took advantage of the pre-launch booking and snapped up a ticket before 14th November, the price would be just £6.

So if you want to do some skating next year, make sure you check whether you can save a few pounds by booking well in advance.

[Related story: Five ways to save money this Christmas]

Dining discount cards

If you have a dining discount card, whether it’s tastecard or the Gourmet Society, you can save a fortune when eating out thanks to the half price and two-for-one offers.

But many of the retailers won’t accept the cards at all during December. For example, in many Prezzo restaurants you can’t use your Gourmet Society card to get the usual 25% off your bill through any of December, while at Bella Italia you can’t use your card to get a discount after the 18th December.

Similarly, ASK and Zizzi restaurants don’t offer Tastecard discounts at all in December