Christmas can be an expensive time of year, but it doesn't have to be. Read on for some great ways to save on everything from your tree to your tinsel.

Christmas trees

Fresh trees will last you about six weeks so bear this in mind when you’re deciding how far before Christmas you’re going to buy. To get the most out of your festive fir, check the pines when you buy. If they’re green they’re fresh so you’re good to go. I

f they fall off when you shake the tree, you’re not going to get your money’s worth so look elsewhere. A heavy tree means that it’s fresher because of its higher water content so check for that if you can.

You’ll get a £20 voucher for buying a real IKEA Christmas tree for £25. The offer is available from 23 November-23 December 2017. 

The Forestry Commission will get you a FSC-approved tree which is sustainably grown and netted by the team. Trees start at £57 each.

At the moment Homebase is doing a range of real trees; the tallest is Cut Nordman Fir measuring in at 8-9 foot for £80. For something a bit smaller, try this Living Nordman Fir 2-3 foot tree for £25.

If you’re really strapped for space, ask for some scrap branches at your local tree seller and fashion a make-shift Christmas tree for free. Get some foliage from the garden and tie a ribbon around it to make it extra festive. 

If you're going artificial, it’s advisable to get the best tree you can afford. Look for one which has at least a 10-year manufacturer warranty for proof of durability.

It’s a good idea to tape the purchase receipt and warranty to the tree’s box should you need it in future.

And the pre-lit or no light argument? It’s advisable to go for a pre-lit tree because, even though they’re more expensive, you’re not having to buy lights every time they need to be replaced.

There are some cracking artificial trees on offer at the moment.

Tesco has a six-foot fir for £19.99, Argos has a five-foot tree for £12.99. If you’re opting for pre-lit, there’s a three-foot tree for £6 from George at Asda. 

As a space-saver you can get a wall-mounted half Christmas tree for £32.99 from Christmas Direct

Decorations

With decorations it’s best to build a collection over a number of years as well as making your own. You can use absolutely anything to put a quirky slant on a Christmas tradition. 

Get the kids involved and it can double as a fun Christmas craft session for you all. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for cooking and crafts.

[Read more: 5 easy festive craft ideas to decorate your home with this Christmas]

Lights

One thing you don’t want to skimp on is the lights. Once a few lights go, it’s a right faff replacing them. Buy a sturdy, good quality set of lights that will last you for years. 

[Read more: The dos and don’ts of putting up Christmas lights outside your house]

Food and drink

Make your own food if you can.

Mince pies are dead easy to make and will save you a considerable amount. Watch this video to find out how.

Start adding items for your Christmas to the weekly shop now as it’ll save a mad rush later. Book your Christmas delivery slots well in advance.

Various supermarket delivery pass schemes will notify you so that you get priority booking. 

On that note, you should start making Christmas dinner now as well. You can get your Christmas pud sorted and drip-feed it rum throughout December. Soups can be made further in advance and frozen too.

It’s best to buy your tipple now as the prices will creep up over November and December. Skimp on the mixers as you won’t really be able to taste them once they’re mixed with the booze anyway.

For the more obscure plonk Bargain Booze is a wondrously cheap source of any tipple that you can imagine.

Wilko does cheap mini cracker sets for £3 if you’re dining with children. Or you could have a little bit more fun and make your own for £3 with The Works.

You can use penny sweets (or chocolate liqueurs for adults) and save yourself on the groan-inducing gags. 

Entertainment

Everyone loves a pantomime but they’re not always the cheapest evenings out. 

Don’t despair if it’s too expensive as local theatres have some great offerings for much cheaper too. Look out for newspaper deals in the coming weeks.

Grab free tickets for a TV Christmas special like Surprise Surprise with Holly Willoughby and ITV Text Santa or Brass Bands at Christmas. Head over to Applause Store or the BBC to find more shows.

Go to Opentable, 5pm and lastminute.com for special offers on meals out.

[Read more: 6 ways to make Christmas more magical]