If you haven’t begun thinking about Christmas yet, you really should - we’re less than six weeks away from the big day. Presents are no doubt the first things on the shopping list but there are some festive essentials that might not be front of mind. And if you don’t factor them into your budget, you might find yourself spending more than you expect. Christmas cards It’s still a tradition to exchange a Christmas card, often with updates of what’s occurred in the last 12 months. No doubt you’ve a handful left over from last year (if you can find them), so work out how many you need rather than just buying a few boxes. Then top up in the January sales for next year. Fewer cards are sent nowadays, and that’s largely down to email. If you’re not bothered about sending a physical card, you could save a fair few quid by sending your own e-card. Second-class stamps If you are going to send a card by post, you’ll obviously save cash if you send them second class, likewise with any gifts. So the earlier you send them the cheaper it’ll be. Real or fake Christmas tree? Real trees aren’t cheap, so if you want one with no-drop-needles-that-will-still-drop-whatever-the-label-says, find out how much it’ll cost you, especially if you need to get a taxi to get it home. A fake tree is often a cheaper option and will last you a good three or four years, if not longer. Christmas tree lights They worked fine last year but once you open up the box of decorations and plug your lights in, you just know half the bulbs will have mysteriously died. It might be wise to stick a spare £30 in your budget just in case. If the lights are working ok, then you can use that money elsewhere. Wrapping paper You’ve either got rolls of it left over from previous years (maybe it’s hiding with the Christmas cards?) or perhaps you’ll grab what’s closest to the till the night before you need to wrap all your gifts. If you’re on a tight budget, pick something that could be used for gifts all year around such as red, gold or silver. Brown parcel paper with a ribbon can look great too. Turkey and trimmings A turkey won’t come cheap, and all the extras will add up too. The earlier you work out the total cost (supermarket websites are a great way to get a rough idea) the sooner you’ll know if you need to cut back on the overall spend. You can of course lower the costs through meal planning. If you work out how you’ll use leftovers from the turkey over the next few days, it’ll mean you need to buy less grub. Get Christmas dinner for less Christmas crackers Can you really have Christmas dinner without a Christmas cracker? The bad joke, the ridiculous hat and pointless toy are as much part of the meal as turkey, sprouts and your gran falling asleep after one glass of wine. Hunt around early for special offers, and find out what you’re going to get inside. The really cheap ones are often a huge disappointment. Leave it late and you might only have the option of pricey versions. Christmas jumper You might say you’re not going to wear a Christmas jumper, but when someone at work rocks up with one you’ll no doubt wish you’d picked up that glow-in-the-dark snowman sweater. Add it to your budget now, along with santa hats, antlers any other new items you think you’ll want for your festive wardrobe. If you can’t afford new clothes, it’s worth seeing if you can swap old ones with friends, or you could check out the local charity shops. Train tickets Train fares get more expensive the close you get to the day of travel. Though the cheapest tickets will already have been snapped up for Christmas and New Year, you can still save a decent whack compared with buying it on the day. 10 easy ways to cut your train fare Work drinks If you’re lucky, your boss might put some cash behind the bar, but for most of us those eggnogs aren’t going to pay for themselves. Factor in a little extra for your going out fund over the Christmas period, and don’t forget many places charge admission on New Year’s Eve – even your local boozer.