Based on the 2015 ING Special Report, UK will spend the most on Christmas gifts this year. Each person will spend an average of AED 1,722 which is 15 per cent of their average monthly salary. Americans on the other hand will spend AED 1,476 per person on Christmas gifts. However it’s the Dutch which save the most during the Christmas season by spending only 1 per cent of their average monthly salary (AED 164).

So, how does your bank account plan to survive the festive season? Stop worrying and check out tips, tricks and savings secrets from UAE residents who have their shopping strategies all planned out.

“I spend equally on each gift…”

Sounds cliché but making a list prevents overspending. Before heading to the mall, make a list of all the people you’re buying a present for. Also create a budget for holiday gifting, so you don’t go overboard in the end.

Hannah, an expat resident, says: “I make sure to allocate an equal budget for every person’s present that I’m buying. This way the amount I end up spending on each gift is equal and I never go over what my maximum budget is.”

“I add a personal touch and spend less…”

Hand-made cards or DIY gifts add a personal touch to the gifting ritual, and costs you a fraction of what you would pay for a gift otherwise. Alice, a UK expat living in Abu Dhabi, adds: “I love baking, so every year around Christmas I usually bake gingerbread cookies or fruitcake in small batches. I gift wrap these at home and add a personal message for a finishing touch.”

“I only buy from stores that gift wrap…”

If hand-made gifts are not your thing, you can still save on gifts this holiday season. Byron, a Dubai resident advices: “My secret is to mostly buy presents from stores that provide complimentary gift wrapping.” This tip can help you easily save about AED 5-10 per gift, which isn’t bad, especially if you’re planning to buy gifts for a lot of people.

According to UAE based Hala: “You can do the wrapping yourself in case the store charges you for it.” Why pay those extra bucks on getting each gift wrapped when you can buy a roll of wrapping paper and ribbon and wrap the gifts yourself.

“I’m a bargain shopper…”

No shame in being a bargain shopper! It’s a good idea to keep your eyes and ears open for a good deal. When you have to buy gifts for a lot of people, even a few Dirhams saved on each present can add up to a significant amount.

A UAE resident, Rawan, shares her tip for holiday gifting: “I always shop at stores that offer Christmas deals and discounts, like three lipsticks/eye shadows for the price of one or toys, clothes etc. for half the price. I also check with my friends if they have loyalty offers/points at certain shops before I buy from there.”

Another expat, Nikita adds: “I use my employee discount to buy a pre-loaded Alshaya card worth AED 100 for only AED 75. I can buy up to six cards under this offer. I usually purchase these before the festive season, and use them as gifts for people I don’t know what to buy for, or to buy gifts from various Alshaya stores in the UAE.”

[Related: Tips for a budget-friendly festive season]

“I buy online for sending gifts back home…”

When you’re buying online, you’re not only avoiding the mall frenzy, but it’s also easier to find good discounts, especially if you want to send gifts to your friends and family back home.

Jennifer, an American expat living in the UAE, adds: “I use a website called, which helps me save money on greeting cards and shipping them home. I bought eight Christmas cards on for just AED 80, which also includes shipping and delivery.”

“I use 0% installment plans on my credit card…”

Your credit card can help you earn reward points, cashback or miles on all your holiday spending. But what’s even better – The festive season could be a good time to redeem all those loyalty rewards that you’ve accumulated on your credit card.

According to Zara, another UAE resident “Credit card installment plans are also quite useful, especially around the festive season when you’re likely to go overboard with your spending.” You can look out for 0% installment plans which can help you split your spend between 3-6 months.