%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Here are four things that could make for a costly and unhappy Christmas to watch out for.
Christmas can be a stressful enough time of year without unexpected problems cropping up.
Here are some nightmares before Christmas and how to avoid them.
Running out of money
It's always wise to set a budget before Christmas really kicks in – and to stick to it. If you find yourself struggling to make your money last, don't resort to high-cost borrowing. Going overdrawn on your bank account without permission could cost you a small fortune, unless you have a fee-free buffer. So too could withdrawing cash using your credit card. Using a payday loan to pay for some of your Christmas could continue to haunt you well into the New Year if you can't afford to repay it on time.
You could spread the cost via a 0% on purchases credit card, which allows you a set period without interest to pay, but make sure you can ultimately afford to repay it.
Nationwide says that requests for new cards to replace those that have been lost or stolen soar at this time of year. Keep your cards safely tucked away and don't let anyone get a good look at your PIN if you're paying for something or using a cash machine. If you're going out for the evening, consider leaving some or all of your cards at home.
And make sure you cancel any lost or stolen cards immediately. Make sure you have your card issuer's emergency helpline phone number in your phone and/or written down at home so you can call quickly.
Sadly, the festive season brings an increase in street crime, with muggers particularly targeting those who look like they've been Christmas shopping.
If you're out and about at night, try to stick to well-lit and busier areas. And if you've had a few at the office Christmas party, think about getting a taxi rather than staggering through the streets.
You could also consider personal possessions cover.
This is an optional extra you can choose to add to your home insurance, and it means your possessions will be covered when they're outside your home.
And, with research suggesting that the average adult now carries almost £1,000 of belongings around with them, it could actually be worth having all year round.
A cold house at Christmas is no fun at all. If you're worrying that your boiler might not see out 2013, it would be wise to get it checked over sooner rather than later.
You could also check your home insurance policy to see if it's covered under home emergency cover.
If it isn't, you might want to add it, although be aware that it might not cover newer boilers. Or you might think about taking out a boiler care policy. Be aware that these can be riddled with exclusions. Always shop around and read the small print carefully.
Is your man the back-to-nature type? This firestick from Hunter Gatherer will mean he can dump the lighter. Just strike the blade down the firestick, and a shower of sparks will start his camp fire - with a bit of patience and the right kindling, that is. It costs £14 from Not On The High Street; and for another £16 you could add a chestnut roasting pan for a romantic evening by the fire.
From Not On The High Street comes this selection of four of the world's hottest chilli powders - including the current world champion, Scorpion Moruga. Each comes in a tiny corked glass bottle, all contained in a standard sized matchbox. The quantities may be tiny - but with this level of heat, that's all you'll need. £6.
So you can't stretch to a day at a luxury spa? Never mind. These pretty lights will turn bathtime into a real pampering experience. Attach the waterproof spa lights to the side of the bath, or simply float them on the surface; add bubble bath, put on some relaxing music - and ask if there's room for two. Spa lights £6.95 from Prezzybox.
Bath bombs can cost a fortune to buy, but they're cheap and very easy to make. Just mix together three parts sodium bicarbonate, one part each of citric acid and Epsom salts and a few drops of essential oil such as rose or lavender. Add a little almond oil drop by drop until the mixture is still a bit powdery but clumps together when squeezed. Use a plastic mould to shape your bombs. Or buy a kit - Bee Beautiful's includes everything needed to make a dozen bath bombs for £19.99.
It's too late to gather your own this year, but dried lavender is widely available online. And turning it into a scented sachet or even pillow couldn't be easier. Just sew a little bag from any scrap of pretty material - vintage handkerchiefs look stunning and don't need hemming - and pop the lavender inside. It's easy to personalise the bag with a little embroidery.
From just £10, Photobox will help you create a personalised calendar with a different happy memory for each month. Just upload a dozen family photos and some captions, and the company will get the finished calendar to you in as little as four days. There are plenty of different formats to choose from.
Even a simple wooden doll's house can cost well over £100 - and that's before you've bought the furniture and the dolls themselves. But this charming two-storey castle dolls house from Tesco comes with 5 pieces of furniture & the princess' vanity set two dolls, two sets of stairs and eleven pieces of furniture for just £36.99 - even less using Clubcard Boost.
Small boys everywhere love ice cream and space, so this Astronaut Ice Cream should go down a storm. Originally developed for the Apollo space missions, it's made by the same company that still supplies NASA. Freeze dried and vacuum packed, it comes in three flavours and literally melts in the mouth. It costs £5 from the Great Gift Company.
These plastic animal toys are perfect for the little ones this Christmas. They're very durable and perfect for encouraging mobility and learning with animals sounds and music included. The set costs £19.97.
Drawn your worst enemy in the Secret Santa? Here's how to put the boot in while maintaining the moral high ground. Oxfam's gifts of goats and sheep - which of course actually go to a worthy recipient in the developing world - have been very popular in recent years. But did you know the charity also offers £9 loads of manure for farmers? Just hand over the gift card to the recipient, and smirk.