How to rent your way to a cheaper Christmas

It’s just weeks until Christmas Day but price rises, stock and labour shortages, and a new Covid variant aren’t filling us all with festive cheer.

Prices are the highest they’ve been since May 2019, according to The British Retail Consortium (BRC), with November seeing the first rise recorded for two and a half years, while inflation climbed to more than 4 per cent in the 12 months to October.

Stories of everything becoming more expensive combined with debt levels spiralling in the run-up to Christmas are everywhere. But could there be a way to cut back on costs without forgoing any of the usual festive traditions?

A third of us seem to think so and are considering renting their Christmas this year, according to research from Music Magpie.

The costs are less than buying something outright and it means fewer one-use items ending up in landfill. A way to help both your personal finances and the planet at the same time.

With all the headlines of a looming credit crisis it’s easy to forget last month’s Cop26 warnings of how much damage we’re doing to the planet by over-consumption. But renting, instead of buying, could be a way to tackle both issues.

Renting individual items has become more normal than it previously was, according to 55 per cent of those asked by Music Magpie.

When you rent something, you’ll usually pay a deposit to cover any damage to the item, and delivery costs will be included. You’ll be told how long you can rent the item for, and you may be able to either extend this or have the option of buying the item if you want to keep it.

The options are endless when it comes to renting items. Probably the most well-known are dresses for any occasion – from your wedding day to a Christmas event.

But it’s not just dresses, clothes for adults and children, for everyday wear or a special event can be rented out.

You can choose from a one-off rental or signing up to a subscription whereby you rent several items each month. Clothes are professionally washed after each swap and posted out to the next borrower.

The children’s rental website, The Little Loop, for example, has three tiers of subscription starting from £16.66 a month for six or seven items on average. It says parents can save around £900 a year per child by renting instead of buying and there’s clearly a huge benefit to the environment too.

You can also rent a living Christmas tree. There are companies across the country offering this service and you’ll usually be able to rent a potted real tree. It will be with you over Christmas and then picked up by the supplier, or you can return it, to be kept alive until next year.

The price depends on the type of tree, its size, and where you are in the country but can cost around £30 for a three-foot tree.

Around 8 million trees are bought every year in the UK, with 7 million ending up in landfill by January.

Renting a living tree not only means you don’t need to worry about getting rid of a tree after Christmas, it also means there’s no need for a new tree to be grown and then die in the new year.

If you’re hosting any parties over Christmas, you can also rent your tableware instead of splashing out on new sets of plates, napkins or decorations.

The Party Kit Network was set up to encourage sustainability and to reduce the number of single-use items we use. It connects those hosting parties with those with the equipment needed. Items are used and returned, either for a small cost or a refundable deposit.

Toys are another area where it’s easy to overspend. There are lots of rental companies which allow you to borrow toys for a set period. This means not buying more items, keeping your costs down, but also having a never-ending supply of new items for children to play with.

Toy subscription company Whirli reports that parents usually spend an average of £140 on Christmas toys and 23 per cent of those are neglected, or thrown out, within a month.

Its cheapest bundle is £9.99 which allows members to borrow up to £80 worth of toys.

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