Christmas gifts and shopping ideas: SIXTEEN’s Australian mom shares exactly how she does Christmas on a budget


Christmas is a cherished time for everyone, but especially for mum Jeni Bonell who is determined to make it the “most wonderful time of the year” for 16 children and six grandchildren.

Based in Toowoomba, Queensland, the Bonell family are officially Australia’s largest family – that’s a lot of Christmas presents!

Being a money saver, Jeni is preparing to 7 Lifestyle onBut how she manages to stay within her budget, given her gigantic shopping list.

The Bonell family’s photo of Santa Claus for 2020. Credit: Instagram / @thebonellfamily

Food

On Jeni’s YouTube channel The Bonell family, she tells how the family depends on loose, cheap staples such as pasta, rice and frozen vegetables – calling them “just as nutritious but half the price”.

Jeni opts for foods that can freeze, which means leftovers can be enjoyed on Boxing Day.

And his tip for not breaking the bank when it comes to festive treats?

Jeni likes to find “quick sell stickers,” suggesting food can be frozen, and she sticks to private label items.

For example, Woolworths has launched its new private label line, the Christmas line of Woolworths Gold.

Jeni also likes to compare prices between supermarkets.

“We don’t do the complete grocery shopping in one supermarket. You can really save money by purchasing pieces from different stores. It’s worth shopping around, ”she said 7Lifestyles.

Jeni says her Christmas 2021 lunch menu will consist of a range of salads, ham legs, roast chicken and turkey for the main course.

Jeni has everything she needs to do her shopping in the supermarkets.
Jeni has everything she needs to do her shopping in the supermarkets. Credit: Youtube / thebonellfamily

And lots of ice cream, plum pudding, custard and fruit salad for dessert.

When asked to save money for Christmas food, Jeni said her “grown kids all contribute, they bring different salads.”

The Bonell family sat down to eat their 2020 Christmas lunch.
The Bonell family sat down to eat their 2020 Christmas lunch. Credit: YouTube / thebonell family

Gifts

Buying gifts for so many children and grandchildren seems like a challenge. That’s why Jeni is asking her kids to write their Christmas wish lists as early as July.

That way, she can get a head start on the Christmas rush and get the most out of mid-year toy sales.

Jeni tells her YouTube subscribers that buying so early means she can pay for her freebies in installments and spread the costs so it’s less overwhelming.

“We have a lot of kids, so a lot of different personalities, which is hard for everyone to buy,” Jeni says.

The Bonell children open their presents on Christmas morning 2020.
The Bonell children open their presents on Christmas morning 2020. Credit: YouTube / thebonell family

So what is his secret weapon for shopping?

“This year was different because I discovered Shopback which made it pretty simple,” Jeni explains.

Shopback is an app that offers shoppers “up to 30% Cash Back at over 1,300 of Australia’s most popular online stores”.

The Bonell Brood opening presents Christmas morning last year
The Bonell Brood opening presents Christmas morning last year Credit: Instagram / thebonellfamily_

“I can go to this site and there are so many different places I can buy, and I can accommodate everyone’s different personalities in the same place,” Jeni says.

Her other tips for saving money on gift shopping include “Know your budget and stick to it – don’t go crazy, don’t overspend.”

“No one wants debt after Christmas. Just keep an eye out for those sales and the best prices, ”Jeni says.

Budget

So how far in advance does a 16-year-old mom get ready for Christmas?

Looks like on Boxing Day, she is already thinking about next Christmas.

“I budget the whole year for Christmas as a whole. But I like to do the gifts and decorations first, ”Jeni explains.

“And then the food is closer to Christmas time, because you have to store the food and you don’t want it to spoil.

Some of Jeni and Ray Bonell's children outside their family home
Some of Jeni and Ray Bonell’s children outside their family home Credit: Group of poems

“You have to know what you can spend. Too many people try to outdo everyone else, and I think the gifts that come from the heart are more important than what they cost.

“Also compare product prices and don’t just see something and buy it, always make sure you’re getting the best price. “


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