Christmas isn’t called ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ for nothing, but it can also be the most bank-breaking time of the year! You have to buy presents, food, drink, wrapping paper, gift tags, cards and decorations, all of which can soon add up. However, it doesn’t have to add up quite so dramatically if you know how to do Christmas the thrifty way!
Here are some great ideas to cut costs this festive season, even at the last minute.
Year on year we tend to fall back on the same presents – fragrances, chocolate, jewellery etc – especially when we aren’t sure what to buy someone. This year, why not get a little more adventurous (and thrifty!) with your remaining Christmas shopping?
Homemade speaks volumes about the effort behind each present, and doesn’t have to be a chore. One idea is to bake festively-shaped shortbread biscuits for some of your nearest and dearest, before placing them in a vintage-style jar with a nice length of ribbon tied around its neck. You can even make chutney and fudge in the same way.
Wrap with scraps
Prone to throwing out offcuts of ribbon, string and wrapping paper that won’t quite reach around the rest of your presents? Why not keep them and use them to save money on wrapping gear?
String and ribbon look lovely when tied around wrapped presents – even shorter lengths of ribbon can be tied into a bow and stuck on top. When it comes to paper scraps, tape larger lengths together to create one length of paper bursting with pattern and colour, or layer stray strips across plain paper to create attractive patterns.
If you still haven’t bought your Christmas tree, park any plans for an expensive spruce and do artificial with a difference. With a dash of ingenuity and a good dose of creativity, you can create a Christmas tree out of almost anything!
Choose a spare wall where you’d normally put your tree, and try your hand at the following:
- Make a simple tree using bits of spruced up spare wood: one long length for the trunk, and other bits in decreasing lengths for the branches.
- Put a ladder up in the corner, with the triangle shape facing the room, and repurpose it using multi-coloured Christmas lights and a few complimentary baubles.
- Buy a small dried tree and decorate it as you would a leafy variety.
- Stick Washi tape (patterned and colourful tape made from paper) to the wall in the shape of a tree, and string paper decorations between the ‘branches’.
- If you already flex your creative muscles on a blackboard wall, rub everything off and replace it with a chalk Christmas tree that can stand proud throughout the festive season.
This is a great thing to do with the kids. Rather than spending lots of money on different baubles, why not make some of your own decorations? All you need is some different colours of felt, cotton stuffing and maybe some buttons, and you can create everything from snowmen to robins:
- Fold your main colour of felt in half (for example, white for a snowman), and draw the shape of the decoration onto it, adding an extra inch so you don’t lose anything when you sew it up. Then, cut it out.
- Cut out extra features in your chosen colours, like a robin’s red breast or snowman’s carrot nose, and sew them onto one of the shapes you’ve already cut.
- Do the same for things like eyes or buttons – you could even use real buttons for a quirky alternative.
- Put the two pieces of felt together, with any details facing in, and sew them together, leaving an opening big enough to turn your decorations the right way out again.
- Once the right side out, push wadding through the opening until your decs are nice and plump, then sew them up.
- Sew a thin length of string through the top of your decorations, before tying it into a knot and hanging the finished products from your tree.
Hunt for dupes
‘Dupes’ are cheaper products that look or smell almost exactly like designer brands, and are a great way to save on makeup and perfume-based gifts. For example, Lidl’s Suddenly Madame Glamour has attracted a devoted following after being discovered to smell like Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle. Zara’s scent, Black Peony, smells startlingly similar to Viktor and Rolf’s Flowerbomb.
If your niece is begging you for high-end perfume, these are well worth a smell!
It’s always tempting to bulk-buy Pringles and stock up on Celebrations, but will you really eat them all? Panic-buying more than you need will only leave you with waste, and once the first flush of Christmas is over, we’re betting you’ll be sick of the sight of cheesy snacks! Instead, take a carefully thought-out list to the supermarket and only buy what you need (and can afford).
Another way to save money is to go back to basics and grab value-brand food where possible – you’ll barely be able to taste the difference. And don’t forget to shop around for your turkey – Aldi’s free-range offering is just over £20, while The Co-operative is cheaper than Tesco!
Skip the meal out
Pubs and restaurants can charge extortionate prices for Christmas Day dinner, so why not do it yourself and follow up the delicious home-cooked food with a round of festive activities? You could watch a DVD and play board games, pull on your winter woollies and go for a walk, or even go old school with a few rounds of charades.
See, you don’t have to break the bank to have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones. Why not try out a few of these last-minute tips before the big day and see just how much you can save, as well as how much Christmas cheer you will experience?