Let's face it, Christmas might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be expensive once you factor in all the decorations, food and gifts that you end up buying over the course of the season. Don't despair though, there are plenty of ways to save a few pennies without sacrificing that lovely festive vibe - read on for more details!
1. Hand-make a unique Christmas tree (from $5 - $15)
Traditional pine trees (both fresh and faux) can be a tad costly, but just because you're sticking to a budget, doesn't mean you have to do without! Try one of these creative alternatives for a pretty tree without the price tag:
- A tree made out of rosemary sprigs (via Almost Makes Perfect) will set you back maybe $5 - $15 depending on the amount of rosemary you use. If you can get a hold of evergreen stems from your garden, even better - that way you can assemble the whole tree for free!
- For a cheaper option than rosemary, try making a tree out of twine (via Eline's Huis) and use the Christmas cards you receive from family and friends as the ornaments!
2. Make decorations from household items (from $0 - $20)
It's easy to be drawn to all the glittering Christmas decorations you see in stores come December, but you don't have to spend oodles on ornaments to achieve that festive look. There are so many ways to make decorations out of paper, yarn or upcycled items like pipe cleaners - and in many cases, they can look just as good (or even better) than the store bought variety!
- Here's a whole heap of paper projects you can make. Raid the printer tray!
- If you're after baubles for your tree, these intricate beauties (via How About Orange) only require coloured paper - a pack of 100 sheets will cost around $7.
- Or perhaps you'd like something with a little more texture? These pretty stars (via Mama Miss) can be made with a $5 ball of yarn and some cardboard.
- These geometric pipe cleaner ornaments (via Love Maegan) will add a whole lot of sparkle to your tree without the hefty price tag - a packet of 100 pipe cleaners may set you back around $7.
- Paper garlands made out of scrapbook paper (via Sarah Hearts), copy paper or wrapping paper are a simple and very pretty way to add colour to your living room. If you don't already have patterned paper at hand, a full pack will cost around $10 on Amazon.
3. Take advantage of inexpensive group activities ($0 - $20)
So as an adult I'm perfectly happy to spend all of Christmas day chatting away with family and friends and stuffing my face with food. ;)
But if you've got kids who need to be entertained or young-at-heart grown-ups that like to play games, there are plenty of activities to choose from that won't break the bank.
- Before the party starts, get the little ones involved in some of the preparations like Christmas baking - you'll have the kids entertained and dessert in the works at the same time!
- Got some board games lying around? These make great party activities when you've got a big group to join in the fun. You can pull out the classics you've already got in the cupboard or if you're after something new, try DIYing your own like these home made Chinese Checkers (via Lovely Indeed), Guess Who (via Almost Makes Perfect) or darts (via Lovely Indeed). The materials for these will cost around $10 - $20.
- If you're lucky enough to experience a white Christmas, head outdoors and build a snowman! It's fun, free and it'll help you work off that Christmas lunch. :)
- After dinner, why not hop in the car and take a tour of the Christmas lights in your neighbourhood? It's a free activity that'll really get everyone in the festive spirit.
- When the night starts to set in and the little ones are getting drowsy, it's the perfect time to microwave some popcorn and put on a movie. Christmas favourites are always more fun to watch with a crowd and a Netflix subscription (from $10) will give you a whole host of flicks to choose from.
4. Get crafty with your gifts (from $5 - $15 per gift)
Okay, I'll admit that presents can be a little harder to fit into a tight budget, especially if you've got a lot of people to buy for or kids who have their hearts set on the latest toys and gadgets. But there are still ways to save pennies here and there by DIYing where you can; many handmade gifts can look super impressive but will still come in at under $15 for materials:
- Try these super awesome handmade ideas (via Curbly) for the men in your life
- Or these pretty DIY gifts (via Martha Stewart) for your girlfriends, sisters and mum
- Got kids to buy for? There are plenty of gifts that you can make (via Everything Etsy) that they'll just love.
- And here are some lovely stocking stuffers (via Curbly) that your friends won't believe you handmade.
- Lastly, if you're stuck for ideas, try baking something sweet like prettily packaged gingerbread - it's an inexpensive gift that your family and friends will love.
5. Get your gift wrap for free!
The internet is an amazing place where all manner of lovely free things reside. And holiday gift wrap is one of those things! Head to your favourite design websites and check the 'printables' sections for free gift wrap, gift tags and greeting cards - or refer to list below for some of my favourites:
- Printable gift tags by Almost Makes Perfect
- Printable reindeer envelopes by Design Eat Repeat
- Printable reindeer greeting card by Design is Yay
- Printable tree and holly paper by Giochi di Carta
- Printable gift card holders by Pretty Providence
6. Get savvy with your festive feast
Just because you're saving pennies doesn't mean you need to compromise on flavour or quality when it comes to your Christmas feast. There are a few ways to 'trim the fat' so to speak and still have a droolworthy meal that everyone will love.
- Choose a more cost-effective main course. Instead of opting for goose or duck, make a roast chicken or pork dish.
- Get family and friends to chip in! It's a tradition in my family for each person to bring a dish to Christmas lunch - this helps save time and money, and has the added benefit of ensuring the festive meal is interesting and varied each year.
- If you're serving drinks at your party, make punch instead of cocktails; not only will it look deliciously festive, it'll also use less alcohol.
- Be smart about your shopping: buy non-perishable or frozen items a few weeks in advance so you can get them when they're on special (and make sure you use coupons if you have them).
- Shop at discount stores like Aldi to get as many ingredients as you can at lower prices.
- Check out some of the online guides to making Christmas dinner on a budget - there are plenty out there that can help you organise a scrumptious festive meal, right down to the individual ingredients you need to buy, without breaking the bank (like this lovely Christmas lunch via Delia Smith, or these savvy tips from Tesco)