Christmas can be a very expensive time of year. Even when you manage to set a careful budget, there are so many hidden traps that blow your plan out of the water. For those of you who are trying to manage the holidays on a tiny budget, I’ve got a few tips for you.
If you’re into handicrafts, then Christmas is the perfect time to show off your skills. Handmade gifts show that you really care, and give you the opportunity to flex your creative muscles. It’s often a lot cheaper to make your own gifts than it is to buy them. You might also like to do some de-stashing projects to use up items that are kicking around in your craft stash. Gifting and de-cluttering in one!
Strike a bargain
Have a chat to some of your mates and agree not to exchange gifts this year. Perhaps arrange to do something special in lieu of giving a gift, like going out for morning tea or catching a movie together. Chances are your financially challenged friends will be relieved to be able to cross you off their gift-list too.
When the holidays roll around, you might get sucked into buying gifts for more people than you’d originally intended. It might sound a bit “bah humbug”, but when you’re on a budget it’s a good idea to limit the people you buy gifts for to just those who are most important to you. If you can do so gracefully, opt out of the office Secret Santa and decide not to buy gifts for distant relations that you never see. That way you’ll be able to allocate more of your gift budget to those people who mean the most to you.
Have a Kris Kringle
Why not get together with your family and organize a Kris Kringle? Each person chooses one person at random to buy a gift for. You can set a limit on how much is to be spent on gifts, and that way each person only has to buy one present. This eliminates the need to buy lots of little gifts and instead you can focus on buying just one quality gift. This tends to work best with large families and groups of adults (children tend to get a bit antsy at the idea of just getting one gift, no matter how good it is).
Get creative with your wrapping
I like to save interesting bits and pieces throughout the year to use as gift wrapping. Gorgeous bags and boxes from parcels, swathes of fabric, scraps of ribbon and op-shop biscuit tins all work well to wrap your gifts in. This year, I got a tonne of vintage scarves from the op-shop for about 20 cents each that I’m going to use to wrap my pressies. In previous years I’ve used funky magazine spreads, newsprint and calico shopping bags as gift wrapping. Get creative and use what you have at hand. It helps to save cash and it looks a tad more interesting than the usual store-bought wrapping.
Hold a treat-swap
Christmas baking can get very pricey. If you’re anything like me, you like to bake a whole lot of delicious treats and try out new recipes. If you’re trying to save cash, why not organize a treat-swap with some of your friends? Each person makes a big batch of their favourite Christmas treat and packages up a parcel for each person who is participating. That way, you only have to make one thing but you get a whole lot of different treats to try. It costs a lot less to buy ingredients for just one recipe, even when you’re making it in bulk.
Decorating on a budget
I tend to get carried away with my Christmas decorating. There’s something about the shop displays of twinkling lights and glittering ornaments that appeals to my inner magpie and just makes me want to buy ALL THE THINGS.
On my first Christmas in my own place I bought a very basic Christmas tree and a few simple ornaments. My tree looked very pretty, but not very special. Each year I set aside a small budget to buy one very special Christmas ornament. I’m slowly building up a gorgeous collection of items that really mean something.
This year I’m also making some ornaments of my own. There are loads of different ways to do this: crocheting, crafts, hot-gluing, beading and sewing just to name a few.
Do you have any thrifty Christmas tips?