Create a Magical Christmas on a small budget

It's only fair to share...

The tree, the lights, the shopping, the presents, the partying – the excitement and energy of Christmas can be contagious, and it’s hard to resist getting swept up in it all. But it can cost a bomb and hit your budget hard.

Here’s out top tips to enjoying the festive season without maxing out your cash – or stress levels!

DIY gifts that won’t break the bank

You really don’t need to go on a spending frenzy and splurge a load of cash to come up with some awesome gifts.

  • Use your time and talents to make some creative DIY gifts that will delight everyone.
    • Make your own bath bombs
    • box up some beautifully baked sweet treats – try pudding, cookies, chocolates or cake
    • give babysitting vouchers so that your friends can have some time out while you mind their kids
    • if you’re handy with a camera, gift a photography session to friends or family so they can have some beautiful new family photos
    • host an in-home pamper evening and give a friend a facial or pedicure
    • if you can sew, whip up some tote bags for adults, or perhaps personalised library bags for the kids
  • Remember that the true meaning of Christmas is about being together with family and friends – not presents! Minimise gift giving by introducing a one-present policy. When kids have only one gift to choose, they think pretty hard about it. Imagine the money, time, and energy you’ll save!
  • Even better, for the adults, why not resolve not to exchange gifts at all. Instead, agree to spend special time together after the holiday season, and focus on being together and enjoying each other’s company.

It’s a wrap!

Many people spend a small fortune on gift wrapping, and Australians send an extraordinary amount of paper to landfill each Christmas. Don’t waste a load of money – here’s some fabulous gift wrapping ideas that are cheap (or free!), fun and environmentally friendly.

  • If you have pre-schoolers, save all of those beautiful colourful paintings they bring home from Kindy every week. They make wonderful personalised wrapping that is treasured almost as much as the gift they enclose!
  • Use recycled butcher’s paper, and every year save wrapping paper, ribbons and gift cards for re-use. Many boxes are reusable and with a bit of imagination can be used in any number of ways, as can recycled paper such as newspaper and music scores.
  • Grab a few cheap rolls of plain brown paper and use a black marker to write festive messages and create geometric designs for a funky and personalised wrapping theme. Check out these wonderful examples for some inspiration!
  • Another beautiful wrapping idea using brown paper is to layer it over another colour or design, and use a Stanley knife to cut out a festive shape and reveal the colour below.
  • A unique – and free! – wrapping idea is to use newspaper. You can even add some string or plant sprigs for a personalised touch.
  • Make your own gorgeous little gift boxes out of old toilet rolls – see here for a how-to guide.
  • And for a larger gift box, use emptied breakfast cereal boxes and follow this simple guide to make your own.

Crafty cards

Don’t spend a fortune on stock-standard Christmas cards – get the kids involved (or explore your own inner child and creativity!) and make your own beautiful handmade cards. Your recipients will adore them!

Food, fabulous food!

We all know that Christmas time usually means food, food and more food! And if you’re hosting family and friends, all of those groceries and beautiful meals can get really expensive.

  • For festive food ideas and inspiration that won’t blow your budget, Check out our guide to Christmas cooking on a budget.
  • Plan ahead. Set your menu nice and early and spread out your grocery shopping across the weeks leading up to the festive season, so that your grocery budget doesn’t take a big hit all in one week.
  • Keep an eye on supermarket specials so that you can grab lots of your ingredients and supplies at discounted prices in the weeks before Christmas. It’s also a great way to ensure you have what you need before popular items are at marked up prices, in scarce supply or out of stock!
  • Delegate! Spread the workload – and the cost and stress – by asking your guests to contribute different parts of the meal.

Setting the scene

Once you have the menu and food under control, there’s the table setting to think about. You don’t have to splash the cash to create the beautiful looks you admire in magazines and on tv shows.

  • One of the hottest trends this year is to go rustic with your table decorations. Think brown paper as table runners and place mats, and use black marker to add festive messages and place cards.
  • Bring the outdoors in and use plant sprigs such as rosemary at each place setting to add a touch of greenery.
  • Or get fruity – use fruits like pineapples or apples as centrepieces and decoration to create a fun and festive look with a twist.
  • You’ll find loads of budget-friendly table decorating ideas like these here.

Remember your relationships – and take time to relax!

Sure, it’s hard to sit back and chill out until the last of the gifts have been opened, the beautiful food all eaten and the washing up done! But once the craziness of Christmas Day has subsided, take time to remember what it’s all about – and chillax!

Enjoy this special time with friends, family and loved ones, and hopefully a few days break from your usual daily routine. Enjoy the summer sunshine, get outdoors and take time to recharge and reconnect with those around you. After all, it’s what this special time of year is all about!