At this time of year we’re bombarded with advertising trying to convince us that a special Christmas is dependent on us spending a lot of money. It’s easy to get sucked in and lose sight of what Christmas is really about. Having a frugal Christmas is about saving money, but it’s also about making time and space to connect with family and friends, and to cut down on the massive amount of waste that gets generated each year.
I think I’m quite lucky in that my family have always valued time spent together over expensive gifts. I’ve never felt the pressure to dip into my overdraft to make Christmas happen. The first step towards having a more frugal Christmas is to discuss your present expectations. One year, my Mum set the rule that gifts had to be from a charity shop or home made. I often make agreements with friends that instead of buying presents, we’ll put the money towards going out for drinks together and catching up. This year, my school friends and I have a secret Santa arrangement which means we’re each buying one present (with a price limit) instead of six.
Cards and wrapping presents
When it comes to cards and wrapping, my mantra is: re-use, re-use, re-use. At the start of December I did a count of all the Christmas cards I had left over from previous years and worked out that I didn’t need to buy any more packs. Some of these cards I’ll be sending as cards, and I used the rest to make gift tags for presents. For the wrapping paper, I ripped out pages from an old magazine. I decorated these with ribbon and bows that I had left over from last year, but you could also make your own bows out of paper.
My mantra for decorations is also re-use. Actually, it’s pretty much my first thought for any occasion: what do I already have that I can adapt for this purpose? You could make paper honeycomb decorations from old magazines or junk mail. Paper chains are perhaps the simplest decorations to make: just cut strips of any kind of paper and staple them together. This year, I’m using beads I don’t want for jewellery to make tree baubles and foliage cut from my grandparents garden to make wreaths.
Please leave your Christmas re-use tips in the comments.