How to: Celebrate Christmas on a budget
Have a beautiful Christmas celebration without going over budget.Are you punching numbers into your calculator and scratching your head, wondering how on earth you’re going to stick to your Christmas budget? Believe it or not, the holidays can be done on a dime. And with a little creativity and some expert advice, you’ll get through the holiday season with some cash to spare. Read on and discover expert advice for decorating your home, entertaining your pals and exchanging gifts in style -- all on a budget.
Decor on a dime
Getting your home ready for the holidays doesn’t have to mean redecorating your entire house. Adding small accents to your living space is an affordable and tasteful way to create some festive flair in your home.
“I think decorating for Christmas should be easy, fun, and affordable,” says design expert and TV personality Debbie Travis. “It’s not about decorating every area and surface in the home, but keeping it focused and decorating only the key impact areas.”
Here are some ways to save on decorating this holiday season
Try bargaining for your tree
Haggling for a Christmas tree is pretty common practice. Don’t be afraid to offer less than asking price – the proprietor will probably ask for a bit more than your offer, and hopefully you can meet in the middle. Saving a few dollars on your tree will feel great, and hey, every buck counts!
Repurpose decor items you already have in your home
“I like to repurpose as much of my year-round decor for the holidays as I can,” says Sarah, author of the blog Thrifty Décor Chick. “I reuse urns and fill them with them with poinsettias, fill trays or baskets with garland, or fill cloches or candleholders with ornaments and other Christmas goodies.”
Forgo a trip to the florist
Arranged flowers can cost you a bundle, so why not make your own holiday arrangements? Gather fallen evergreen branches from your yard or a local park, purchase some winterberry branches to mix in and display them in a large vase on your table. They’ll also look great in a collection of classic Mason jars decorated with a piece of tartan ribbon.
Invest in some holiday decor staples
“My must-haves for holiday decor are pretty simple -- garland and lights,” says Sarah. “I use inexpensive garland for a spot like the mantel, then fluff it with sprigs of more realistic greenery, maybe add something sparkly and then the lights. The look of full greenery lit up from within is stunning!” Find some basic staples like these that’ll give any room a festive look. Budget bonus: You’ll use them year after year.
Go for the unexpected
“Be creative and use ornaments and decor in different ways to add personal and unexpected touches to your holiday decorating,” advises Debbie. “Hang clear or silver ornaments with ribbon to your chandelier or hanging lights -- adds such a sparkly look to holiday dining!”
Stylish entertaining on a budget
A holiday party doesn’t have to be a four-course meal and an open bar. “It's possible to entertain on a budget,” agrees Joy, author of the blog Joy the Baker. “The holidays are the best time of year to get together and share the love. There’s no reason that should break the bank.”Don’t have an open bar
Instead, make one festive cocktail. You’ll only need to buy the ingredients for one type of mixed drink, as well as some wine and beer. Not having to stock a full bar will save you a bundle.
Forget a sit down dinner
Purchase some cheese, crackers, olives and other marinated vegetables, quality cold cuts, and fresh French bread. Indicate on your invitation your party will be cocktails and nibblies, so folks know not to arrive too hungry. Bonus: this type of party is far easier to prep for, and there will be fewer dishes to clean up, too.
Host a potluck
OK, we know potlucks have a bad rap, but they’re great if done with style. Designate in advance who brings what so there are no gaps in the meal, set out your serving dishes so you can re-plate the food when your guests arrive (no need to serve in Tupperware containers!), and have your guests sit down to a fabulous, filling meal.
“I cut costs by creating a mostly vegetarian meal,” say Joy. “Meat is expensive. Beans and greens are much easier on the budget ... I make things like stew, soups, salads and quinoa cakes. Easy, healthful and delicious!”
Nix the expensive centrepiece
Small objects you can find around the house will make great tabletop decor. “I love to decorate with giant bowls of fruit like pears, apples, and clove-studded oranges. They look beautiful and the pears and apples are totally edible,” says Joy.
Don’t bother with themed serving plates
Sarah advises using all white serving dishes – not only can you use them year-round, but they’ll match any accent you decide to use for table decoration, like vintage ornaments, greenery or glowing candles. “You can't go wrong with a mix of a little bling, nature and the glow of candles,” she says.
Gifts that are easy on the wallet
Presents are the part of the holidays that can really set you back. But what’s the sense in suffering through all that stress? Get your family and friends on board for celebrating with small thoughtful gifts. After all, Christmas is about being with the people you love, not the gifts.
Shake things up
Ask your friends to forgo the gift exchange this year. Instead, set a date for everyone to go out for a nice dinner after the holidays. You’ll just have to cover your own meal, rather than buy gifts for everyone.
Do it yourself
Nothing says ‘thoughtful’ like some homemade goodies. Instead of buying something for every hostess you visit this holiday season, make a few batches of cookies, fudge or brittle and deliver it to them in a pretty package when you arrive at their party. Most families love a gift from the kitchen. Not into baking? Try handcrafting a tasteful ornament for their Christmas tree.
Play Secret Santa
Plan for the adults in your family to partake in a Secret Santa this year, instead of buying everyone a gift. Simply pick names out of a hat or sign everyone up on Elfster.com (keep the name a secret until your exchange), set a price range, buy your lucky recipient a fabulous present and have a gift exchange all together at your holiday gathering. Everyone will love the suspense -- and be relieved to save a few extra dollars.