Christmas sign in snowy forest landscape
Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas

How To Save Money And Time At Christmas

Cut the stress of Christmas and leave time to enjoy the festivities

We all know how expensive and stressful Christmas can be so any opportunity to save a couple of pounds and cut down on the workload is always welcome. If you have children you can kill two birds with one stone; save money by making your own decorations and gifts and keep them occupied at the same time.

Save money by making your own decorations for the Christmas tree; all these tips are easy and make great projects for children.

  • Biscuits are cheap and easy to make and ice and make great tree decorations; they are also a good introduction to baking for your children.

Christmas biscuits

  • Decorations can also be made from salt dough (mix ½ cup water, ½ cup salt and 1 cup plain flour). Roll out the dough and cut out with Christmas cookie cutters. Bake in the oven for 2 hours at a temperature of 120C (240F). Once cool you can paint them with acrylic paint and then glaze with PVA glue. Store somewhere dry otherwise they will disintegrate into mush.
  • Collect match boxes, wrap in glitzy or shiny paper and tie up with Christmas ribbon.

homemade Christmas decoration

  • You can also make paper chains instead of buying tinsel.

Wreaths, garlands and mantle swags are fairly expensive to buy and you don’t have to be florist to make one.

  • Collect fairly bendy twigs and form them into a circle; decorate with fresh greenery, cones, berries or baubles. They are easy to attach with thin green wire or gardener’s clip tie wire.

Christmas wreath made from conifer branches

  • Cut some conifer branches (spruce, fir or pine) and form them into a circle. Again just attach some berries, cones or berries. Don’t forget if the wreath is for outside any artificial berries or baubles are not usually waterproof and will peel if they become wet.
  • Garlands and mantle swags are easy to make by wiring the conifer branches together and decorating them to match your wreath.
  • Wire together lengths of ivy to make a garland to wind around the bannister.

Collect vegetation and give it a festive make-over; not only do you save money but you also have the health benefits from taking a walk in the countryside. Don’t forget you cannot collect from private property unless you have the landowner’s permission.

  • The gorgeous autumn colours of leaves can be preserved by soaking them in a glycerine solution; 1 part glycerine to 2 parts water. Weigh them down to make sure all the leaf is submerged. Leave them for 2 – 3 days then pat them dry on kitchen paper.
  • Collect leaves and dry them before the fire or radiator for a day then give them 3 – 4 coats of a metallic spray paint.
  • Spray cones and nuts with metallic paint or fake snow.
  • Collect dried flower heads; the larger ones like hydrangea seem to work best, and spray them with metallic paint. You can also sprinkle some glitter onto the wet paint.
  • Collect conifer and evergreen branches; they can be used in all sorts of ways to decorate the house. You can easily and quickly decorate the mantle-piece or table with a few sprigs of greenery, some cones or nuts and church candles. You can also add a small string of battery operated lights for a little extra sparkle.

Christmas conifer branches, candles, cinnamon

  • Dry slices of orange, lemon and lime for several hours in a cool oven and use to decorate your wreaths and garlands.

If you don’t like, or don’t have the space for a traditional Christmas tree why not make a contemporary tree out of pieces of wood, thin branches or just stand some branches in the corner of the room, either natural or sprayed with metallic paint or fake snow.

Twigs decorated with Christmas lights and baubles

Save money on wrapping paper by just using brown paper, festive ribbon and some fresh decorations: conifer sprigs, berries, dried citrus, dried sprayed flower heads or a hand-made salt dough decoration.

Make your own gift tags out of last year’s Christmas cards or buy plain brown tags and hand decorate.

The cost of sending Christmas cards can be reduced substantially by being organised and ruthless!

  • Keep a list of who sent you a card and stop sending cards to anyone who didn’t send you one.
  • Hit the January sales for half price cards and gift wrap.
  • Send e cards; they can be sent for free.
  • Making your own Christmas cards is a great project for children. Keep the design simple and use potato stamps instead of buying ready-made.

Presents are usually the largest cost associated with Christmas but by following a few tips you can substantially reduce your spend. Unfortunately the key to saving money on presents is to be organised and start well ahead; just after Christmas. Make a list and allocate a budget to each person; keep this in mind as you are going about your normal shopping throughout the year.

  • Go to the pound shops and charity shops first for stocking fillers.
  • Make your own gifts; jams, chutneys and sauces are easy and cheap if you have a glut of garden produce. Jars of homemade sweets can also be made to look special with some ribbon and a handmade decoration. These foodie gifts can easily form the basis for a small hamper.
  • Trawl the internet for offers and money off vouchers.
  • Stick to the list and budget; veering off will cost more money!
  • Don’t shop in the few weeks running up to Christmas as the shops are manic and you are more likely to just grab something in order to escape the whole experience! Goods are also usually full price running up to Christmas.
  • Go to evening classes and learn a craft; not only can you make Christmas gifts but also learn a new skill and make new friends.

Start a small vegetable garden and grow your own Christmas vegs; potatoes, carrots, swede, parsnips and Brussels sprouts are all cheap and easy to grow.

Being organised running up to Christmas will leave you plenty of free time to enjoy family and friends rather than running around shopping, cleaning, cooking and decorating the house.

  • Plan out a schedule for when the presents have to be bought, wrapped and delivered, food bought and prepped and the house and tree decorated.
  • Buy non-perishable food items in advance and try to shop for the perishable items in the evening when the supermarket will be a bit quieter.
  • Cook some of the Christmas lunch in advance and freeze.
  • Allocate different jobs to other members of the family.
  • Shop for and deliver presents well in advance so you are not rushing around at the last minute.

Even if you only follow a few of these tips Christmas could be cheaper and a little less stressful.

Head to our youtube channel to watch the videos showing how to decorate your home at Christmas on a budget.