The cost of presents is one thing, but the hidden financial reality of the holidays is all the other stuff we end up buying this time of year. From gift wrapping supplies to home decorations to nice outfits, it seems like the expenses this time of year never end – and the credit card debt just keeps growing.
The good news – there’s no need to sacrifice style for the sake of frugality. Here’s DIY Christmas suggestions for getting holiday-ready on the cheap – and minimize the seasonal damage to your credit card.
Gift Wrapping Gear
There’s a reason why Dollarama is such a Canadian success story: this place has great wrapping paper, ribbon, gift bags and more. But be wary when you buy discount wrapping paper: it can be very thin and while you may be able to get what appears to be a big tube for $1, read the label to be sure there’s some length there. Drug stores and other retailers often sell reasonably priced paper as well.
DIY options are also gaining popularity. Using newspaper for gifts and decorating it with paint, stickers or stamps is a great idea, but may not go over well for something like a housewarming gift. A better idea: reuse old holiday cards or cardboard for DIY gift labels. Adding a holiday sticker or two (super cheap at the dollar store) can make a homemade label look much better than a store-bought.
Save on Holiday Greetings
Depending on who you send holiday cards to, you can move away from paper cards and into electronic options. Sites like egreetings.com and Blue Mountain will let you customize and send ecards and eletters with pictures for free. It’s important to not take this too far, though: your grandma and aunts may not be so digitally oriented, so make sure you stick to traditional paper if need be in those cases.
Art supply stores sell blank cards that you can customize if you are creative. This may save you a little money but require more time. Bonus: if your cards are truly fantastic, they can act as a gift in and of themselves for teachers, hosts, neighbours and the like.
Don’t Pay For Dying Decor Items
My local grocery store is selling a lovely, dolled up holiday-style hanging basket for $20. That may not seem not so bad, but this is a perishable item that will turn into brown needles by the new year – and those $20 items really add up over time! Unexpected placed like Home Depot sell simply decorated artificial wreaths and other décor items that you can use as it, or customized, and they can be used year after year.
DIY Decor Options
Go for a walk this time of year and collect dried grasses, acorns and anything else that looks pretty. Dress up your mantle with these natural items and punctuate them with a ribbon, tree decorations and whatever else you have lying around for a cheap but custom look.
Fancy Holiday Fashion for Less
My gorgeous holiday dress for this season came from a retailer’s sample sale. At these events, local designers are often dramatically discounting their line, and it’s usually great stuff. Follow sample sales here for a few major Canadian cities. There’s actually nothing wrong with paying full price for holiday wear: just be sure what you get can be worn to multiple events by switching up accessories for women or shirts for men.
Be Your Own Designer
Take the classic sleeveless black dress you wear in warmer weather and switch it up with a glittery cardigan. Offer up some of your favourite bags and accessories to friends and borrow some of their items for the next month in a cost-free swap.
When you save on the side costs of the holiday, it frees up more of your budget for great gifts for loved ones and makes those credit card bills in the new year much less painful.