Yes, you may not have noticed but it’s that time of year again. OK, so you noticed; funny that. With the major, minor and the somewhere-in-between retailers ramping up their advertising campaigns the holidays may not be quite upon us but they have us in their sights. If this time of year has you glancing from bank statement to wish-list, from credit card statement to
Santa-bound letters and from a Christmas card list almost as long as your overdraft fees and charges schedule, don’t panic. There is still time to cut costs, bring some of the joy back into the world and even involve your family in the process! Here are some of the best ways to make this Christmas an Arts and Crafts Christmas.
Christmas Cards the DIY Way
Making your own Christmas cards is nothing new – people have been doing it almost as long as the near-unbearable social pressure to send them began. Art and craft versions – the home-made and DIY version – have fallen in and out of favour over the generations but are, once again, thankfully cool again. Crafts supplies – catering to both the experienced and the defiantly all-thumbs individual – vary in cost but are widely available. If you fall into the all-thumbs category, don’t worry, you can still find easy to use kits to help you out. Papercraft supplies are also easy to source and making Christmas cards along with the family is also fun, gets kids away from whatever screen they’re attached to and you may even teach them that real-world antics can, on occasion, beat the virtual world ones.
Unique and Edible Decorations
Decorations; once again, handmade beats commercially produced every time. Make your tree, and home, stand out with decorations made by yourself and your little helpers. Spray paint foliage, pine cones and leafless branches to create centre pieces or door wreaths and consider baking up a few tree decorations to add that edible extra special touch. Again, these activities are best performed with added children; it teaches them useful skills – how to bake for Mum or Dad – and also helps them to understand that all that glitters needn’t cost the quite so much gold.
Personal Touches and Fairy Tale Endings
Depending on your skill level, gifts can also be home-made using relatively cheap materials. From knitting to quilting you can create far more original gifts for friends and family. For younger kids you can write or illustrate your own version of their favourite fairy story – personalising it with characters they know and, of course, starring themselves! Today it’s possible to have these printed professionally – see CreateSpace, Ingram Spark or FeedAReed. These can be great presents to encourage your own kids’ creativity as well as making Christmas truly magical.
Baking, Brewing and Other Kitchen Antics
If you’re a bit of a kitchen goddess, or god, home-made preserves, jams, cakes, beers or wines are a great idea for your wider family and friends. You can use these as a base for a personally prepared hamper. Even if you buy some of the ingredients, creating a bespoke individual hamper can usually be brought in well under the cost of the commercial variety.
Crowd Fund Christmas with Creative Catering
Christmas is a time for sharing and sharing can save you some serious money over the holiday season – particularly on the big day itself. If you aren’t doubling up on the cost with your extended family this year consider asking another family to join you – one you know is a good start! For many families on a tight budget at this time of year, sharing the day can have a very beneficial impact on the finance front. Work out a budget between the two (or more groups), make the most of vouchers and offers when food shopping and you’ll find that the cost of food and drink for the festive season could be cut in half, at least. What’s more the leftovers tend not to linger when there are more people to feed. Food waste is a big issue all year round but at this time of year a surprising amount of sprouts end up on the refuse heap. OK, maybe not the surprising. But a joint celebration certainly impacts on the cost and the waste involved in Christmas in a big way.
Creative thinking and creative pursuits can save you plenty of money all year round but at Christmas a little arts, crafts and cost-cutting thinking can make a real difference. The beauty of a ‘home-made’ Christmas is that it’s far closer to the real spirit of the season than the very commercialised option that we often find ourselves facing. Personal gifts, communal gatherings and home-crafted cards are often far more appreciated than those commercial alternatives.