Save Money this Festive Season

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

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With Christmas fast approaching, its only natural to feel stressed.  The pressure to spend is everywhere and at times, can seem overwhelming.  With this in mind, we've compiled the following hints to help you breeze through the festive season. 

Cards

If you're like most people, you'll understand the pressure to get the Christmas cards out before the postal rush.  If you want to send them, but need to scale down, consider sending cards to the people you would like to get in touch with the most.  Why not cut your old Christmas cards from last year in half, and send the coloured side as a postcard.  This not only saves money, but is kinder to the planet.  Another great idea is to send an e-card.  This is a free option and is great for overseas family, or if you're unsure of the address. The following link can  provide more options.

Gift Wrap

When it comes to Christmas, nothing is more frustrating than the mountains of wrapping paper which often end up in the landfill.  To cut down on  waste, why not recycle old paper from previous years.  To get rid of wrinkles, set the iron on the lowest setting and iron on the blank side.  Old tissue paper, in assorted colours can also double as wrapping paper.  Paper from glossy magazines can also used to wrap smaller gifts. The advantage is that there is no printers ink which can rub off on the item. The best money saving option is to get the store to gift wrap your purchase free of charge.

Decorations

To add some festive cheer, why not invest in a good quality artificial tree. These can be purchased from fairs, garage sales, or on Trademe.  To make a Christmas centre-piece for the table, assemble some pine cones, a candle, foliage and some ribbon. You can then follow the instructions at this link.

rsz_artificial_christmas_decoration_200891

Pine cones and shells make good Christmas tree decorations.  For the cones,  sprinkle with glitter or flour for a fun effect.  Use ribbon or sewing thread and attach using a drawing pin.  For the shells, drill a hole through the top and loop some thread through it.  Streamers made from crepe paper are a cheap and fun way to decorate a room.  Crepe paper can be purchased from the Warehouse at around $1.50 per roll.  It is available in a variety of colours ranging from gold and silver to orange and blue. 

Gifts

When it comes to presents, it pays to be on the same page as the family as different expectations can lead to stress.  At least a month before the big day, sit down with those that you will be sharing christmas with, and establish a few ground rules.

Nowadays, a  number of people have eschewed gift giving completely, in favour of spending quality time together.  A good option could be to give each other IOU's to be redeemed in the New Year.  Examples could include volunteering to baby-sit the grand-kids, mowing Uncle Bill's lawn, or any other charitable deed that comes to mind.

If you want to go down the traditional route, but still be within budget, agree to a monetary limit on spending.  For some this could be $5 gifts which are appropriate for all ages and genders.  Each person brings one gift and on the day they are put into a santa sack and randomly distributed. If a guest is unhappy with their gift they can always exhange it with someone else.

The best stores to purchase low-cost gifts are at the $2 shops found through out NZ.  The Warehouse also offers many other options.

Food

One of the easiest ways to blow your budget, is to overspend on food.  If you are the one hosting Christmas dinner, it is best to decide on a strict budget and stick to it.  The first step is to write a list of everything you'll need for the big day.  This will include items such as nibbles, dips, drinks, desserts and food for the main course.  Once you've compiled your list, keep a close watch on supermarket prices and buy items when they go on special.

dining_table

It is important not to feel pressured into the traditional fare.  For a Summer Christmas, many families are opting for a BBQ or picnic on Christmas day, rather than the typical cooked meal. Whatever option you choose, make sure your guests are willing to contribute to the meal.  Assigning a dish to each guest ensures the stress is taken off the host and saves money. 

The easiest way to save on drinks is to ask your guests to BYO. Alternatively, start early and keep an eye out for specials on both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.  Punch is a great way to serve alcoholic beverages because the cheaper juices stretch the more expensive alcoholic drinks further.  A cheap and tasty punch recipe can be found here.

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