Adding festive flair on a budget

1 December 2022

For many of us, 2022 hasn’t been the year we’d hoped for. It’s heralded extraordinary geopolitical turmoil, with consequences ranging from high inflation to limited stocks of essential goods. As such, it’s tempting to throw caution to the wind and go all out to celebrate Christmas – which for the first time in three years shouldn’t be blighted by waves of COVID.

Sadly, many households are facing an unprecedented squeeze on their budgets right now, with energy prices leading the charge into double-digit inflation. Bringing Christmas cheer into your home might be important, but it could also be a lot more expensive than you’d originally budgeted for. Happily, there are plenty of ways to decorate your home which won’t cost the earth – either literally or metaphorically…

Go plastic-free

Garden centres are full of tinsel and baubles at this time of year; as with many other festive staples, they’re both made using plastic. Avoid plastic wherever possible, since it requires oil to manufacture and takes centuries to decompose in the soil. Minimising plastic will steer your festive décor in other, potentially cheaper directions – paper bunting, affordable matt wrapping paper that can be recycled (shiny paper has plastic in it and therefore can’t), and so forth. It’s better for the planet to buy one wooden decoration than two plastic ones.

Reuse old decorations

When you unbox your artificial tree this year, it will probably look a bit dishevelled and past its prime. Don’t despair. Once it’s been decorated, nobody will notice its condition – they’ll be too busy admiring the lights and decorations. You can also cover any bald patches or missing elements quite easily. Even if wreaths or garlands are starting to fray, throwing them into landfill and purchasing replacements is a considerable expense. Plus, retaining older decorations is pleasingly nostalgic if they have memories attached, and patinas add character.

Create memories with children

It costs nothing to do imaginative things with grandchildren or godchildren. Elf on the Shelf is a concept where naughty elves get up to mischief every night (or before people visit you) around the house. Hosting a games night or festive movie night can be as cheap as the snacks you serve, but it’ll be fondly remembered and could become an annual tradition. And what child wouldn’t want to come round on Christmas Eve to sprinkle ‘reindeer food’ on the lawn, leave a mince pie out for Santa and practice their carol singing?

Shop around

Many of us have a preferred supermarket or shop where we like to source our food, presents and decorations. Yet shopping around reveals unexpected bargains. Pay particular attention to the middle aisles of German discount supermarkets, where decorative inspiration could strike at any moment. Use online price comparison tools to investigate if you can source key items more affordably – you don’t need to buy your turkey from a premium retailer, for instance. Would anyone notice if you served up wonky veg or own-brand gravy?

Make things yourself

Even if you lack basic craft skills, it’s still easy to create paper snowmen chains for the hall or design your own Christmas cards. Self-assembly kits let you make and fill your own crackers, replacing generic plastic tat with things you’d actually like someone to receive. Adding festive stickers to crockery can transform its character without needing to buy new plates or bowls, and the only limits to tree decorations are your own imagination. Don’t be afraid to search online for inspiration, ideas and how-to guides.

Have a very merry Christmas!