We wish you a frugal Christmas – DIY projects and gifts to save you money

With a little imagination and DIY know-how you can save money this holiday season by making your own gifts, decorations and wrapping paper. JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

The holidays are an expensive time, from gifts to travel costs, party food, party outfits, hostess gifts – it can all add up to a hefty credit card bill once the merriment wears off. If you’re looking to save some money this Christmas, try some of these ideas for free (and if not free, relatively inexpensive) holiday items.

Printable gift tags and cards

If you have access to a printer, many websites offer free designs for printable items including gift tags, invitations and greeting cards.

The blog “Hey Look” has a number of hand-drawn gift tags that can be downloaded and printed at home.

‘Hey Look’ blog offers a number of hand-drawn gift tags that can be printed at home. Hey Look Blog

MStetson Design has sweet and simple watercolour gift tags that you can print off, cut out and attach to your gifts.

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Pinterest contains a number of free gift tags just itching to be re-pinned and printed.

Greetings Island has a number of free, printable holiday cards as does Blue Mountain.

Gift wrap

Reuse paper grocery bags, old maps, parcel paper and even newsprint instead of store-bought wrapping paper. Not sold on using yesterday’s newspaper as gift wrap? Just check out how good it can look over at “six0six design.”

Wrapping presents in newsprint can look better than you’d think. six0sixdesign

Save and re-use all those gift bags you’ve received over the years. Other ideas for gift wrapping hacks and tips can be found here.

READ MORE: Best gift-wrapping hacks and tips

E-cards and invitations

Companies like Blue Mountain and Punchbowl allow users to scrap the snail mail and send holiday e-cards via email.

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Companies like Paperless Post allow you to create and customize free cards and invitations and for a small fee allow you access to more templates and greater customization. The company also offers tracking for invitations you’ve sent out or events you’ve RSVP’d to.

DIY decorations

Take a cue from our friends at HGTV and make your own holiday decorations. With a little DIY know-how, old Christmas tree balls, wire and hot glue, you can make your own festive wreath (step-by-step instructions can be found here).

With a little DIY know-how, old Christmas tree balls, wire and hot glue, you can make your own festive wreath.

If you’re feeling extra crafty (and are willing to spend a few dollars at your local craft store), you can make your own ornaments out of Styrofoam balls and a few crafting supplies (step-by-step instructions can be found here).

Red and white canning lids can easily be turned into a candy-cane stripped wreath. Get the instructions at the “twelveOeight” blog.

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Get inspired by nature by collecting items from the outdoors to use in your holiday décor. Place pinecones in a glass bowl for a centrepiece or make your own wreath using fresh greenery like pine boughs or ivy (instructions here).

Get inspired by nature by collecting items from the outdoors to use in your holiday décor. Jorma Marstio, STRLEHT


If you are short on cash, there are many ways to give thoughtful, unique gifts without breaking the bank.

Baked goods make lovely hostess gifts. “Not everyone loves to cook, but I think lots of people like the idea of making something special for Christmas or just taking around when you’re going to a dinner party or something,” says Alison Walker, author of Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen: More than 100 Culinary Inspired Presents to Make and Bake.

READ MORE: Spread some joy by making simple and tasteful holiday gifts

Holiday cookie inspired by Sky Bar candy bars
This Oct. 20, 2014 photo shows cloud cookies in Concord, N.H. When it comes to holiday cookies, everything depends on the recipe and a few simple techniques. AP Photo/Matthew Mead

Try these holiday recipes below:

Other edible gift ideas include preserves or chutneys in a glass jar tied with a ribbon, or bottling homemade liqueurs and extracts.

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Make your own vanilla extract by taking a full vanilla bean and slicing it lengthwise. Place the bean in a bottle of clear liquor like vodka or rum. Heather Loney, Global News

If you’re buying a present for the musician in your life, print off free sheet music of your favourite songs on high-quality paper and tie them in a pretty ribbon.

Rather than spoiling your kids with presents, spoil them with your time by taking them on family outings to the skating rink or other holiday events.

READ MORE: Want to avoid toy overload this holiday? 5 alternative gift ideas for kids

Give the gift of your time and skill. Offer up a free night of babysitting for your friends with a new baby or spend a weekend painting your parents living room for them.

-With a file from The Canadian Press

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