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.
MStetson Design has sweet and simple watercolour gift tags that you can print off, cut out and attach to your gifts.
Pinterest contains a number of free gift tags just itching to be re-pinned and printed.
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.”
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
Try these holiday recipes below:
- Recipe for caramel peanut thumbprints
- Recipe for macaroon bars
- Recipe for chocolate peppermint patties
- Recipe for cloud cookies
- Recipe for frosted chocolate drops
Other edible gift ideas include preserves or chutneys in a glass jar tied with a ribbon, or bottling homemade liqueurs and extracts.
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.
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