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Whatever your budget, you can have a sensational silly season all your family and friends will remember. We've put some of our favourite festive tips together. Check them out!

Decorating

  • Make your own wreath using Christmas tree offcuts. Ask your local Christmas tree seller if they have any off-cut branches you can have for cheap, or use branches from an old artificial tree.
  • Shape your branches into a wreath shape and fasten with rustic looking yarn. Add some sparkle with ribbons, glitter and other decorations. Get creative!
  • Re-purpose your clear and empty coffee jars, sauce jars and jam jars and turn them into Christmas centrepieces! You can fill them with festive lollies, tinsel, baubles or seed lights.
  • Zip ties are great at keeping sparkly Christmas lights on bannisters and fences.
  • Spray paint old light bulbs or cover them in glitter to string up as DIY baubles.
  • Make a batch of cookies the day before using a Christmas cookie cutter. Once baked, use a sharp knife to make a whole at the top of the cookie and tie a bit of ribbon to make a loop. You now have edible Christmas decorations!
  • Consider theming your Christmas day. Whether it’s tacky Christmas, tropical Christmas (or even Pirate Christmas, arrrrh!) you’ll find a fun and interesting way to decorate your house that your guests will never forget! Just remember to keep some things traditional, like a Christmas ham.

Gifts and gift-wrapping

  • Chop up old Christmas cards to use as gift tags.
  • Try searching markets, op shops or garage sales for small pressies and stocking fillers – you can score some goodies if you look hard enough!
  • Wrap presents with pics from old calendars, photocopied book pages, magazines, or music sheets, old maps, or use kids’ drawings!
  • Do a Secret Santa with friends or family instead of everyone buying for everyone. Set a price limit, and if everyone is focused on getting one person a really great gift, they'll be really stoked.
  • Once you’ve wrapped your gifts, use used toilet tubes to keep wrapping paper rolls in place
  • For the person who has everything, consider gifting them a PAK’nSAVE Gift Card!
  • You don’t have to buy one expensive gift per person! Find a basket or tin, then make your own gift hampers for an awesome personalised gift that is simple and easy on the wallet.
  • Create a “Recipe in a jar” gift. Use one of your favourite cookie or cake recipes and layer all the dry ingredients inside your jar. Make sure the lid is firmly secured, and make sure you include a tag or card along with the card that specifies the recipe’s other ingredients (like butter and milk) and cooking instructions.

Food and drink

  • Try to do as much food prep in advance so there’s less stress on the day! Some examples: peel and chop veges; prepare stuffing, salads and side dishes and refrigerate; and days out you could even make and freeze mince pies and gravy.
  • Make soup with any leftovers from Christmas lunch and dinner – just pop in a large pot with an onion, stick of celery and some herbs, then fill with water, bring to the boil and once bubbling, cover and simmer for as long as you can (more than three hours ideally!).
  • If you're having a large group over, assign everyone a dish to bring! Much less stress for the host, and the cost is shared among all guests!
  • Make sure you check out the rest of our Christmas recipes for more meal ideas.

We asked you to share your tips for a more affordable Stickmas! Everyone had great ideas – here are just a few.

Plan plan plan

Santa was on to something when he made a list and checked it twice. Lots of people said they write down all the people they have to buy gifts for to avoid doubling up, but that’s not the only tip:

  • Cheryl T says she “Buys Christmas presents throughout the year and put them aside. It spreads the cost, you can take advantage of specials and there is no last minute dash to the shops.” It’s not just pressies to think about! Emily R plans to “Buy Christmas crackers on Boxing Day when they're cheap and save them for next Christmas, that way you aren't wasting money on silly bits of plastic and terrible jokes.”
  • Colleen H is already thinking about dessert! “I buy my butter and fruit mince when on special and put in deep freeze so my Christmas cakes are cheaper to make.” That’s a great plan – butter can be expensive, but freezes perfectly and keeps for months and months.
  • Jessica G knows that “PAK’nSAVE Christmas Club is amazing, pop away a few dollars each time you shop and it adds up quickly, you also get a lovely bonus if used at the end of the year.” Check out Christmas Club here – it’s not too early to start saving for next year!
Make your own

A homemade Christmas is more affordable – and more special too. Something you’ve made yourself shows the recipient that you’ve been thinking of them.

  • Wendy M recommends “Make your own gift hampers, so simple and so much cheaper on the wallet. Some nice coffee and tea and biscuits for mum wrapped up pretty. Some seed packets and seedlings for the stepfather who is green fingered and I also get to reap the benefits of the garden! It’s personalised for the individual and there is nothing in there that the person won’t use.”
  • Adrienne L plans to “Make homemade fudge and wrap in cellophane for delicious and cheap Christmas gifts!” There’s a great recipe here, or what about Chocolate Coffee Truffles, or Coconut Ice - yum!
  • Sometimes the wrapping paper can be almost as expensive as another gift! Emma R says “Don't spend more on things like gift tags and wrapping. Recycle used wrapping paper and get the kids to help making gift tags and Christmas decorations.” Kotua says “Use kids kindy paintings as wrapping paper. Homemade with love so your family can keep the pictures as well. And if you are like me and keep every single drawing, using them to wrap presents gives you storage for hundred more pics your kids are going to bring home this month!”
The Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner is often the biggest – and most expensive! – meal of the year. Take some of the stress out of it with these tips:

  • Dawn L shops smart. “Get a group together, either family/whanau or workmates and do a bulk shop then divide your spoils. It often works out cheaper to buy bulk and it can be fun. Great for people who live on their own, big families, and people with no transport. Everyone benefits!” This works well for things like sacks of potatoes, flour and sugar, and even big tubs of ice cream can be divided up.
  • Lauren C is going to “Brainstorm a menu and make each person responsible for one dish, so you can have a massive dinner for everyone and only have to worry about one plate of food!”
  • Emma K had the same thought but says, “The biggest thing to remember – and this is where I used to go so wrong – only bring enough food to feed your family.  Otherwise you have lots of leftovers and therefore wasted food.
  • If you do have leftovers, Dianne J says to “Look up recipes on the net to use up leftovers from Christmas celebrations. So much is wasted that could be used for another one or two meals!”
Don’t be too tied to traditions

You can have a very merry Christmas even if it’s not exactly traditional! Traditions can be wonderful, but they sometimes mean "spend money, just because." Here's a few untraditional Christmas tips:

  • Sheree B plays “Secret Santa with the family instead of buying an individual gift for everyone - saves money as you’re only buying one gift and it is fun trying to guess who has you!”
  • Janet T suggests “Have no gifts but use the money for a day of yummy foods and fun activities.”
  • Sandra W is going to skip the turkey this year. “Make your Christmas meal a flash BBQ (better cuts of meat than usual etc) - easy to prepare, cheaper and let’s face it the kids don't want veges anyway!”