In Christmas 2012, the ABS reported the average Australian home spent $20 on Christmas decorations, while 2 years later a report from Woolworths put this figure at $75. Whichever number is closer to the actual figures for this year, there’s little denying Christmas is expensive, so here are a few ways to save those extra few dollars as Christmas day approaches.
The cost of Christmas decorations
A Christmas tree from a mid-range retail store, sized at around 180cm can set you back $200. Tinsel often averages at around $15, baubles (especially glass) can add at least $50 for a set, and lights can be an additional $50-$100. Working with the more conservative numbers, this gives a balance of just over $300 for the tree alone.
A great way to spruce you home for Christmas is to have a go at making your own decorations, this can be great fun, and save money. Here are a few ways you can decorate your home for Christmas without breaking the bank, from making your own tree to getting the kids involved in the festivities.
Make at home
Crafting is a great way of fashioning unique decorations and getting the family together. You don’t have to be an expert to make some attractive ornaments, below are some easy and inexpensive ideas to get you started.
Baubles and tree décor doesn’t have to be store bought, and can be easily made with some pieces of fabric and a careful hand. Here are our top 3 examples of DIY Christmas baubles:
One for the kids: These egg box baubles (pictured above) from Brisbane Kids are cheap and simple to make with only a few household ingredients.
Estimated cost: Egg box- free, glitters and glues- $5.
A little glitz and glamour: The jazzy tree decorations pictured below are from startatsixty.com.au. They are so simple, but will add a real sparkle to any tree. Styrofoam shapes, glue, and accessories such as ribbons, sequins and beads are all that’s required.
Estimated cost: Craft.com.au stocks foam shapes ranging in price from 14 cents to $5.15 each – the smaller the shape the cheaper the price. The accessories can be purchased at around $2 for a packet, and will make many decorations.
Cute and family safe: The tree decorations pictured above are a little more complicated, but are still achievable for the average crafter. They have a wonderful, nostalgic feel to them, and making your own means you can match them to your colour theme. You can even download patterns from myfantasytoys if you’d like to be guided through the process.
Estimated cost: The main costs here come from the purchase of felt; different colours can be purchased in squares for about 1.20 each.
DIY Christmas tree
Making your own Christmas tree can seem like a big task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are two DIY trees that are a little different to the norm, while also being inexpensive and fun to make.
The on-trend tree
Stack wrapped boxes of decreasing sizes to form a triangular tree shape. Wrapping these in geometric paper and placing at different angles can give an eye-catching tree that is pet and child safe. For added fun, make one that contains presents – then the family can unwrap the tree on Christmas day!
Estimated cost: The main cost here comes from the wrapping paper choices if you don’t have any left over from last year. To keep costs down, try alternating between patterns and plain paper that range from $2 to $5 per roll. The best thing is what isn’t used can be used for present wrapping!
The ultimate space saver
If you’re short on space this tree could be the one for you. It can even be stored easily and used year after year. It does take a couple of hours to make, and depending on your desired result you may want to do this one on your own, or get the kids involved.
- Find a tree image you like using a Google search. Use the ‘search tools’ to select the desirable image size. This file works well and even features baubles you can use.
- If you’re not keen on the baubles above, you can find others easily online, or let the kids draw their own.
- Head to your local printer and have the tree and décor images printed to your desired size.
- The tree poster can be left with a white background, but the baubles will need cutting out. Grab some foam mounts and stick the decorations onto the tree to give it a 3D appearance.
- This section is optional, but what’s a Christmas tree without lights? Many stores stock small strings of lights, and by cutting small holes in the back of the tree poster and poking the fairy lights through you can light up your tree. Just be sure to leave the heavy battery pack near the bottom, and buy small, lightweight lights that can be secured in place with sticky tape.
- Finally, hang your tree poster! This tree not only saves space at Christmas, but rolls away ready for next year too.
Estimated cost: The main cost here is printing the tree image on large paper, an A1 sheet will cost $22 at Officeworks. Mini fairy lights are often only $2 for a set.
Christmas has its own smell, one of cinnamon and sugarplum. Recreating this smell doesn’t have to come in a can, you can easily make you home smell festive with easy DIY décor. Popcorn strings give a sweet toasted smell, and can be hung on the tree instead of tinsel.
To make popcorn strings:
- Cook a bag of popcorn as per the package instructions
- Dust with edible metallic glitter or icing sugar for a snowy look
- Wait for the popcorn to cool
- Thread the popcorn using a sharp needle until satisfied with length
- Tie off the thread
- Drape your popcorn strings over the tree.
Estimated cost: Popcorn costs around $2 a packet, and edible glitter comes in between $5 and $9.
Related: 25 home-made products that will save you $150
An oldie but a-goodie, the clove orange is an easy way to perfume the house, and as a bonus they last well past Christmas.
How to make clove oranges:
- An orange (or more if you’re really keen)
- A packet of cloves
- Some festive ribbon
An implement for piercing
To put it together:
- Tie the ribbon in place around the orange (if it slips you can pin it or use glue).
- In the exposed orange skin poke holes, enough so that the cloves can sit together nicely.
- Place the cloves in the holes you’ve made and hang the ball on your tree or on a hook.
Tip: Clove oranges keep for years if you let the orange dry out, and they hang better when dried as they are lighter.
Estimated cost: suitable oranges are around $3 per bag, with cloves being around $2 a packet. The ribbon could be purchased at approximately $3 per metre, so the costs depend on how many you want to make!
From the garden
Even if you live in an apartment, foraging in your local park is a good way of gathering free materials for decorating. If you do have a garden, making your own plant decorations and arrangements can save on costs and smell divine.
- Some eucalyptus leaves and gum nuts
- Metallic spray
- Some festive ties or ribbon.
Put them together:
- Spread your leaves and gum nuts and on the newspaper, somewhere outside away from the wind, pets, children and wildlife.
- Spray the leaves, gum nuts and branches on one side.
- Leave to dry – repeat with the other side.
- Arrange them into bunches using the festive ties and hang around the house or on your tree. You could also arrange them in a vase and wrap the vase in a big red bow.
Estimated cost: Metallic spray can be quite expensive, but more common colours like silver and gold will likely be cheaper, probably around $10 per tin.
Craft your way to a money saving Christmas
These projects will put your individual stamp on Christmas and can inspire new ideas for future seasons. From a $300 Christmas tree to spending less than $50 is a great saving, and you have the opportunity to get the creative juices going with the whole family.