2 smart ways to spend less on holiday gifts

Although it does not feel right to be miserly during the festive season, you don't have to spend lots of money to check everything off your gift list. Here are two easy ways that you can save money and cut that holiday bill down.

2 smart ways to spend less on holiday gifts

1. Create christmas cards for less

Individual holiday greeting cards sell for as little as $1 a card, but premium brand cards can go as high as $6 each. Collections of 10 to 18 greeting cards average $8 to $20 per box. Whether your Christmas card greeting list is big or small, you can share seasonal cheer for much less.

  • Shop after Christmas: Cards are reduced by up to 70% from Boxing Day till the new year, so shop for next year's cards then and tuck them away until you need them.
  • Use your charity cards: Many charities send out packets of cards around Christmas, hoping to prompt a donation. Make use of them. Even a modest charitable donation will be welcomed by most of these organizations and you'll feel good about doing it.
  • Create cards for free: Some of the cards you receive are just too beautiful to throw away. Using last year's cards, cut off designs and motifs, and glue them onto card blanks either as a central feature or a pattern. Embellish the cards with glitter or embossed lettering. Or make gift tags by cutting the central motifs from cards, punching a hole at one edge and tying on a ribbon.
  • Transform old cards for decorations: For attractive paper garlands, cut the front of old cards into strips and make interlocking chains to hang on a tree, edge a mantelpiece or brighten a staircase. For unique napkin rings, cut five centimetre (two inch) strips from the cards, form them into a circle and glue or staple the ends together.
  • Email greetings: The cost of postage continues to rise and can really add up if you send out a lot of cards. Why not bypass the postal service altogether and create cards on your computer to send by email?

2. Save on gifts and wrapping

Smart Christmas shopping means buying presents you think a person will like when you spot them, and when the price is right.

  • Look for gifts throughout the year: Holiday trips, craft and country fairs, gift shops at museums and botanical gardens, auctions and flea markets are all excellent sources of one-of-a-kind presents. Earmark a drawer or the back of a closet as designated gift storage. Then, when Christmas — or birthdays and other special occasions — approaches, you can reach in and produce the ideal present for anyone on your list.
  • Making memories: For a unique Christmas present — as well as for a milestone birthday, wedding anniversary, graduation or retirement — make a scrapbook or collage. Use photographs, decorative papers and other memorabilia. Ask friends, family members and colleagues to contribute a written memory of an event or conversation shared with the recipient to include in the present. Or make a personalized calendar featuring 12 photographs that show a special moment in the person's life. The recipient can then enjoy your gift all year long.
  • Personalized gift wrap: With wrapping paper costing $1 a sheet or more, decorating your own gift wrap is a rewarding project, as well as a creative way to add a personal touch to a present. Using thin brown parcel paper or another type of paper with the equivalent thickness, paint with acrylic paint and sponge, potato print, stencil, fingerpaint or draw designs to create one-of-a-kind wrapping paper. Fabric also makes an excellent wrap, especially for awkward shapes, and can be bought inexpensively in fabric store sales, end of lines or remnant bins. Tie with satin ribbons.

By stretching your gift budget in these creative ways, you can enjoy the holiday season without stressing over bills.

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