For many Brits, Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without a tree, but when money's tight, that Douglas fir you've had your eye on just might prove a few quid too far. Not to worry - here are our tips on how to save money, but still have somewhere festive to put all those pressies.
...at least when it comes to real trees. Though the type of tree you buy will affect the cost, most sellers will price according to height. The bigger you go, the more you're going to pay, so don't rush out and buy something that would look fitting in Trafalgar Square. Find the perfect spot in your home and measure up, not forgetting the need for a stand or container for your tree. And don't necessarily go for a tree that's going to fill the space. If it reaches the ceiling, it'll probably take up quite a lot of space width-wise too, so unless you're home is palatial, it's best to opt for smaller than you first think, which will save you pennies straight away.
For those who have limited space, don't dismiss small or tabletop trees, which are available from DIY superstores, and cost as little as £10 for a real tree.
Christmas trees will be reduced in price the closer you get to Christmas, so wait until the week before if you can. If you only have a small space, consider putting some cut off branches (retailers may even give you these for free) into a large vase and string fairy lights up behind it.
Save with an artificial tree
Once frowned upon by many, it is now possible to buy artificial trees that are pretty close to the real thing. To buy the best, you are likely to pay a highish price, but the advantage of an artificial tree is the long-term savings. Though initially more expensive than the real alternative, a good quality artificial tree can be used for years to come, plus there are no needles to clear up, nor the need to dispose of the skeletal leftovers in the New Year.
Of course here, again, you can opt for very reasonably priced small or table-top trees... but one thing to be careful of is buying a coloured or colour-changing fibre optic tree. What seems like a good idea this year might not in years to come, and that means losing those long-term cost savings.
Create your own
Alternative Christmas trees have been steadily growing in popularity in recent years, with everything from driftwood to cardboard being used to create a long-lasting festive centrepiece. They don't always come cheap, however, so if you're on a budget, let your creativity loose and make your own.
For instance, if you've a house full of books, you can simply stack hardbacks into the shape of a tree and add ribbon and fairy lights as decoration, and you can go as big or as small as your library will allow. Another idea is to use wall space to create your tree. Ornaments, knick-knacks from around the home, Christmas cards, or even child-friendly wall stickers can be used for a festive design. All you need do is mark out the shape of your perfect tree and fill in the gaps.
Let your imagination run wild and use what you've got around the house, and you'll get a fresh, new design every year, at a bargain basement price.
Are you aiming to cut the cost of your Christmas tree this year? What route will you take? Leave your comments below...