Thrifty Christmas: 5 ways to make it stylish for less


Handmade present boxes with tags on red napkins

You don't need to spend a fortune to make Christmas magical. With our money-saving ideas and clever creative makes no one will guess you did it on a budget!

Christmas tree decorations
Have you dug out last year's decorations to find them looking a bit tired? Spray paint them white or silver for a stunning theme. You can pick up a can of spray paint from Halfords for £6.49. Don't stop there. Spray paint ferns gathered from the garden or group some twigs in a vase and drape with fairy lights. For added glamour, spray paint apples and pears gold for an expensive-looking centrepiece. Pennies painted gold look great scattered across the table.

Make it personal
Planning a big family Christmas? For a personalised touch, decorate the tree with Polaroid pics of the family. Dig out snaps of you as kids and old wedding photos for a nostalgic talking point. Polaroid cameras are expensive, but with the free Poladroid app ( you can give any photo the Polaroid look. Print out to the standard 6in x 4in size, trim, and attach to the tree using old-fashioned clothes pegs, £3.99 for 24 from Homebase.

Make your own gifts
Herb-infused oils are easy to make and when presented in tall glass jars make a sophisticated gift. You'll need olive oil (standard is fine, there's no need for expensive extra virgin), a few herbs from the garden, such as rosemary or tarragon, and a pretty bottle, which you can pick up for a couple of pounds, try these from Homebase. Wash and bruise the herbs, then add to warmed oil. Pour in to a sterilised bottle and add the oil and herbs. Finish with a pretty red ribbon and tie on a hand written gift tag.

Wrapping paper
A beautifully wrapped gift is so much more exciting. Instead of shop-bought paper, go for a handmade, vintage look. Brown parcel paper tied with pretty ribbon (or even twine) looks amazing when finished with a bauble and a few sprigs of holly from the garden. Add colour by creating a decoupage of cut-up magazine images or personalise it by printing a coloured map of where the recipient was born and incorporate it into the design. Go to Google maps and click on satellite image and you may even pick up their house!

Bag it beautifully
Gift bags can be especially pricey. Buy brown paper bags, £7.25 for 10 from eBay, and customise by gluing on ribbon and a spray of fern and a mini bauble. Glue a large button or wooden toggle on either side of the bag and close using thin ribbon or twine.

See our videos for more great creative Christmas ideas...
5 Festive Christmas and Holiday Craft Projects