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I Wish I Knew These Low-cost Christmas Tricks Earlier

I Wish I Knew These Low-cost Christmas Tricks Earlier

Ho, ho, ho—the jolly holiday season is upon us! Christmas is slowly nearing and everyone is getting excited about the biggest holiday of the year. Now, we’ve become a very consumer-oriented culture, one where everyone is expected to spend tons of money on everything from gifts and decorations, to Christmas cards and even specific types of candy, but not everyone can afford to spend lots of their hard-earned money. We all want to enjoy the holidays, prepare cool gifts for our family and bring about some of that Christmas spirit—it’s just that a lot of us need a more cost-effective way of doing these things. Well, being that it is the season of giving and sharing, let me share with you some great tricks for having the perfect Christmas experience on a very tight budget.

1. Have everyone help out with the cleaning and decorating.

Christmas decoration

    The best way to create a fun holiday atmosphere is to get the whole family involved in the preparation. Get the kids and parents involved, and if you’re living the single life and spending Christmas away from home you can have friends over to help you decorate. It is a fun bonding experience and it helps make things easier. Serve some snacks, cookies and drinks for the hard-working helpers and play some fun games when the work is done.

    1. Organize a fun photo session.

    In this day and age you don’t even really need a professional photographer to capture great family moments—everyone has a camera on their phone, and there’s at least one decent digital camera in most households. There are plenty of benefits to having regular family photo sessions about once a year around the holidays, and you can have tons of fun dressing up and snapping creative photos. You can later pick out the best ones, print them out and create some cheap, yet cool-looking decorations. There’s plenty of room for some creative photo editing and DIY frames, which will make the photos really stand out.

    2. Get creative with homemade Christmas cards and envelopes.

    You can get an assortment of different color envelopes and blank cards, or even just get plain white ones and spice them up yourself. You can color them, use markers, glue on small items like Christmas tree branches or colorful fabrics and ribbons, use snowflake cutouts, apply glitter, use buttons or pictures, and so on.

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    Make tree ornaments and decorations from everyday objects.

    pinecones

      When it comes to Christmas decorations, you can make some incredibly interesting things from simple everyday objects. All it takes is a few basic items, some creativity and a bit of work.

      1. Old t-shirt wreath

      Finally, there’s a use for those old shirts, t-shirts and assorted rags—cut them up into strips and you can braid a colorful wreath.

      2. Toilet paper roll crafts

      From calendars to figurines and lovely stars for your Christmas tree, with a bunch of toilet paper rolls and a few other materials you have lying around, you can create a variety of amazing crafts virtually for free.

      3. Unique homemade candle holders

      Some candlelight really helps set the mood during that holiest of nights, and what better way to enhance the atmosphere than with some great candle holders that are cheap and fairly easy to make.

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      4. Pinecone decorations

      You can color them green and set them upside down to create a mini-Christmas tree ornament, use them as window dressing, create wreaths out of them, and much more.

      5. DIY snow globe

      This will require a bit more skill and dedication, but it definitely pays off, as these can be used as either ornaments or cool gifts.

      Cheap and fun Christmas snacks

      Next up, you want to make sure that there are plenty of snacks around Christmas, so that everyone can enjoy themselves and have a nibble every now and then. Here are a few great snacks that won’t cost much to prepare:

      1. Healthy and delicious cereal

      You can combine some corn flakes, oats, dehydrated fruit, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and mix it all up in mason jars to get a very healthy instant breakfast cereal. Add a little bow and a card with the name of each family member and friend and give them out as a surprise when people come over. You can even make this a part of a nice holiday gift basket.

      2. Gingerbread house with all sorts of sweets

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      Gingerbread house

        Making a gingerbread house can be a very fun family activity, as well as a beautiful decoration and, of course, a tasty treat. You can choose from plenty of great templates and create your ultimate gingerbread house. Go wild with the decorations, adding candy canes, M&M’s and all kinds of different sweets.

        3. Personalized homemade chocolate bars

        Get some tasty chocolate, I would recommend dark chocolate, melt it in a pot, and add some additional ingredients like chopped nuts, cherries or raisins. Pour the mix into a mold that you can get for cheap online, and use aluminum foil and decorative paper to wrap up the chocolate. Use a strip of craft paper to write the name of your special chocolate and list the ingredients.

        4. Great DIY gifts

        So, we’ve covered some fun holiday activities, cool decorations and great snacks, some of which can make excellent gifts, but let’s look at a few more unique DIY gift ideas that your friends and family will appreciate:

        5. Knitted or felt smartphone/tablet case

        If you have some knitting skills you can sit down and make several fun and practical cases for smartphones or tablets, which will make excellent gifts for virtually anyone you know. Here are some patterns you can use. You can also make adorable felt covers which you can customize with some felt flowers and similar decorations.

        6. Recipe binder and book of memories combo

        Every family has that mom or granny who know hundreds of delicious recipes and gives the food her own personal touch. Sit them down and have them tell you these coveted family recipes, so you can write them down. You can have one page of your recipe binder feature the recipe, while the page next to it can have a comment or picture that brings everyone back to a special moment—like a picture of a young grandma presenting her first Christmas dinner or your little brother with his face smeared in chocolate from mom’s cake. Make sure to make a lovely cover for the book as well.

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        7. Fun Christmas-themed pillows

        Christmas pillow

          Another one that requires some skill, a set of unique pillows can be made with a very small investment – mostly time and effort. There are plenty of things you can sew in—like snowmen, Christmas trees, reindeer, write out names or messages and so on. Even if you can’t really sew, you can still make some nice decorative pillows using Sharpies and a steady hand.

          8. Stuffed toys

          When you have smaller kids, a stuffed toy is always a safe bet—they also make lovely gifts for your significant other, and the fact that they were made by hand only adds emotional value. You can find a few good ideas online to spark your imagination, but don’t be afraid to experiment—even if it takes a few tries to get right, you’ll work will pay off when you see someone’s face light up as they hold the toy in their hands.

          9. DIY pet toys

          doggy toy

            An excellent choice for people with pets are some creative pet toys and treats for dog owners or a nice scratch post for cat owners. You won’t have to spend much money, but you will still be able to make some durable and clever items that pet owners will really appreciate.

            10. Special Moment Wall Clock

            A simple board and a picture of a very special moment, with a meaningful inscription, and a basic clockwork mechanism is all that you will need for this heartfelt gift. Here is a useful guide on how to print out images on tissue paper that you will use on your decoupage clock.

            With Christmas just around the corner, it’s never too late to start preparing, decorating and crafting gifts for your friends and family. I wish I had known some of these great low-cost tricks much earlier—I could have saved quite a bit of money, while at the same time making much more personal and meaningful gifts and decorations.

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            Ivan Dimitrijevic

            Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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            Last Updated on June 26, 2020

            25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

            25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

            “How to save money fast?” This is the question asked by all of us not in the top 1% of rich people.

            If you are looking for ways to drastically reduce your expenses immediately, first look at what you need to spend money on every week. And I mean really need.

            You don’t really need to order in food. You don’t really need to buy expensive perfume.

            Building from that, you can work out how your regular expenses can be reduced.

            As for irregular expenses, they can also be deceptively costly in the long run. Once-off buys can also be tackled with some prudent planning and a little extra research.

            And remember: a budgeted lifestyle does not mean a bad or boring one!

            But first, understand what budget you can cut down on daily:

            • Regular expenses for the average adult (can be trimmed but not eliminated):
              • food
              • rent/mortgage
              • cell phone
              • insurance
              • socializing/entertainment
              • transportation
              • hygiene products
              • household bills
            • Irregular expenses for the average adult (can be eliminated or cut down a lot):
              • travel
              • clothing
              • medication (*depends)
              • grooming (hair, nails etc.)
              • gifts

            Now, let’s dive right into the 25 ways to save money fast:

            Save Money on Food

            1. Bring a stock of food to the office/work

            Instead of popping out for an overpriced salad and a smoothie, leave a set of basic utensils at the office as well as a stock of non-perishable goods such as tinned fruit, tuna, rice crackers and so on (try to avoid the junk food and this can turn into a pretty great diet!).

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            Stocking up means you won’t forget or say “I didn’t have the time” when you rushed out to work in the morning.

            2. Buy the store-brand version

            Many basic foods, such as bread and milk, will taste exactly the same as their branded alternatives. Go for stuff with minimal additives and preservatives. Meat in a tube is probably insanely unhealthy!

            3. Eat cheaper cuts of meat

            Learn how to tenderize and flavour cheaper meat and fish, and save on the (typically) most expensive item on your grocery bill.

            4. Have group dinners

            If 10 friends put $5 each in the kitty, it’s pretty easy to make a giant lasagne and get refreshments, as well as hang out with your favourite people.

            Save Money in Transport

            5. Get a bicycle

            Save on gas money and bus/metro fares with this underrated mode of transport.

            6. Use public transport and/or don’t get taxis

            Some places can only be reached by car. But as a good practise, check your public transport website and see if any routes pass nearby where you need to get to. Walk as much as you can.

            7. Find the cheapest gas

            Regularly check out where the cheapest gas can be bought.

            Save Money in General Shopping

            8. Shop online

            Not only will you save on the gas or transport fares from going to the shopping mall but you will also find better deals

            9. Sell your old stuff

            Get your unwanted belongings up on eBay ASAP and earn a few dollars.

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            Here’re more ideas for you: 25 Things to Sell to Make a Lot of Money

            10. Bulk buying stores

            For regular non-perishable/slow perishable purchases such as toilet paper, cat food, pasta, washing powder and so on, do an epic stocking-up trip to a co-op or equivalent (my mum used to go to a place that restaurants buy from).

            Be wary of supermarket “deals”, as some have been found to be fraudulent after working out a simple calculation.

            11. Become a flea market/car boot sale/street market guru

            You can find original gifts and develop good negotiation skills at these places.

            12. Generic brand medication

            More often than not, the generic version of paracetamol and other basics work the same as the branded version.

            13. Choose deodorant, not perfume

            It blows my mind when someone drops $70 on a bottle of spray. Stick with a nice deodorant, and not only will you smell just fine but you’ll be sweat-free as well!

            Cut Down on Household Expenses

            14. Printing

            Ink is one of the most expensive substances in the office and coloured ink is doubly so. B

            e more efficient and choose black and white, and if your printer doesn’t have a print-both-sides options, just print odd pages first, re-insert the paper and print even pages.

            Expand the margins of what you are printing as often as you can to save on paper.

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            15. Minimize SMS and phone calls

            A combination of a free chat service such as WhatsApp and a free call service such as Skype can reduce your bill to nothing (so long as you have a decent Wifi connection).

            16. Shop around for insurance

            Most people don’t spend enough time searching for the best insurance deal.

            Keep a watchful eye out for deals and new competitors in the market.

            17. Try re-negotiating your rent/mortgage

            If you have built up a good credit history or a good rapport with your landlord, then chances are a frank chat about needing to tighten your spending could result in lowering your payments. You’ve nothing to lose from trying.

            18. Don’t get a TV

            Invest in a computer/laptop and an internet-only package. You can watch more (and often better) entertainment on the web, and skip the advertisements as well.

            19. Pool your internet bill with a neighbour

            My apartment building is basically a big old house split into three apartments. There are five of us in total. We pool the internet bill, making it crazy cheap.

            Save Money in Socializing, Entertainment And Travel

            20. Have house parties

            Instead of paying for overpriced drinks, set up a series of in-house get-togethers with your friends. Everyone takes a turn, so it’s not always your house that needs cleaning.

            For sound insulation, hang heavy drapes on the walls and windows. For music, invest in a good second-hand set of speakers which you can connect to your computer. Let Spotify or Grooveshark playlists do the rest.

            21. Open festivals, meetups and events

            It never fails to surprise me how much underground stuff goes on around me for free or for very cheap. Find out who runs the blogs and websites that list all the less well-known cultural activities.

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            22. Volunteer

            If you can’t pay for a ticket, volunteer and get to be there anyway.

            23. Housesit

            There are multiple housesitting websites offering you the possibility to avoid paying hotels and skip the discomfort of crummy hostels.

            Save Money on Hygiene and Beauty

            24. DIY beauty

            French manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyebrows… pretty much all of these can be achieved at home (and done well) with some practise. There are plenty excellent blogs and YouTube tutorials to help.

            25. Fewer haircuts/volunteer at a trainee hairdresser

            If you can’t bear the risk of a trainee touching your locks, learn more ways to manipulate your hair as it grows and get haircuts sparingly. Women’s haircuts are outrageously priced in many cities.

            Bonus: Effective Money-Saving Tips for Everything

            Here’s a summary of what you can generally do to save more money:

            • Share/pool resources. Organize a neighbourhood sharing scheme, common resources for your apartment block or with your friends. Not everybody needs an individual lawnmower.
            • Buy energy-saving everything. The easiest way to lower your bills – replace those lightbulbs!
            • Buy in bulk. Be sensible about it (i.e. make sure you have space!), and drastically reduce weekly expenditure.
            • DIY. Skill up using YouTube tutorials on plumbing and many other essential services so you never have to pay for simple problems again.
            • Research a lot before making a decision. Most money-wasting is the result of poor preparation and planning. Don’t shirk this part just because you don’t like it!
            • Use your network. Your network is full of resources that can ease the pain of budgeting. Ask for help.
            • Stop and think. Do I really need it?

            Unfortunately, there are some things that require plain ol’ giving up for the time being. This can include high-cost sports such as skiing, the latest versions of some technologies, the finest brands of food/drinks, premier seats at the opera and most other indulgences.

            What is important to remember during lean times is that when you look back on your life, it will be the experiences that stand out, not the extra comforts.

            Living on a budget can teach you a lot about how much you can really get out of your paycheck. We only live one life, so make the most of every penny you earn!

            More Tips for Personal Finance Management

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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