My Frugal (But Hopefully Tasteful) Christmas Decorations

My endeavour to have a frugal but tasteful, beautiful and meaningful Christmas has not been without its ups and downs.  Creativity costs time and I have learned some lessons about planning well in advance.  My living-room is finally decorated for Christmas and thanks to Michelle from Home For Now I have made some delicious Mini Pecan Pie Tarts to give as gifts. This costs me less time than the various assorted Christmas cookies I usually make!  So thanks Michelle!

Do you remember my Autumn inspired coffee table décor? Well, here is my now Christmas inspired décor:

Christma coffee table

The frugal thing I did was to buy some cheap plain white wallpaper and a holly stencil and then stencil and draw using coloured pencils and Pantone markers which I already had. I also re-used my pot-pourri from last year but bought some orange and cinnamon oil to refresh the scent.

I wanted my décor to reflect simplicity and the real meaning of Christmas so instead of my usual nutcracker and Victorian doll and woodland fairy and glitzy ornaments on the tree, I opted for less ornaments than usual and chose to pick ornaments that either were hand-made or looked hand-made or reflected nature or stuffed toys but then allowed my two teens who wanted to help choose some family favourites to put on the tree.  I also added some burlap ribbon and some felt stars which I picked up for only 70p each in a sale.

Christmas tree

Christmas ornaments


Many years ago, my mother made me a ceramic nativity set.  Somehow or another I left it behind in New York before I moved to England.  I managed to retrieve it last spring when I went to NY and brought it home in my luggage.

ceramic nativity

In keeping with the nature theme, I bought a wicker basket and added some Christmas tree branches which I got for free from our local garden center.  Then I added some scented pine cones which I had saved from last year but also refreshed with cinnamon oil and finally, I added some battery powered Christmas lights.  This sits now to the side of our fireplace.

pinecone basket

If you know anything about me, you  know I love books.  I have a small collection of Christmas-y books which I piled up by the fireplace (Don’t worry,  I know to move it if I put on the fire!) and placed my hare statue on top.  Some of my favourites are missing.  Jostein Gaarder’s The Christmas Miracle (because it’s a paperback) and Madeline L’Engle’s Miracle On 10th Street And Other Christmas Writings (because I am reading it now).

christmas books


Every year, I put up this swag of Christmas garland over the door frames in my house.






So there you have it!  My frugal Christmas decorations this year!

Joyous Noel!


The Art Of Gifting Meaningfully (And Frugally)

If you have read my previous posts you will know that I have given myself the challenge of doing Christmas frugally but with a celebratory perspective.  We celebrate Christmas in recognition of the birth of Christ so we should celebrate it without giving ourselves any cause to grumble. In my last post I listed my Top Ten Ways To Save Money On Christmas Presents.  In this post I want to focus on DIY gifts that are meaningful.  Because although we are trying to save money on gifts, I want to make up for that by gifting in a way that shows we really love the person.  There are many websites as well as pins on Pinterest that show DIY gifts that are more for the acquaintance.  However, if you are wanting to give a DIY gift to a close relative or friend, a jar of home-made cocoa may not be the kind of gift you want to give.  Okay, I will say that meaningfully DIY gifts will cost you some time.  So some of the ideas I list may have to be postponed till next year.

My husband is THE KING of DIY gifting.  One year, he spent ages making my son Brandon this board game.  Brandon has always loved everything to do with cars.

frugal christmas gifts

There are a lot of creative and humorous aspects to this game.

DIY board game


Frugal Christmas


DIY gifts

Frugal christmas gifts

Another year, he made a Magic Genie poster for my son where you ask the genie a question and turn a dial and receive your amazing answer.  He has also written my daughters personal and meaningful short stories and more wonderfully, he has written me books where the main character’s name is an anagram of mine.

frugal christmas gifts 2


frugal gifts 3


My children have also taken part in DIY gifts to each other making home-made bath bombs, jewellery and drawings.  I tend to do things with photos.  I made a scrapbook for my husband of a trip to Scotland we took and another one of his children’s photos.  I have also made photo-books using on-line companies where I created the book on my computer and had them put it together in a binded book.

photo book




You can get more creative by making the photo-book into story books for young children using your own photos or pictures of your artwork.  You can even have photo books with hilarious or meaningful themes such as 10 Things I Love About You (perhaps ending it with a marriage proposal) or a movie theme using images from movies where you edit it and merge it with your own photos using a photo editing tool.  Just use your imagination!

Speaking of which I found this amazing company called Image 3D that will put your photos onto a viewmaster type disk.  I LOVE this idea.  It is perfect for anyone who is into retro stuff.


Another idea you can do (which my daughter did for my husband) is to write them a song.  You can choose to record this on video or sing it for them in person.

Once I put real personal meaning into a home-made Christmas tree ornament.  I used an oval plaque of wood and layered images using my printer, a rubber stamp and a cut out picture from a sheet of Christmas tissue paper.  I edged it with a braid and added a bow and some fabric rosettes.

Many years ago, I made Floral wreaths similar to the one below using a mixture of dried and silk flowers for both my grandmothers.


If you can knit or crochet or sew, you can make beautiful blankets, quilts, scarves, throws, cushions or anything you can think of.  If you’re a creative baker, you can make home-made breads or cookies to give as a gift.  I sometimes like to put together a Christmas hamper or basket full of a mixture of home baked gifts or themed items such as a movie night box or a bottle of wine with some wine glasses and cheeses.  Shops charge a lot for these so why not create your own with quality items and personal touches? I may just use the below idea for a gift for someone. Shhh!


So DIY does not mean corny, chintzy or cheap-looking.  Make it meaningful, make it with a spirit of love and joy.


Top Ten Ways To Save Money on Christmas Gifts

Christmas Shopping


There are times when the whole idea of buying Christmas gifts can seem like a requirement. We give gifts to our family, gifts to our friends, gifts to our neighbours and sometimes even gifts to work colleagues. We may not always have a lot of money to spend and if we have a lot to buy for, all this shopping for gifts can put a strain on our finances.  It is completely forgiveable for anyone to feel stressed or grumpy about it.  However, there are many ways we can save money on gifts.

  1. You can agree with your family that this year, everyone will only buy for the children.
  2. You can have what is commonly known as ‘Kris Kringle’ or ‘Secret Santa’.  Put all the family members or work colleagues name in a hat and everyone picks one name to buy a gift for.
  3. Use your loyalty cards!  Throughout the year, use your loyalty cards to rack up points so you can save money on gifts.  Here in the UK, Boots or Sainsbury’s are good ones to have.  They sell great gift sets come Christmas at 3 for 2.  Last year, I was able to get a few gifts for free with the points I earned.
  4. Sign up for e-vouchers and check your email every day for bargains.  You can even sign up to receive emails from your local Theatre.  I got tickets one year for only £10 a piece.
  5. You can make gifts.  Now, I know this may be a bit stressful but if you like crafting, a few DIY gifts will save you some money.  If you think you are not creative enough or have enough time, think again and stay tuned for a future post on great DIY gifts!
  6. Offer to give a gift of service.  Who wouldn’t want the promise of having snow shovelled in front of their house for a week or  free babysitting?
  7. Change the tradition.  Invite people over after Christmas and take advantage of after Christmas sales for their gifts.  Or give the kids stocking stuffers on Christmas day and bigger presents on Epiphany or Three Kings day or Orthodox Christmas.
  8. Shop at pound or dollar shops…it’s not as crazy as you think!  I bought a beautiful glass jar and a child’s apron each for 99p at the 99p shop.   I plan to decorate and fill the jar with cookie mix and give to a little girl of a friend of mine along with the apron so she can have fun baking cookies with her mum or dad.
  9. Make your own Christmas hamper (or basket).  Find an inexpensive basket or decorate a box and fill it with either home-made goodies or inexpensive (but tasty) items from your local supermarket.  You can even make it a theme, such as body potions and lotions, movie night, chocoholic, comfort box for ‘rainy’ days…whatever you can think of.
  10. Buy couple gifts whenever possible.  If you have a couple to buy for buy them a joint gift such as something for the house or cinema tickets or a shopping voucher.

To keep yourself stress-free, plan ahead of time and keep a journal with all the names of people you are buying for.  I like to keep the journal for a few years so that every Christmas I can look up what I bought so they don’t get the same sort of gift two years running.  It is also so important to try and have a positive perspective on things.  The giving of Christmas gifts can be seen as representative of God’s greatest gift to mankind-His son Jesus.  We in turn give gifts to those we love.  It is a beautiful way of showing others how much we care.


Celebrating A Frugal Christmas

Frugal Christmas

Throughout the years whenever Christmas begins to rear its peppermint-y head, I seem to always hear the same negative comments about the holiday. It is either exhausting, stressful or expensive. Yet for the majority of us, we still look forward to it.  It is the time of year when our senses are wonderfully rewarded with the scents of orange, spice and pine, the sounds of Yuletide carols and laughter and the sights of twinkling lights, festive decorations and smiling children. Truth be told, it is my favourite time of year.  However, there have been a few Christmases in years past that have left me feeling shattered and put a strain on my finances.  The last few years I have managed to come up with ways not to over-exhaust myself by being highly organized, shopping online and even ordering Christmas dinner from Marks and Sparks. This year I decided to make an additional change. I have made a firm decision to have a frugal Christmas.

Just to explain….frugality does not mean cheap.  I learned that many years ago from The Frugal Gourmet- Jeff Smith.  Frugality is making the most of the money you have.  My decision is to spend less this year but to celebrate Christmas beautifully, simply and meaningfully.  Unbeknownst yet to my children, I have also decided not to put up all our glitzy, elegant, sophisticated Christmas decorations that I have collected over the years.  (If you want to see pictures of those then please see last years Christmas posts).  I am sorry to say, I have only just last Sunday decided all this so I am still working out all the details.  Hopefully, there will be many up-coming posts on ideas I have collected and implemented for this years simple, beautiful Christmas as well as posts on the spiritual virtues of Christmas.

Here’s the first one.


I love this idea for either a front porch or in front of the hearth.  Simple, beautiful and hardly costs anything!