‘Tis the season for savings: Unwrapping the secrets to a thrifty Christmas

Dec 08, 2023
By embracing the spirit of thriftiness, we can make the most of the festivities without sacrificing the magic. Source: Getty Images.

As Christmas Day fast approaches, the spirit of giving often comes hand in hand with the strain on our wallets. But fear not! There is a treasure trove of tips and tricks to help navigate the festive season without breaking the bank.

From making the most of sales to DIY decorations and budget-friendly gift ideas, let’s embark on a journey to make this Christmas both memorable and economical.

According to a recent Finder survey encompassing 1,061 Australians aged 18 and above, participants were asked about their expenditure plans across five key Christmas-related categories.

Australians are gearing up to spend a whopping $30 billion on all things Christmas this year, reflecting a remarkable 10 per cent surge compared to last year’s estimated expenditure of $27.3 billion.

The average Aussie is projected to allocate $1,479 for Christmas, covering presents, food, alcohol, dining out, and travel.

While many are embracing a festive splurge, a resilient 69 per cent of Australians are strategically trimming their expenses to maximise the festive cheer. More than a quarter (26 per cent) are planning savvy purchases during the Black Friday sales weekend to stretch their dollars, while 25 per cent are opting for an early start on buying food and gifts to keep spending in check.

Nearly one in five (18 per cent) plans to establish a gift-giving cap among loved ones, and 13 per cent are choosing a stay-at-home holiday to curb costs. In a bid to tackle year-end expenses head-on, 8 per cent have ventured into side hustles or taken on second jobs. Equally, 8 per cent will channel their creativity into crafting heartfelt gifts for their nearest and dearest this holiday season.

For those intrigued by the notion of crafting their own presents this year, there’s good news! Rhonda Hetzel, an esteemed author and blogger, is armed with practical tips and invaluable expertise that promise to not only save precious time but also make this festive season a budget-friendly delight.

Recognising the widespread appreciation for the thought and skill invested in homemade gifts, Hetzel generously shares a handful of ideas to aid in crafting presents without hefty price tags.

Her foremost advice? Make the most of what you already have on hand.


Choose things that grow well in pots, such as herbs, chillies or cucumbers. A bush cucumber called spacemaster grows well in pots and is a full-sized cucumber that is great for salads and pickles. A potted tomato seedling is also a good idea. The heirloom called tommy toe is consistently in the top three delicious tomatoes list. They’ll need to be transplanted to a large pot when they grow but – as a gift for Christmas – go for a seedling in a medium pot.

Also in the gardening line, you could give a one-litre Mason jar with a pack of seeds for sprouting.


Cellophane bags with a ribbon are a lovely way to present food gifts. Baked food such as fruit mince pies, muffin-size Christmas cake, spiced nuts, gingerbread figures and jars of pickles, chutney and tomato relish all make great gifts. Below is one of our reader’s favourite traditional Christmas gingerbread biscuit recipes.

Traditional Christmas gingerbread biscuits

Serve as either plain biscuits or shape them into little men, stars and/or Christmas trees and let the grandkids decorate them with you for something a bit more fun! Source: Getty Images


  • 150g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup (110g) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 cups (450g) plain flour
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • Icing and other decorations, if using


  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line 2 large oven trays with baking paper. Place butter, golden syrup and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Remove from heat. Add bicarbonate of soda and stir to combine. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl. Set aside to cool.
  2. Sift flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and baking powder over butter mixture. Add the egg and stir until combined. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until smooth. Divide dough into two portions. Shape each portion into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 45 minutes or until firm.
  3. Roll one portion between 2 sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick. Using 6-7cm Christmas cookie cutters, cut shapes from dough, re-rolling scraps. Place on the lined trays, 3cm apart to allow for spreading. Repeat with remaining gingerbread portion.
  4. Bake in preheated oven, 1 tray at a time, for 8 minutes or until just firm to touch. Remove from oven and set aside on trays for 5 minutes to cool before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Decorate however you choose, and serve.


Knitted organic-cotton dishcloths are appreciated by most. Paired with some homemade soap, or soap picked up at the health shop or local market, it becomes the perfect gift. People love getting something they can use. If you have a sewing machine and some fabric in the cupboard, you could also make napkins, reusable paper towels, table runners or aprons.


Play-dough is quick and easy to make for young children in your family. Simply search online for play-dough recipes. Library bags are also popular, as are small, drawstring bags for holding special Lego figures, treasures, and shells found on the beach. A small selection of chocolates or lollies in a jar is always a welcome gift for a child. Or why not buy tickets to a local cultural event, if you do feel like splashing some cash?

By embracing the spirit of thriftiness, we can make the most of the festivities without sacrificing the magic. Whether it’s through DIY decorations, budget-friendly gift exchanges, or creative wrapping, there are countless ways to save money and still have a holly, jolly Christmas!



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