Silly season nearly here

Christmas is almost here and like many households we are busy getting jobs done before the silly season arrives and all sense and sensibility is abandoned completely.

This week we thought we should have a look at some of best Xmas tips received from previous years in the hope that they will inspire creative ways to take the cost out of Christmas but leave the fun.

  • A Wellington reader writes, "I have recently been trawling galas, garage sales and op shops for Christmas pressies for the kids. You can buy fantastic gifts at very reasonable prices. I have bought all my nieces and nephews puzzles and games of their favourite cartoon characters for 20c each and they are still in almost new condition. My nieces are also getting jewellery boxes that were less than 50c each and my son is getting a huge box of Lego we found for $5. Cannot believe how little we have spent so far and the fantastic toys and gifts the kids are getting this year. Have also saved some presents for Birthdays too!"
  • Don't forget about online deals, which will be aplenty this year. We know lots of you are already scanning around - and we are getting into the bargain offering spirit by selling our number game "Zenith", on Trademe ... with a $1 reserve! There are certainly some bargains to be had online.
  • Check out the number of credits you have on your reward cards. Redeem your points for products or vouchers and use them as gifts. This is a great way to save cash and for some it's like being a member of a Christmas Club. The beauty is whoever receives a voucher can use it in the Boxing Day sales and make it go even further than it did the day before!
  • M.G. from Hastings says, "Our wider family got together and decided to limit Christmas gifts to a few dollars per person. That way nobody is too disappointed when they don't get anything flash. So what can you give for a few dollars:

°          Photos with a message printed across them, from digital machines.

°          Photo frame, bought or home made.

°          Plants grown from seed or cuttings.

°          Home made biscuits, cakes, drinks, etc

°          Personalised pens made by printing names (or something more imaginative), on stickers in a small font. Also make a pen holder to go with them.

°          Glue give away fridge magnets to the back of a small notepad, maybe attach a photo or calendar to the top to personalise it. You now have a handy shopping list to keep on the fridge.

°          A family favourite is chocolate. Look for a mould that has about a dozen deep individual shapes. Slowly melt chocolate in the microwave to coat the sides of the shapes. When they have set fill with a cold gnache, made by heating 100mls of cream and dissolving 100grms of chocolate into it. This can then be flavoured with peanut butter, liqueurs or honey.

°          Kids love to get a plastic glass full of lollies or lolly kebabs."

  • Have a "make or bake Christmas" - only exchange gifts that have been made or baked by the giver. Start making now - pottery, a painting, a calendar featuring family photos, or print a photo annual (the best photos for 2012 for example), make a family recipe book featuring each person's favourite recipes, or record your favourite children's book digitally and send to others to enjoy the story and your narration.
  • Have a kids-only Christmas. One reader says this year the extended family have agreed to only give presents to kids. They got tired of having the pressure of buying stuff for their adult family members, and things have been a bit tight this year, so they are looking at ways to make the fewer dollars in their pocket go further.

Do you have a favourite money-saving Christmas tip that you would like to share with others? If so, please send it to us at or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

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