Genuinely cheap versus not really cheap at all!

There’s a lot of talk at this time of year about saving money on making your own wrapping paper, tree decorations, gift labels, Christmas cards and so on.

If you have a creative streak it’s certainly great fun. Creating your own is even better fun if you have kids – it can keep them occupied for ages on nasty wintry weekends. But does it always cost less than hitting the high street?

The problem is, art craft materials aren’t particularly cheap. If you have existing stocks of creative materials at home, you’ll be fine. But if you need to start from scratch buying glitter glues, stick-on shapes, rubber stamps, inks, craft paints, coloured paper, ribbon and so on, you can easily spend a small fortune.

The only way to know for sure is do your sums before you start: how much do you need to spend on materials versus how much you’d spend just buying new stuff?

  • Art and craft papers are rarely cheap. Old newspapers are, but you need to exercise quite a lot of creativity to make newspaper wrapping paper look good instead of like something out of a jumble sale or infant school!
  • Pound shops can be a brilliant sources of art and craft materials but they’re often very poor quality
  • You can buy super-cheap wrapping paper and embellish it, but the cheapest stuff tears when you fold it and it’s fairly useless
  • If you have the materials handy, get out your old tree baubles and decorate them instead of buying new ones. Otherwise it might cost less to take the plunge and buy new
  • Paper chains are great fun, cheap as chips as long as you can source low cost coloured paper and use a tiny scrap of selotape to close each link. But sparkly pound shop chains can work out much cheaper
  • Cloth bunting is fun, especially when it’s made from scraps of shiny, sparkly and colourful fabrics – old clothes are perfect for cutting up but buying new fabric from the shops can be expensive, even when they’re offcuts
  • Want to make your own Xmas cards? You might find you spend so much time trying to track down cheap card that you might as well have bought ready- made cards
  • Spray lengths of garden twine silver or gold for a gorgeous effect… but is it really cheaper than shop-bought ribbon once you’ve paid for the string and bought cans of spray paint?