Croydon Christmas on a budget


By - Tuesday 20th December, 2016

How to have a creative, cost-conscious Christmas


Season’s greetings to all! Yep, it’s that time of year again. The lights are up, Christmas songs are playing everywhere you go and people in their hordes are flocking to the shops in search of Christmas presents to place beneath the tree. If you’re anything like me you have a list, whether it is on a paper or just a mental note, of all the people who you need to shop for. And like Willy Wonka’s gobstoppers, that list can be everlasting. It can get very much out of control… especially in terms of having to finance it all.

You don’t want to be mean-spirited, because it’s Christmas. But affording lots of presents just isn’t realistic for many people (and that’s truer today than it’s ever been). The pressure to spend is stressful and ruins what should be a happy holiday season.

But I’ve found that there’s another way. In recent years, I’ve become more creative with the gift giving. I’ve managed to personalise gifts and still have something in the bank account other than tumbleweeds. Because as the cost of living in London rises and rises, Croydon’s still a great place for a creative, cost-conscious Christmas.

Glass jars offer a lovely chance for presentation with ribbons tied around

We benefit from having shops aplenty, and I managed to pick up pretty much everything from the pound shops. Oh yes, the pound shops! Here’s why they’re so great. Last year I did hampers and Christmas stockings: stockings were for the little ones as it was a good way for me to not wrap a gift and they have a stocking they can use the following year, so it’s win win! This year, I decided to something a wee bit different. I opted for Christmas tins, jar and boxes filled with goodies.

My last pound shop trip to the Whitgift Centre went like this: seven Christmas tins (for children), five glass jars (for adults) and a couple of dozen packs of varied sweets and chocolates. The total cost was just under £30, making the average cost per present around £2.50.

Tins are best for children as they are cute and the fact that you can’t see into them is almost like wrapping in itself. The jars, on the other hand, offer the opportunity for delightful presentation with minimum time and effort at this often pressurised time of year. Once I got home,I gave the jars and tins a wash in some soapy water and dried them. I ripped open the packets of confectionery and shared the contents among the tins, distributing as much as I liked. But here is where you can personalise. The tins don’t have to be filled with sweets. You can fill them with crayons, sheets of stickers rolled up with other knick knacks. Oh, and don’t forget the gold chocolate coins.

You’ll be surprised how many handmade gifts you can give at a very low cost

Then there’s ‘spa in a jar:’ instead of sweets, why not fill the jars with cotton wool balls, nail varnish and nail files and wrapped chocolates (try a small box of Lindt’s Lindor truffles and divide the contents)? Depending on the size of the jar, you can go wild with what you put in it: lotions, miniature bottles of beauty products, nail varnish… head for Boots in the Whitgift shopping centre, which has a section for products to take on holiday containing lots of tiny travel version of beauty products, pick up a few and share them out. Everyone gets a little something nice and you’ll be surprised how many homemade gifts you can make at a very low cost. I didn’t even need to wrap them: they looked pretty enough with a bit of ribbon tied around.

The other good thing is that jars and tins can be used for something else after the present has been long eaten or used. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. So if you’re stumped for ideas, I hope that I’ve given you a few. I wish you all very happy holidays.

Marcia Henry-Morgan

Marcia Henry-Morgan

I am a marketeer by profession, originally from the East Midlands and moved just over a year ago to Croydon for work. I love food, whether it’s eating out or cooking at home. London has a lot to offer in the way of work and play but I am keen to discover what is available to me locally as I feel you don’t have to always head off to the city to have fun.

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  • Tanya Mcmurray

    These are great ideas, I’m so broke right now I’m absolutely panicking over Christmas, its going to be hard enough just getting the shopping in and most cheap gift or craft ideas cost more than just a small bottle of perfume from the shops, plus you need to ‘source’ all the crap you will be using. Got any good ideas for a cheap Christmas dinner too?