Christmas is upon us and the end of term is nigh. While the majority of students will soon be making the journey home to celebrate the holidays with family, there’s no reason why the festivities shouldn’t start beforehand. Sure, your bank balance may be a little worse for wear and you’re ready for some of your mum’s cooking, but that’s no excuse for not getting merry with your mates in the run-up to this most festive time of year.
To help you make the most of Christmas as a student, we’re here with our ultimate guide to making your flat festive. From decorating on the cheap to nailing a budget Christmas dinner, our guide can help you get into the spirit of the season. We’ve even enlisted the help of the experts, who will be bringing you their guidance on how to celebrate Christmas on a shoestring student budget.
Making Your Flat Festive, Affordably
Christmas is an expensive time for everyone, not least cash-strapped students. That’s why, if you’re looking to decorate your student digs, you need to shop around for the most affordable decorations, or failing that, get a little crafty.
Below, we offer our top tips for giving your flat a festive finish without breaking the bank.
Buy Affordable Decorations
Tom Allingham, Lead Editor at Save the Student, believes that the key to achieving a Christmassy flat on the cheap is to ditch expensive stores for discount alternatives, where it’s possible to pick up decs for a fraction of the price of leading high street.
He says: “Christmas is already an expensive time, so why worry about paying over the odds for decorations? Baubles, tinsel, fairy lights can all be picked up at Poundland (other pound shops are available) for – you guessed it – one pound. The quality might not quite match up to what’s on offer at John Lewis and the like, but as far as we’re concerned, if it looks Christmassy, it is Christmassy.”
There’s no shame in buying festive decorations from discount stores, especially when you see the difference in price. Shop around, and you can get enough decorations to festive-up your entire flat for the same price as a single item in a high-end store – so it really does pay to aim cheap if you’re serious about giving your home that festive sparkle in time for Christmas.
Remember – the decorations you buy as a student are only temporary, and chances are you won’t get to enjoy them over the holiday anyway. They’re purely for getting into the spirit of things during the run-up to Christmas, so spending a lot isn’t worth it. We’d recommend getting together with your neighbours to put money in a kitty, from which you can buy decorations and Christmas dinner with all the trimmings without worrying about some people paying more than others.
Get Christmas Crafting
You may scoff at Kirstie Allsopp’s questionable crafting in C4’s Handmade Christmas, but getting crafty is a great way to save money on decorations, and will often give you something much more classy and unique than the ten-a-penny baubles, tinsel and garlands found on the high street.
Tom Allingham agrees, offering this advice for those thinking of creative ways to get their student digs feeling festive: “Making your own Christmas decorations could leave you with something that looks a million dollars, without having to spend it first.
“As always seems to be the case with arts and crafts, old empty jars are your friends here. What’s more, they’re versatile too. Fill one about a quarter of the way with salt and suddenly you’ve got a snowy scene to populate however you’d like. Take three or four, put some battery powered fairy lights in each one, and you’ve made something that we haven’t got a name for yet… but we’re sure it’ll look great.”
Taking Tom’s advice a stage further, the internet is the hero of the hour for those wishing to get crafting this Christmas, with literally thousands of guides, videos and resources out there offering instructions on how to make a variety of festive decorations – ranging from the simple and affordable to the outright complex and extravagant.
How far you take the DIY Christmas decorations is up to you, but there’s certainly lots of ideas and inspiration out there that can help you transform your student flat into a veritable festive grotto.
Whether you choose to shop at the discount stores or whip out the scissors and tape for an evening of crafting, remember that it is possible to get your flat looking festive no matter how tight your budget.
A Proper Christmas Dinner on the Cheap
Hosting a Christmas dinner in your communal living space is a great way to raise a toast to the end of term, and say goodbye to friends and housemates who have been with you through thick and thin since September. Sound expensive? With our helpful money-saving tips, you can enjoy a festive feast for less than you might expect – including all the trimmings.
Put Money in a Communal Pot
Rather than relying on one or two people to cough up for Christmas dinner, put £5 to £10 into a communal kitty (depending on how many people are attending the festive roast) – that way there’ll be no squabbles about who’s paid the most. You’ll easily be able to cover a festive cook-up if everyone pays their fair share.
Visit a Greengrocer
Most of us shop in supermarkets for ease and convenience, but a trip to your local greengrocer could save you money. Figure out how much veg you’ll need per person, that way you can buy by weight rather than getting multipack bags that cost more and usually lead to wastage. Buying just the right amount for that one meal will work out much cheaper than piling masses of veg into your trolley that you might not get around to eating.
Rethink the Turkey
Turkey may be the cornerstone of the Christmas dinner, but they tend to cost a fortune at this time of year. If you’re on a tight budget, opt for a chicken instead, or else go vegetarian with a nut roast, as there are now some delicious – and cheap – meat-free options available. If it has to be turkey, why not buy individual breasts rather than a full bird to not only save on costs, but make sure there are no leftovers. If you’d prefer a traditional bird, shop around for the best deals and don’t be afraid to visit a local butcher, as they’ll be able to advise on the right size of turkey for your party size, making sure you don’t pay over the odds and end up with lots of leftover meat.
Go Shopping Late at Night
If you’re planning a one-off Christmas dinner and have a specific date in mind, wait until the day before to do your shopping and go late at night, so you can take advantage of any sell-by-date reductions and discounts. This is great for fresh veg and meat, as retailers tend to shave pounds and pence off the price when produce is almost past its shelf life. With any luck, you could stand to get your entire Christmas dinner for a fraction of the full price – leaving plenty of leftover money in the kitty for festive tipples.
At aparto, we design student homes with community in mind, helping students get more from their university experience. Whether you’re a student or a parent, visit the homepage to find out more about our growing community of contemporary student homes, or get in touch via our contact page.
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