A no-spend Christmas is a challenge.

Our Christmas spending goes nuts in the week before Christmas with people spending just over 150 per cent more than in a usual week, according to Paymark.

It's true it's only the biggest Scrooges or Kiwis who come from cultures that don't celebrate Christmas who are likely to spend precisely nothing.

But making Christmas almost gift-free or celebrating over champagne and canapes rather than the full turkey and trimmings can cut the cost significantly and be more satisfying. It can be done by stepping back and looking for ways for creative thought to trump shopping.

Advertisement
Stress-free Christmas
Stress-free Christmas

Make family traditions

The best Christmases involve memories. That could be watching a family Christmas movie together, singing carols, going for a walk, going to church, or visiting the Christmas lights.

Set a tight budget
Work out how much you're going to spend on food, presents and decorations. If you don't know where to start, begin budgeting with the figure you spent last year.

Eat what you have first
Trawl your pantry and fridge for ingredients to use for Christmas dinner and parties. Are there special ingredients you bought during the year and haven't used? Add the words "Christmas" and "recipe" to whatever ingredients you have in your fridge. Anyone for a sausage wreath or chickpea and lemon stuffing?

Limit the trimmings
Christmas dinner costs a small fortune. But do you really need all those trimmings, such as cranberry sauce and brandy butter? Simple is better.

Don't hit the mall until you've poked in every nook and cranny of your home looking for gifts you received last year to give to someone who really wants them.

Bring a plate

If you're hosting Christmas dinner, specify exactly what you want guests to bring - including alcoholic drinks. Otherwise you'll be left carrying the can for the most expensive items. If you need to bring a plate, do something simple such as a home-made cheese roll and crackers. Write lists Don't go Christmas shopping for gifts or food without a list. Even if you don't know what you're going to buy Aunty Jenny, at least note down the number of gifts you need to buy, along with a dollar figure.

Re-gift
Don't hit the mall until you've poked in every nook and cranny of your home looking for gifts you received last year to give to someone who really wants them.

Go second-hand
Second-hand gifts are always perfectly acceptable in our house if they are well chosen.

Limit the number of gifts
I admit to being a sucker for a large pile of gifts under the Christmas tree - but many of those are consumables I wouldn't otherwise buy during the year.

Secret Santa
A gift exchange where everyone buys a present of a certain value for a specified person is fun and cheap. If there are at least 10 of you, play the White Elephant game, where others can steal your gift if they like it better than theirs. Some of the most desirable Secret Santa gifts are ones you can eat and drink.

Make your own gifts
Last year I asked for a bicycle wheel Christmas wreath and supplied upcycled materials to the little people to make it for me. That cost them just their time. Collect jars and fill them with home-made sugar scrub, face masks, easy to make microwave chutneys and jams, or even Moroccan preserved lemon. Google "home-made gifts" for more ideas.

Get creative
Simple food can be plated creatively to look delectable. Likewise beautiful wrapping is easy and can often be made from things you have around the house such as the lei you bought to go to a Hawaiian theme party. Keep and reuse ribbons and wrapping from gift boxes. Check out Pinterest, Google and YouTube for ideas. They are endless.
.