When you do your Christmas shopping on a budget, a talent for rifling through the racks at TK Maxx and Poundworld, or for creating beautiful gifts with your own tremulous hands will only get you so far. On your present list there may be one person who is causing you – and your carefully-crafted Christmas spending plan – no small amount of grief. Sometimes Christmases, like weddings, can bring out the worst in people; at other times, there is the discomfort of knowing that however much you want it to, your budget simply won’t stretch as far as you would like.
I must be honest: at this point, I’m looking from the outside in. After several thrifty Christmases, the very idea that one would bust one’s Christmas budget by blowing it on stoopid deluxe items makes me all frosty-faced. Like this:
That’s partly because I’m a tightwad, and partly because I am lucky enough to have a husband who can churn out homemade Christmas gifts like this. (Women! If you can’t marry a footballer, marry a man with a thickness sander and a drill press.) But it is also because if you know where to look, you can get some rather extravagant gifts at purse-friendly prices. Here are a few that have caught my stern, matronly eye over the past week:
1. Discount Designer Cushions – from £10 + P&P
I’ve put Discount Designer Cushions right at the top of the list, because it is the brainchild of a Miss Thrifty reader. You know, you lot are as canny as they come!
Our very own cushion queen is called Lynn, and she lives on the edge of the Lake District. Lynn buys up short end-rolls of swish designer fabrics, and turns them into totally foxy cushion covers. The designers range from Designers Guild to Ralph Lauren. Well-to-do interior design names such as Sanderson and Villa Nova are also featured. There are even a few cushions made from vintage fabrics.
The cushion covers are £10, with pads starting at £6. Postage is £1.50 for the first item, and 50p for each additional item.
Last order dates: for cushions with inner pads, order by 15th December. For cushion covers only, order by 19th December.
2. Zatchels- from £30 including postage
I love my little Zatchels barrel bag, which I bought in a Zatchels half-price sale earlier this year. The leather is thick and the workmanship is high quality. Although we are coming up to Christmas, Zatchels have been running various sales and discounts. From now until Sunday 15 December 2013, for example, you can get 40% off anything from the Gothic Lace range. The discount, which is automatically deducted at the checkout, brings the price of a Gothic Lace barrel bag (above) down from £50 to £30, with free delivery. Not all the deals are flagged up on the Zatchels website, but if you follow Zatchels on Facebook you’ll be kept up-to-date.
3. Art prints from Art.co.uk – from £2.98 + P&P.
This smart website sells framed and unframed art prints. As you might expect, it’s on the dear side – but not if you move fast. Right now there is a discount code that will give you 35% off all orders: NA62. You have to be quick though: the code expires today (Wednesday 11 December 2012). In addition, the website currently has a sale on, with up to 75% off some of its bestselling items. The upshot is that you can get a very nice print for a very nice price: for example with the sale discount plus the 35% discount applied at checkout, the price of the blue David Liittschwager print above is reduced from £17.99 to £9.09, plus £3.95 postage.
The cheapest print on Art.co.uk is this Andy Warhol sunset print, reduced to £2.98. There is a LOT on this site: if there isn’t something for everyone, I’d eat my hat. Different items have different delivery dates, all of which are clearly marked.
You can also order your prints framed. The costs of framing are reasonable with the 35% discount applied, but they still aren’t super-cheap: framed, reduced and discounted, that same blue David Liittschwager print (above) would cost £38.99 with free delivery. You may prefer to seek a mount and standard-sized frame elsewhere – but if you do, don’t leave the framing until the last minute (I speak from experience), particularly if your frame is a non-standard size and needs squirrelling out, or if your print needs mounting too. If you can’t DIY, note that these services tend to get booked out in the run-up to Christmas.
4. The Atterley Road sale – from £10 + P&P
An oldie, but a goodie: anytime I feature the fashion website Atterley Road on here, it proves popular. So you should know that Atterley Road has 450 items in its online bargain bin at the moment. Prices start at £10 for Petit Bateau tops. Standard delivery is £3.95 for orders of less than £100.