Last-minute hacks to make this Christmas Boujee on a Budget

Here is what you can do now and till Christmas to make the most of celebrating in style. 

Most of us are feeling the crunch this year with the cost of living crisis, so throw Christmas into the mix, and the pressure begins to mount. With gifts to buy, events to host and, of course, all that insta-worthy decorating to do, it does not come cheap, and it can be overwhelming if you’ve left things to the last minute. So we decided to bring in the big guns. Lifestyle creator and the brains behind the successful TikTok and Instagram series Boujee on a Budget, Sabby Jey is the queen of making things look good on a shoestring. Her hacks for living luxe while keeping things affordable have gone viral. So we knew she was the girl for the job to make your Christmas scream expensive while not hurting your wallet. 

Boujee on a Budget Decorating 

First, we need to decorate, and all those baubles and festive wreaths can add up. Here’s Sabby’s Boujee on a Budget guide to Decorating:

See your decorations as a prized collection and know when to shop and where 

I look at my decorations as a collection I add to every year. Nothing excites me more than November 1st when I can start putting up the tree and looking for new finds. Yes, November 1st- I know it’s wild- but that’s how much I love Christmas, and we do need to get that cost per day on display down!  Every year, I strategically focus on how I can add those unique pieces that add to the aesthetic of what I’ve already got. So that’s picking a colour scheme, sticking to it, and not rushing into buying things but seeing what sparks joy. I know how Marie Condo of me. This year, I purchased a few luxury baubles from Smith and Caugheys, which I knew would sell out quickly as I’ve missed out every year. I invested in those as key pieces for my collection and limited how many I purchased, but I made sure they worked with what I had. But my top trick is to wait until Boxing Day and even after New Year’s. This is when you can get 80 percent off Christmas decorations; it is the best time to buy up large. If you want to change your colour scheme, invest in wreaths and table decor; now is the day to do it. This is when I strike and build my collection for next year. My favourite boujee stores to visit for Christmas decor on sale are Bed Bath and Table, Smith and Caugheys, David Jones and Freedom Furniture. Just get in quick as the good stuff goes!

Less is more, so consider an upgrade 

If you can’t wait until Boxing Day consider buying a few high-end pieces over many small, cheaper pieces – it’ll cost the same amount. Instead of buying more decorations, consider upgrading a few pieces closer to Christmas day when decorations go on sale for 50 – 60% off. This year, I upgraded my tree toppers from David Jones for $55. If you want more decorations, it may mean your existing collection isn’t sparking joy, so purchase a few upgrades and sell off the rest. I sold off my old tree toppers for $15 on Facebook marketplace with a few bits and bobs. Other great options to upgrade and resell could be your Christmas Tree, Wreaths, and Garlands. Selling these off and replacing them when the sales hit is a great way to cost-effectively update your look without spending too much money.

Year-round decorations 

Another great hack is to buy decorations in colours and themes that you can keep and reuse throughout the year instead of just for Christmas. So say goodbye to the traditional red and greens.  Choose a theme you can pull out for birthdays, anniversaries or even a get-together.  Forego purchasing Santas, trees, nutcrackers, reindeer, and the like, which are Christmas-specific decorations. Buying candles, faux floral arrangements and dining settings in neutral colour schemes, metallics or greens and blues allows you to consider spending a little more for year-round use.  

Dine in style daily through December 

Having your table set with candles, placemats, napkins, and themed dinnerware the week before Christmas can spruce up your entire living space. If you don’t have spare dinnerware, consider buying charger plates from Kmart for just $2.50 a pop. Second-hand shops may have unique serveware and silverware that you can add to benchtops and coffee tables for drinks and nibbles. It’s also that old adage of getting that “cost per day on display” down. How girl math of me! 

Gifting Boujee but on a Budget 

Now the house is styled, it’s time to get those last-minute gifts. Here’s Sabby’s guide to gifting luxe for less.

Quality over quantity 

I like the adage less is more. It worked for Coco Chanel, so it can also work for us. Although buying many presents may look more appealing under the tree, it leads to excessive plastic, wrapping and regifting. Would you prefer one special, well-thought-out gift or a lot of less thoughtful things you’ll throw in the junk drawer? I know my answer. So gift with that in mind and take peace with ”under the tree” looking a little more naked. I like to choose one mindful gift wrapped beautifully with a heartfelt handwritten card for my loved ones. Outrightly ask your loved ones what are a few things they would like – they can check something off their wishlist.

Nothing beats the outlet 

I have always been a massive fan of outlet shopping, and Christmas is the perfect time to hit them. You can find something higher-end for your loved ones from a designer store at a fraction of the price. Make sure to research local outlets in your city and search for those special pop-up outlets during the holiday season. My favourite gift destinations in Auckland are Dressmart (Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Sheridan, and Country Road). Nood, Citta, and French Country Collection outlets also never disappoint with home and living gifts for family members. But my personal pick of the bunch (I’ve been gatekeeping this one for a long time) is The Linen House Outlet in Rosedale. This is such a find. As the distributors for premium linen and towel sets stocked by Farmers and David Jones, you can get unsold stock sets from $30 to $50. Thank me later. 

‘Extra’ Wrapping 

How a gift is presented is crucial when being boujee on a budget. So consider buying a large roll of gift wrap in neutral colours online or from craft stores that you can use throughout the year. Brown Kraft paper has been my ongoing favourite for this very reason: you can mix and match it with ribbons for any time of the year. I found a 50m roll of paper for $30 on the marketplace and some bulk cream ribbons in different sizes for $20. I bought these in 2021, and they are still going strong. Watch a few YouTube videos to learn the art of wrapping, add a cute name tag with twine and use gold markers to add names. Pop in branches, tree branches or fresh flowers for an extra touch of boujee. 

Remember to keep bags and boxes to repurpose any wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper and ribbons for repurposing. 

The card 

Remember when people would send snail mail cards in the post to their “Christmas Card List”. I have such nostalgia for that simplicity and never underestimate a card’s value. It can add such a thoughtful touch for a limited cost. I purchased a beautiful 10-pack holiday card set for just $2 last year from Kikk. K. I like to write something heartfelt inside, then use a gold pen to write my loved one’s name on the envelope. A real wow factor is the wax seal gift set I purchased online for just $15, but since it may be too late to shop online, there is a Stationary store in Albany, Auckland called Goodie Goodie that sells wax stamps and melts. I suggest buying this now and using it for your cards throughout the year. An extra boujee tip is to stamp in a dried or fresh flower and tie some twine or ribbon with a bow around the envelope. 

Being a Boujee Host on a Budget 

And finally, Christmas is all about food. Sabby has top tips to impress your guests while not breaking the bank.

Mindful grocery shopping 

We need to be doing this all the time, but especially at Christmas. Making conscious choices around food shopping saves you hundreds of dollars while hosting. Write a list of what you need and stick to it- but also be strategic with where and when you shop for what.  If you’re looking for quality food on a budget – hit any Farro store from the late afternoon; they start green stickering many fresh produce, meat and deli items. Similarly, Countdown discounts its meat around 10 am on weekdays. The best option for an all-round cheap shop is Pak’n’Save in Wairau Park. They will have the bulk of items you need and can save the “special things” from more high-end grocery outlets. There is also a big misconception about buying from “Reduced to Clear”. There are not just soon-to-expire or expired items; many are just extra-stock or rebranded products. So, hitting a food clearance store can be a great way to find those specialty items.  If you’re in Auckland,  Why Knot is based in East Tamaki and is a trendy food clearance store. 

Boujee up your drinks 

The trick here is all in the styling. Opt for presentation over purchasing fancy canned and bottled drinks or wine bottles. If you don’t have eye-catching glassware, consider Kmart’s stunning range or hit your local thrift store. Use unique ice trays and add reusable gold or glass straws. Garnish with fresh lemons, cucumbers, berries or mint to add flavour. Take it further by dipping glass rims in sugar and adding washed flowers from the garden to beverages. Get that “restaurant feel at home” by offering your guests sparkling water. My boujee on a budget trick is to thrift a soda maker and display water in Antipodes bottles that are about $6 a pop. You can reuse them and refill them; nobody has to know!

Fresh Herbs as decorations 

This is an instant trick to add that restaurant look to your dishes. I have prewashed herb pots, which, during the year, decorate your counters but can be added to dining setups. Some popular herbs include Italian parsley, rosemary, mint and coriander, which can be used across nearly every dish or platter. Allow your guests to pick and choose their garnishes, making their dining experience interactive. You can buy herb pots relatively cheaply from your local hardware store or Kmart. Always add water to the saucer to increase the longevity of the herb. You can also add a bit of Christmas cheer by adding a few baubles around the base. 

Gazing at your grazing 

While hosting can be stressful, why not teach yourself new skills like the art of charcuterie boards. A low-cost antipasto selection from your grocery store and a serving platter from Kmart can still be presented in a way that makes it look like a million bucks. Go to YouTube and take some tutorials. Learn the art of cutting fruit and making cute salami flowers. My top trick is adding dips into cute little ramekins and sprinkling sesame and a dash of olive oil. Even dusting your grapes with icing sugar can create a wow factor. Styling the platter with sprigs of rosemary and pretty display flowers from the garden adds a lovely touch. The little tweaks are endless, but I do find inspiration from the internet helps. For ideas on building a healthy grazing platter, click here.

For more Boujee on a Budget check out Sabby’s Instagram and TikTok.

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