Well, it's less than two weeks until the big day, so you've probably bought and wrapped your pressies and ordered your food shopping. Or if you're like me...maybe not! If money is tight this year, I've got a few hints and tips to help you save money before and after Christmas without scrimping too much... Gifts and decorations Good, old fashioned paper chains and snow flakes are fun to make with the kids, look pretty in a fashionable, vintage way and cost next to nothing. Older children can make some beautiful felt decorations, which are pretty enough to give away as gifts. Cinnamon and apple sauce decorations are also lovely to make and smell gorgeous. Make cards for your nearest and dearest, such as these pretty teabag folded Christmas tree cards, instead of buying them, using cheap card and paper from pound stores. If you can't afford to buy presents for anyone other than close family and friends, but would like to give others a 'little something', make some home made hamper treats. Wrap in cellophane or cover jam jar lids with pretty material, and the gifts will look far more expensive than they really are. Fill cheap, pretty mugs with home made truffles or pound store stationary and wrap in cellophane for another budget friendly gift. Christmas Dinner Whether you're vegetarian, vegan or just thinking about cooking a veggie Christmas dinner, you're already well on your way to saving a packet. According to The Guardian, the average price for a UK family Christmas dinner is a whopping £129.47 (a huge 14% increase on last year!). Of that, the turkey costs around £17. Swap the turkey for a nut roast and you save instantly! Smoked salmon is also very expensive this year, so swap that for goat's cheese tarts, or maybe a vegetarian pate with Melba toast and the savings start to mount. Make a meal plan for the whole of Christmas week so you know what to buy in and so you don't waste money on things you really don't need. Think about breakfasts and lunches, snacks and puddings, as well as main meals. Do your grocery shopping online through My Supermarket which automatically finds the cheapest store for you to shop with, depending on which items you need. Then send your trolley to your preferred retailer and book your Christmas week slot ASAP. You can always amend the items you need before your shopping is delivered, but try not to be tempted by too many 'special offers'. Alternatively, try Aldi, which is usually cheaper than the major supermarkets, although their vegetarian chilled and frozen food ranges are limited. You might also like to check out Approved Food for end-of-line and out-of-date products which often includes premium brands and some luxury foods well below RRP. Although supermarket 3 for £5 deals sound good value, when you realise how many canapes you can make with a pack of puff pastry, a bit of cheese and a few vegetables, you might think again. So, make some of your buffet foods for Christmas and New Year in advance and freeze until needed. Make your own dips on the day too/night before...they're really easy, so even the kids can help. Left overs Don't through away Christmas dinner leftovers. Save all of your left over Christmas dinner vegetables (including roast potatoes,parsnips, sprouts etc.) and gravy in air tight container and pop in the fridge or freezer until needed. Fry a chopped leek or onion in a little oil, then add the diced, left over cooked and raw vegetables and some extra stock (I use 1 litre of stock in a soup to feed 4 people) and simmer for around 20 minutes, then blend to make a delicious soup. Sliced, cold nut roast tastes great on Boxing Day with salads, a batch of home made chips (fries) and pickles. You can also use it up as a pate in sandwiches or on crackers if you're peckish later on! Food between Christmas and New Year After you've used up all the Christmas left overs, go super-budget and use store cupboard standbys for a few days. That way, you should be able to afford to put on a good spread for New Year's Eve/New Year's Day without blowing the budget. For some more veggie Christmas meal ideas, please take a look at the Vegetarian Society Christmas Menu. Subscribe to posts here.