Stylish Christmas savers

Melanie Whitehouse / 12 December 2018 ( 08 November 2019 )

Read on for ideas on creating a table-setting with the wow factor without breaking the bank. Then follow our clever ruses for elegant gift-wrapping, and once you’re done, pour yourself a well-earned glass of fizz and raise a toast to all your hard work…

An amazing Christmas table and elegantly wrapped presents don't have to blow your budget. With expert tips from a stylist and a party planner, we show you how to be stylish on a shoestring... 

Creating a festive Christmas table

Follow stylist Jennifer Haslam’s top tips and your dining table will impress guests almost as much as the delicious food you serve.

Thrifty Christmas dinner ideas

• Use different height decorations across your dining table for a layered look. Slimline pieces such as tall candles and narrow tree ornaments won’t obstruct your guests’ view.

• For a simple festive arrangement, use fresh eucalyptus as a runner – intertwine with battery-operated fairy lights for added sparkle. Get ahead by arranging it the night before – eucalyptus stays fresh for days.

• Continue the greenery theme with place settings – tie cutlery together with a few eucalyptus leaves and natural string.

• Add a further natural touch by using slices of wood as rustic place mats. You can buy them readymade; no need to get out the chainsaw unless you want to.

• There’s always room for flowers on the table, even if you have to move them before you eat. DIY with red roses, berries and gold-sprayed leaves, or look for seasonal offers and buy a ready made bouquet.

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Gifts wrapped with paper and tied with string or twine
Brown paper packages are among our favourite things, especially when they look this good! Photography: David Cleveland. Styling: Jennifer Haslam.

Three ways to make the humblest present look boutique gift-wrapped

1 Use brown paper

It never goes out of style and can be dressed up in so many ways.

2 The details make a difference

Use ribbon, string and coloured twine to add texture or colour. Tie in fresh eucalyptus, just a sprig or two, to make your presents smell wonderful as well as look great. A sprig of rosemary works well, too.

3 Look for creative alternatives

Use old music scores as wrapping paper (or print off a Christmas carol score from the internet) and finish with a big, swanky bow.

Bargain wines for Christmas

More present wrapping ideas

• Tartan is big this year – mix 'n' match tartan prints on paper and ribbon in red, green and white.

• Use festive masking tape to make your own criss-cross or other designs on brown paper.

• Upcycle free or out-of-date road maps and secure with red cord, then thread through a pretty button and knot to secure it.

• Buy an ink stamp pad in a festive design from Hobbycraft ( – or use a white chalk pen on black paper - and create your own unique wrapping paper. Add ribbon in a complementary colour.

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Tips for planning a party

Party planner Rachel Day of Day Productions, has some great ideas for creating a fun, festive occasions.

• 'Putting any nibble or canapé on a Christmas or festive plate will make them look fantastic,' says Rachel. 'Display everything on your table with lots of candles and you’ll have a gorgeous spread.'

• Make the Christmas tree the focal point where your guests will gather. Decorate with swags of fairy lights and gorgeous baubles.

• No space for a tree? Create a twig installation over an island or a table. Use invisible fishing wire to hang up the branches, then add baubles. 

• Spray paint twigs and branches gold or silver, put in a vase and decorate with baubles and clear fairy lights to create a mini Christmas tree.

• Decorate mantelpieces and window ledges with holly branches and ivy.

• Fill blank spaces on walls with large, fold-out foil decorations and fat tinsel – it's colourful, fun and screams Christmas party.

• Play your favourite Christmas songs and everyone will have a ball!

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.