Christmas savings

Getting crafty isn’t always a Christmas saver

It's often said that you can save money by hand-making your gifts, but this is not always true. Here's what you need to know.

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Can you really save money by turning your hand to the creative side this Christmas? Not always because you need the skills, the time and patience.

Financy’s all round design guru Tanyika Fraser shares her thoughts and where you will and won’t save money by getting crafty with Christmas decorations and clothes.

When can and can’t you save by getting crafty?

If you have the skills, you can generally save by making items which require more detail, such as a hand-finished edge or are made of a good quality sustainable material.

If you want a cheap craft option, then you are probably better off buying them, to save on time and money.

To define quality always look at the material used. Cotton is sustainable product if it is produced ethically. But it is also more expensive these days.

What tends to happen in big department stores, is that most clothes are made offshore with viscose or a rayon-blend. These have a similar feel to cotton and can be quite affordable.

But in terms of kids wear they can actually be kind of dangerous, because they melt in the case of fire.

This is where making clothes that are of a higher quality can actually be a cost saving to you, as opposed to buying something that just won’t last.

On the crafty side of things, Christmas decorations can either be cheap or expensive. I have a tree full of hand-made felt decorations and the kids can grab these and they won’t break. A sheet of felt will cost you 50c and I was able to make about four items from that.

But some items you just can’t make for a fraction of the retail sale price.

Take Christmas stockings, you might be better off just buying them from Kmart or Target because with all the details, it’s unlikely you will be able to make these for the low cost that they typically sell at. Usually between $2-$10.

Can you really save by making your own clothes?

Yes, if you are going for a premium product you can save if you know how to do it well yourself.

If you are going to a wholesale fabric outlet, you can buy quality fabrics for a faction of the retail price. But if you are buying your fabrics out of a bargain-bin, then no.  You are just likely to make a cheap version of the product that inspired you in the first place.

Where do you draw the line between making and buying?

I don’t like to be ripped off, so money is a big factor. If I walk into a shop and find something fabulous but the price tag is massive, but I really want it, then I will most likely make it myself.

That said, if I see something that is made really cheaply and I know I can do a better quality job, I won’t buy the cheap version, I will make it.

What value do you put on your time, versus going to the shops?

Time for me is everything. Getting creative has to be worth my time to be away from other things, particularly my family.

I won’t simply make something just because I can do it cheaper, I will only do it if I am going to get pleasure out of doing it.

What personal satisfaction do you get by being crafty?

There is something very special about making something for people and seeing them happy.

The time it takes for executing craft, be it making clothes or other things, has to be enjoyable because it is a labour of love.

Planning is really important, and you have to be prepared sometimes to put things aside for a week. Like an art work. Whereas when you buy at the shops, it’s usually done and dusted in the one outing or online session.

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