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Easy homemade Christmas gift and decoration ideas on a student budget

Make your own Christmas biscuits

Christmas 2020 is going to be like no other we’ve experienced. Limited family members at festive gatherings, no Christmas parties and travel restrictions are going to be a reality for most people in the UK. And due to the difficult year we’ve had, there will be even more uncertainty around money.

Like many students, 2020 has probably left you without your part time jobs and with some financial fears for the future. You might be thinking about how you can tighten the purse strings this festive period.

Well, help is at hand. In this article, we’re going to explore some really simple, easy and eco-friendly Christmas decorations and gifts that will make your student budget stretch as far as possible, and limit unnecessary plastic. And don’t worry, they still deliver a wow factor. Read on to discover how you can transform Christmas 2020 with minimal budget but maximum festive cheer. 

Christmas decorations for students on a budget 

Is there anything more festive than putting up your christmas decorations? Yep - making them too! Whether you’re preparing decorations for your shared house, or want to take some back home to the family, we’ve pulled together some of the best, budget friendly, homemade Christmas decoration ideas. 

Christmas paper chains

Make your own christmas paperchains

Image Flickr creative commons

OK, OK - don’t judge! We know paper chains have developed an unfair reputation for being a bit tacky over the years. But with some festive paper choices, Christmassy colours and joyful spirit, paper chains can make very elegant and interesting decorations. Believe us! Plus, they’re really satisfying to make.


  1. Cut paper into thin strips (or buy special paper chain paper from a stationary shop)

  2. Create a loop with the paper strips and glue ends together 

  3. Slip another paper strip into the loop and glue it to create a chain

  4. Keep adding new loops until you reach the optimal length of your paper chain

  5. Drape from ceilings, by fireplaces or even put it on your Christmas tree

Top Tip: Smaller, thinner paper loops can look far more elegant than the chunkier ones, and even look very smart on Christmas trees as a tinsel alternative.

Cost: All you need to buy is the paper and glue. You could even use recycled paper and just buy the glue. We think, as a maximum, very elaborate paper chains will cost you a maximum of £5.

Festive cheer: 7/10


Christmas clove oranges 

Make your own Christmas clove oranges

Image from Pexels 

Oranges are the ultimate winter fruit. Their scent, while fruity and sunny, also projects a warm, cosy festive smell that is unmistakably festive. To supercharge the festive scent and get it pumping through your house this Christmas, all you need to do is poke in some spicy cloves. Clove oranges make the perfect cheap christmas decoration, and if you make too many, they can even be used in your mulled wine!


  1. Take a bag of oranges and a bag of cloves

  2. Insert the cloves into the oranges by piercing the skin with the clove

  3. Place the finished oranges in a bowl and light candles near them to enhance the lovely festive smells

  4. Enjoy the spicey, fruity festive scent! 

Top Tip: Place the cloves in a pattern to make the orange look like a bauble. Stripes and polkadot can look especially sweet. You can even hook a string on your orange and use your oranges as baubles! (Just find a strong branch!)

Cost: A bag or oranges and some cloves shouldn’t cost you more than £3 

Festive cheer: 10/10


Your own Christmas foliage wreath

Make your own christmas wreath

Image from Pexels

Making your own Christmas wreath is festive, fun and easy! And the best thing is you can make a wreath out of pretty much anything. 

Go for a frosty winter forage in your local park or woods and collect anything from ivy to ferns to pine cones. Any type of winter foliage can make excellent material for your wreath. Then, just tie in some winter fruit such as orange slices or berries, and you’ll have a very festive, natural and cheap Christmas wreath! 


  1. Find some wire and create a circle to make your wreath ring

  2. Go foraging for lose vegetation 

  3. Wrap leafy and piney twigs around the wreath ring with string 

  4. Add fruit, baubles or anything else festive you might have lying around

  5. Place the finished wreath on your door and welcome the festivities into your home!

Top Tip: Use your existing decorations to the wreath to enhance the Christmassy feel without adding to the cost!

Cost: If you need to buy the wire and string, your Christmas wreath should cost £2-£3

Festive cheer: 10/10


Christmas card baubles

Make your own Christmas card baubles

Image by Flickr Creative Commons

This is a great idea if you’ve saved your Christmas cards from last year. Wallet-friendly and eco-friendly too, just cut out your favourite parts of last year's Christmas cards to create fun, easy and free Christmas decorations for the tree and around the house! 


  1. Find last years pile of christmas cards 

  2. Cut out your favourite parts of the cards 

  3. Tie string at the top of the cut-outs  

  4. Hang your new decorations on the Christmas tree or around the house!

Top Tip: To make the Christmas card decorations even more elegant, mount them on a  shiny cardboard base, or even a thin wooden base. 

Cost: Completely free! (minus any string, or special cardboard or wood bases)

Festive cheer: 7/10


Festive twigs

These simple decorations are growing in popularity every year, and it’s easy to see why. Cheap, cheerful and wonderfully rustic, there’s little that can go wrong with a bare winter twig and some shiny Christmas decorations. And for cash-strapped students, it’s an excellent alternative to a Christmas tree.

Festive christmas twigs

Image from Pexels 


  1. Time to go foraging again! Find a bare branch that has smaller branches coming of it that you can hang sparkly decorations from them 

  2. Brush off any excess dirt from your twig and place it somewhere in the home where it easily balances.

  3. You might want to leave it on the radiator for a couple of days so any moisture dries out, too. 

  4. Then, adorn your twig with existing decorations such as lights, baubles or tinsel - whatever you fancy!

Top Tip: Fairy lights really bring these festive twigs to life - buy some cheap-battery pack lights to help bring your festive twig to life wherever you put it.

Cost: Completely free! (minus the lights which could cost up to £5)

Festive cheer: 10/10


Dry fruit decorations

Make your own dry fruit decorations

Image from Pexels 

This is another homemade Christmas decoration that treats all the senses while being very easy and pleasing to make. 

Dried fruit are timelessly festive and add to the delicious cocktail of Christmas scents you want around the home at this time of year. While you can use a variety of fruit, oranges work well, and are also the cheapest and easiest to find at this time of year. 


  1. Take an orange and slice it into thin slices and leave the slices somewhere dry and warm for about three days. Radiators and sunny windowsills work very well as drying spots.

  2. Once dry and firm, make a hole at the top of the orange slice.

  3. Wrap a festive ribbon through the hole.

  4. Hang your dry orange slice decoration on the Christmas tree, around the fireplace - or wherever you fancy! 

Top Tip: You can incorporate cloves into these decorations to add to the zesty smell. Just stick them into the fleshy part of the orange - festive shapes encouraged!

Cost: This depends on how many you want to make, but the cost of the oranges and some ribbon - we estimate between £2-£4

Festive cheer: 9/10


Make your own potato print gift wrap

make your own potato print gift wrap

Image via Flickr Creative commons

While it doesn’t count as a decoration per se, gift wrap is certainly a huge part of the Christmas experience - and let’s face it, it does add to the overall cost of Christmas! 

But there are ways to upcycle materials in your house to create beautiful, festive wrapping paper that doesn’t break the bank.s fun to make and is a lot more personal than commercial wrapping paper. All you need is some paper, a potato, a knife and some paint. 


  1. Find some old paper bags or big sheets of paper. 

  2. Cut some potatoes in half and cut festive shapes into them

  3. Use any type of ink or paint to dip your potato into

  4. Stamp your festive shapes all over the paper and leave to dry 

  5. Wrap your homemade gifts!

Top Tip: Even old newspapers can work for this. In fact, the date stamps and busy sheets can make the gift wrap even more authentic. 

Cost: You’ll need to front the costs of potatoes and ink - £2-£5

Festive cheer: 8/10


Christmas gift ideas on a budget

Now your home is beautifully decorated and your festive paper ready to wrap, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re actually going to give to your loved ones this Christmas.

There are a lot of ideas for homemade Christmas gifts but we’ve taken money and time into the equation. These are some of the cheapest and easiest homemade Christmas gifts you can make that still deliver a bit of the “wow” factor. 

Edible or drinkable homemade Christmas gifts

Who doesn’t love eating at Christmas? So what better type of homemade Christmas gift is there than something tasty that’s been made by someone you love? It shows thoughtfulness and demonstrates that although you’d love to get your brother that Playstation 5, you’ve at least spent a good amount of time in the kitchen making them something special.

Make Christmas fudge 

Make christmas fudge

Image from Pexels 

Fudge is not only delicious, sweet and more-ish, but it’s also easy to make. It’s also easy to cut up and package to make a great gift. 

Depending on the type of fudge you want to make, there are only five base ingredients which are all very cheap and easy to get hold of. These tend to include: 

  • condensed milk

  • light brown soft sugar

  • butter

  • milk and/or cream 

  • a pinch of salt

Take these base ingredients and add something extra to put your stamp on the recipe. For example, spices, chocolate and even nuts create a more festive fudge that your friends and family will adore. 

For inspiration, here’s a list of our favourite festive fudge recipes:

Top Tip: Buy cheap cellophane bags and cut your fudge into small cubes. Use a ribbon to tie up the bag and you’ll have a beautiful gift. 

Cost: Depending on the size of the batch and what extra ingredients you choose, your total ingredients and cellophane bags shouldn’t cost you more than £10. 

Festive cheer: 8/10


Make infused gin

Make infused gin

Image creative commons by Flickr

Flavoured gin is a very easy, on trend, and well received gift that will put a smile on every (over 18’s) face. You can also make it festive very easily by infusing your gin with some Christmassy spices and fruits. 

All you need for your infused gin is:

  • a couple of bottles of gin

  • some fruit, fruit peel or festive spices (Cinnamon, orange or seasonal berries work well)

  • some smaller glass bottles (200-300ml bottles work well) to decant the gin and other ingredients into

Once you have added your ingredients into the smaller gift bottle, you just need to pour in the gin and leave it to infuse for a couple of weeks before giving them to your loved ones at Christmas. 

Top Tip: You can add a bit of sugar into the bottle and this creates a kind of “liquor” texture, making it all the more Christmassy.

Cost: Depending on the gin, a couple of bottles will cost you around £30. The infusions around £5, and the bottles around £10. This should give you enough gin to give to around 5 to 8 people. 

Festive cheer: 9/10


Christmas Cookies 

Make your own Christmas cookie

Image from Pexels 

Cookies are another simple and easy gift you can make for your loved ones this Christmas, and are very easy to do in big batches. Make sure you add some festive icing -really impress your friends and family with some attractive detailing to show the time you spent making them. 

There are lots of different types of cookies you can make, and the ingredients are always fairly similar. 

For inspiration, here’s a list of our favourite Chritsmas cookie recipes:

Top Tip: Make your cookies just ahead of gifting them - most cookies can last up to a week, but the fresher the better.

Cost: Depending on on how many cookies you’re going to make, this shouldn’t cost you more than £3-5.

Festive cheer: 10/10


Other ideas for homemade gifts 

Edible gifts aren’t the only way to your loved ones hearts this Christmas. Some low-maintenance crafts can also make very thoughtful and memorable gifts. We’ve picked out a couple of the easiest and greenest. 

Personalised cross stitch socks

Personalised cross stitch socks

Image by Creative Commons Flickr

When younger, receiving socks for Christmas was the epitome of the Worst Christmas Gift Ever. But when you grow up, you quickly realise that socks at Christmas are something to treasure, always needed and always appreciated. 

Add your own special touch to make this gift even more special. Buy some cheap socks, remove the packaging and cross stitch an in joke, or your gift recipient’s initials or nickname directly into the top of the sock. This is a great way to make an excellent gift even more personable and memorable.

Top Tip: Buy a multi pack of socks and dedicate a pair to each of your friends and family. Then, wrap the pair of socks up individually to make them look even more high end. 

Cost: This is a slightly more expensive gift idea because you need to buy the socks. Depending on the brand and quality, a five pack of socks could set you back £5 to £10. Then, if you don’t already have it, you’ll need to buy the thread and sewing equipment on top, which you can get for around £5.

Festive cheer: 8/10


Spring plant pot

spring plant pot gift

Image by Pexels 

Plants as gifts don’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can give them as gifts very cheaply if you plan ahead and use affordable materials. 

You don’t even need to buy the actual plants in order to give one. You only need to go as far as potting a winter bulb in soil, tie a ribbon around the pot, and then wait for it to do its magic a few weeks later.

By planting bulbs in late Autumn, they should be ready to flower in early to mid January, meaning you will give the gift that keeps on giving, well after Christmas is over! If you got there too late, you can buy pre-planted ones at garden centres and just repot them. 

All you need is:

  • Bulbs or pre-planted bulb

    • Hyacinths make the best bulb as they’re easy to look after, bloom just after Christmas and smell incredible. 

  • Soil

  • Plant pot 

  • Festive ribbon for pot decoration

Top Tip: Make sure you plant the bulbs in the best way possible. This Hyacinth Bulb Planting Guide shows you everything you need to know to make sure you’re gifting the happiest hyacinths.

Cost: Bulbs shouldn’t cost you anymore than 50p at a local garden centre. Add soil and pots to the mix, and per gift, this shouldn’t set you back more than £4 each. 

Festive cheer: 6/10 (more spring cheer!)


Christmas decorations as gifts 

christmas decoration gift ideas

Coming full circle, why not give the gift of some of the Christmas decorations you made earlier as gifts? Wreaths, baubles and festive twigs are sure to put a smile on your friends and family’s faces. After all - you’re giving the gift of Christmas joy!

Festive cheer: 10/10

Making the most out of Christmas 2020 on a student budget 

This year isn’t going to be an easy Christmas for a lot of people.emember to give yourself a break and not put too much pressure on yourself when gift giving.

Friends and family will understand the extra strains and pressures that this year has had on us all.o if you’re finding yourself with less budget, remember that a lot of other people are in the same boat - and however small your Christmas gifts are, it really is the gesture that counts.