Food, presents, decorations, something special to wear … Christmas may be a magical time of year but it’s also a very expensive one — and wasteful, too. The average person is likely to spend £1,275 on festive purchases, and produce a mountain of plastic waste in the process.

Being a mother to two small girls, as well as hosting Christmas Day for my extended families, the Grinch is not something I would like to be. What if Christmas could be celebrated in style and without spending a fortune? Would it be possible to rent the entire family a luxury Christmas?

It’s a good investment and a great way to help the environment. That’s got to be worth more than a few smug points.

As a fashion editor, I’m no stranger to the rental market for clothes, with hiring the hottest way to shop. Clothing and accessory rental app, By Rotation, which loaned the fabulous Borgo de Nor dress I’m wearing here, has seen a massive 600 per cent growth in the last year.

Dinah Van Tulleken reveals how renting can make it possible to put on a Christmas extravaganza for less than £1,000. Pictured: Dinah with Lyra, four, and their returnable Christmas goodies

Dinah Van Tulleken reveals how renting can make it possible to put on a Christmas extravaganza for less than £1,000. Pictured: Dinah with Lyra, four, and their returnable Christmas goodies

You may have also heard about My Wardrobe HQ, which was featured for renting Carrie Johnson’s bridal dress.

But the rental industry doesn’t end with clothes and accessories. Retail revolution is bringing more companies to the table that allow customers to have whatever they desire or need while not having to go bankrupt.

From books to bikes, tables to trees, it turns out it is possible to put on a Christmas extravaganza worth £10k, while spending less than £1,000. The best part? Come Twelfth Night, you won’t have to find somewhere to store it all until next year!


A sad specimen lives in an empty pot at the back of our garden, except for a short time in the house during December. The plant is only 2 feet high and we are unable to have fun decorating it together.

Hallingbury Christmas Trees is now available in Essex. It’ll deliver a tree in a pot (removing the torturous process of trying to make your tree stand up straight), then take it away at the end of the season and care for it until next Christmas. It’s possible to request it again and again.

I opted for a 6 ft Nordmann Fir, at a cost of £60 for the festive period, and it arrived looking vibrant and healthy, filling the room with its wonderful pine smell. Hallingbury delivers only locally. However, there are other similar services available all across the country.

What about the decorations? For me, the worst part of Christmas isn’t the queuing in the supermarket for spare sprouts, it’s crawling around the attic for our lights, detangling the knotty mess and trying to work out which blown bulb is ruining the great van Tulleken switch-on.

It’s not true anymore. This year, I’ve hired some wonderful lights from Christmas Direct, where a string of 300 bulbs will cost you £30. They are of excellent quality, and you don’t have to screw every bulb.

Dinah (pictured) said Toy Box Club lets you rent fantastic hand-picked toys, books and puzzles, that can be swapped for a different collection of toys at the end of each month

Dinah (pictured) said Toy Box Club lets you rent fantastic hand-picked toys, books and puzzles, that can be swapped for a different collection of toys at the end of each month 


HIRE: £60

BUY: £140

SAVED: £80



HIRE: £30

BUY: £50

SAVED: £20



Lyra (four years old) is thrilled to have Santa visit. The problem is that she’s barely unwrapped a present before she’s bored with it.

You want to ensure your child is happy this Christmas without buying expensive toys they will never use again. With Whirli, customers pay £9.99 a month to access around £80 worth of toys. In a year, you might pay £120 (a figure I could spend on one item at Christmas) to access hundreds of toys.

Toy Box Club also lets you rent fantastic hand-picked toys, books and puzzles, delivered straight to your door for £35 a month. Each month it replaces one box with another set of toys at the end.

This way, you get all the excitement of unwrapping on Christmas Day and, once it’s no longer loved, you can simply send it back. While toys might have been loved by others, they still look brand new and sparkling. Each toy comes individually packaged in dust bags.

Dinah (pictured) said children grow out their books even quicker than their clothes, but Reading Chest offers age-appropriate rental

Dinah (pictured) said children grow out their books even quicker than their clothes, but Reading Chest offers age-appropriate rental 

You can fill the boxes yourself online to ensure your child gets a box they’re going to love. The mix of wooden and plastic designs was my choice. Sasha, 18 months old, loved the wooden station while the girls went straight to the louder plastic toys.

Lyra’s favourite was the interactive globe (pictured). She started finding countries her friends were from and telling me things I didn’t know about geography. Fun and educational.

HIRE: £44.99

BUY: £683.23

SAVED: £638.24

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Even faster than clothes, children grow out of books. While toy rentals like the ones above include books, if you have children who are still learning how to read, Reading Chest will provide age-appropriate materials. Lyra has only just started to read so I included a couple of educational Oxford Reading Tree books — the same series she is using at school, but these ones have all their pages and aren’t covered in scribble.

For £9.95, you’ll get up to six books per month. Simply return them in the pre-paid envelope when you’re finished and wait for more to arrive.

HIRE: £9.95

BUY: £24

SAVED: £14.05


Surely there’s nothing more Christmassy than a new set of kids’ wheels under the tree?

My primary requirement for a child’s bike is that it is light enough to carry, since I’m the one who always ends up lugging it back from the park when little legs get tired. But the good, light ones are all around the £300 mark and will need to be resold and replaced every six months as your child gets bigger.

Dinah (pictured) rented a fancy exercise bike for her husband Chris as every year he goes through a fitness machine phase

Dinah (pictured) hired a fancy exercise machine for Chris because he does a different type of phase every year. 

At Bike Club you can rent a bike from only £4.49 a month (plus joining fee) and just return and upgrade as your child grows. We chose a shiny blue Forme Cubley (pictured, £269.99 new) and Lyra was over the moon.

The bike was ready for use: it arrived with its tyres inflated, the chain cleaned, and all of the brakes set up. This is far better than my attempt to install a new one on Christmas Eve after drinking a few glasses. Lyra smiled big after I gave her a couple of ribbons. This was a huge win.

HIRE: £10.49

BUY: £269.99

SAVED: £259.50


Lyra’s not the only one who’s been longing for a new bike. Every year, my husband Chris goes through the same phase — with the result that our bedroom ceiling now bows under the weight of a loft full of dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells and a partially dismantled rowing machine.

Chris wants a fancy exercise machine, and I won’t buy it.

Hire Fitness lets me rent one and return it after eight weeks. (Trust me, he’ll have stopped using it in four.) A Peloton-style bike will set you back £16 a week plus delivery.

HIRE: £16

BUY: £500

SAVED: £484


Big family gatherings are lovely, but they often mean that everyone ends up crammed around a table that’s too small while garden chairs are dusted down and brought out of the shed.

Do you ever think anyone has a big enough table to seat everyone? With grandparents, siblings, their partners and their kids, I certainly don’t. I also don’t have a drinks trolley, but I’ve been longing for one.

Dinah hired a dining table, extra chairs and a glam drinks trolley from Fat Llama, who've teamed up with John Lewis

Dinah hired extra chairs, a table and drinks trolleys from Fat Llama to decorate her dining room. 

So hurrah for John Lewis, which has teamed up with Fat Llama, the world’s largest rental marketplace, so that you can hire furniture whenever you need it.

Fat Llama provided desks during lockdown when we were suddenly working from home — and, now, thanks to John Lewis, it’s here to ensure Christmas runs smoothly.

I hired a lovely dining table for £36, extra chairs for £12 each and that gorgeous, glam drinks trolley for £18 (pictured).

Although it was easy to find an old gravy bowl and get more cutlery than you need, now the design of the Christmas table is as important to you as the food.

I’d love to be the kind of person who owns a cupboard full of beautiful, event-appropriate tableware that can be wheeled out whatever the occasion, but I’m not.

Maison Margaux has the answer. Maison Margaux’s tables have been featured in Vogue. You can also hire items.

The winter collection was my favorite, with rich, luxurious tones in gold, red and copper.

It felt impossibly classy and Christmassy and, best of all, I don’t have to find space to store it all afterwards.


HIRE: £78

BUY: £1,296

SAVED: £1,218


HIRE: £266.70

BUY: £1,448

SAVED: £1,181.30

Dinah said Rotation¿s wizard fashion app is invaluable, as items can be filtered by size and there is an option to follow people with a similar style

Dinah said Rotation’s wizard fashion app is invaluable, as items can be filtered by size and there is an option to follow people with a similar style 


The pandemic means I haven’t needed any smart clothes for nearly two years. But with the 2021 party season upon us, By Rotation’s wizard fashion app is invaluable. It’s essentially Airbnb for clothing.

You can search by size to find people who have similar tastes, shapes, and styles. Check out the ‘Festive for under £50’ section.

There’s also a pop-up By Rotation store (98 Marylebone Lane, London W1U 2QA), where I found this fabulous Borgo de Nor dress costing £63 for the week. It’s perfect for playing dress-up on Christmas Day, but it’s so loud I wouldn’t have the confidence to wear it more than once a year —and at north of £600, while I adore it, it’s simply out of my league.

From coats and ballgowns, By Rotation stocks everything. Brands include High Street stalwarts Asos and & Other Stories and designer labels including Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton.

It’s one of the most inclusive sites I’ve ever been to, with lots of availability at size 16 and above, so you’re bound to find something fabulous for the big day.

HIRE: £63

BUY: £650

SAVED: £587


My seven children live with their cousins in hand-me downs. When I do buy clothes, I just can’t bring myself to spend money on things they will grow out of in a few months.

Little Loop pieces are beautiful and I wish they could be wrapped up in presents. They arrive in tissue, as if I’d ordered from a fancy boutique.

A couple of day dresses were chosen that would keep grandparents pleased on their big day.

There are thousands of items of sustainable kids’ clothing from the best ethical and organic brands such as Frugi, Little Green Radicals and Kite.

You’ll get six to seven items for £18 per month — that’s about £165 worth of clothes — and there are unlimited swaps.

HIRE: £18

BUY: £34

SAVED: £16

Dinah (pictured) said she would be furious if her husband splurged on a designer bag for her Christmas present, but she's happy to spend a few hundred on renting an accessory

Dinah (pictured) stated that her husband would have to buy her a designer handbag for Christmas, and she was furious. However she will rent an accessory instead.


I’ve dropped some heavy hints to my husband about the designer bag I’d like to see under the tree this month, but as much as I want it, I’ll also be furious if he spends that much on an accessory.

However, I’m happy to spend a few hundred on renting these beauties if I have an event I want to show off at. This gorgeous Chanel design (pictured) retails at £3,000, but you can have it for £50 a day on My Wardrobe HQ.

HIRE: £50

BUY: £3,000

SAVED: £2,950


All of us want to shine, so 4element offers a wide selection of designer goods.

I picked a vintage Art Deco bracelet from Dior costing £50 for four days, and some vintage pearl Chanel earrings (pictured), which were £60 for four days.

They’d have cost ten times that if I tried to buy them at auction. There’s no hefty deposit to pay either, you just need to upload ID when you set up an account.

HIRE: £110

BUY: £1,100

SAVED: £990


What Dinah hired …………………………….. £757.13

What it would have cost to buy …… £9,195.22

Total savings ……………………………….. £8,438.09