My Mom instilled in me a lovely tradition of having fresh flowers in our spare room when guests stay with us, but I find fresh flowers so expensive that I’ve turned to a cheaper alternative – silk flowers. Silk flowers are also a time saver because you buy them once every few years (really only when you want to restyle a room as they can be kept clean with regular dusting). Then patiently wait until your houseguests arrive.
Just how much money can silk flowers save?
Cost of fresh flowers (medium bouquet)
$20 from our local florist buys us a healthy bouquet of fresh in season blooms that we can hand select or rely on her expertise to compose. I find they last about a week.
$12 from our local grocery store buys us a medium-small mixed bouquet of fresh flowers with few options to chose from. I find they usually last 3-4 days.
Total: $12-$20 (and up from there!)
Cost of orchids (one plant in container)
Home depot has potted orchids for $15; Whole foods has them for $16. The bloom lasts for several weeks, making orchids a very cheap alternative to fresh flowers, but then the plant is bare for several months and may not bloom again unless it is in the right conditions. It may even – gasp – die on you. With my not so green thumb, it will definitely die. Sad face.
Cost of paper flowers (as many as you make)
You’ll need to invest in some green floral wire or pipe cleaners (about $5) and a few sheets of sturdy paper. If you want bold prints or patterns, try scrapbooking sheets for about $.50 each. A package of solid colored stiff paper will work well, too. You may be able to use paper you already have, saving you a few dollars. I like TipNut’s list of 50 paper flowers you can make.
While many of these paper flower tutorials are simple, some of them require a high degree of patience, skill, and time. My paper flowers look nice, but they fall far short of spectacular.
Total: $8 and up
Cost of silk flowers (as many as you choose)
I bought seven huge peony stems at Michael’s for 60% off the original price of $5 each. My total was $14 and my flowers will last for several years, unless my children destroy them before that! Michael’s has a huge variety of silk flowers for sale (that may be a misnomer as I’m guessing many of them are made of some blend of polyester) and so your cost will vary. But you can certainly get a nice bouquet with just $10. The best selection is in the spring. And of course, use a coupon! I always use coupons on Michael’s mobile app, and if I have any trouble the cashier usually scans a coupon she behind the register.
Find silk flowers at Michael’s, Joanne’s, Target, on eBay or Esty, or on one of many online silk floral shops.
There is a huge range in quality of silk flowers, from ones that are obviously fake from several yards away, to ones that are so real looking you have to touch them. High quality silk flowers are beautiful to look at and never wilt or turn brown or stink or drop petals. However, they also never smell as delicious as fresh flowers and their petals will never be as soft. Just something to keep in mind.
Total: $10 and up
So how much of a savings are silk flowers?
Silk flowers are not much cheaper to buy, but because they last so long – several years compared to a few days or weeks for fresh flowers and plants – they are an incredible deal. (I did not include the cost of a vase because I’m assuming you all have at least one vase or that you can find a suitable container to hold your fresh or paper or silk flowers.)
If you have houseguests four times a year, here is your five year cost of buying flowers:
- $400 for fresh flowers from a florist ($20 x 4 times a year x 5 years)
- $240 for fresh flowers from the grocery store ($12 x 4 x 5)
- $300 for an orchid ($15 x 4 x 5)
- $8 and up for paper flowers you make ($8 x 1 because you only make them once! = $8)
- $10 and up for silk flowers you buy ($10 x 1 = $10)
Buying silk flowers ends up saving you $390 compared to fresh flowers from a florist, a savings of 97 percent! Another way to look at it is this: for every dollar you spend on fresh flowers, that same silk flower would cost you 2.5 cents. Silk flowers are one of the best bargains out there!
The only cheaper alternative to silk flowers is paper flowers, and even then it comes down to how much you spend on supplies. They could easily end up costing the same, or the reverse could be true with paper flowers costing more than silk flowers. Plus, with paper flowers you have to consider that you handiwork may not be as fine as the silk flowers you buy.
The Frugal Exerciser says
I don’t like silk flowers. You have to always clean the dust off of them. BTW, Are you guys doing the Live Below the Line challenge this year?
Bargain Babe says
@The Frugal Exerciser I don’t mind the dusting, and I picked up a nice feather duster at a hardware store that was going out of business, so it was CHEAP. I’d rather spend a few seconds dusting the silk flowers than running to the florist to pick out a bouquet and pay for it. Do you have plants in your house? What do you prefer?
Re: Live Below the Line challenge…maybe! It’s a few weeks away so I would have time to prepare and get my husband on board. The idea is each person in your house eats on $1.50 PER DAY for one week? Are you doing it?