Oohh Christmas! I love Christmas – the gifts, the music, the mince pies, the cookies and assorted Christmas treats, and most of all – the decorations! All sparkly and shiny and glittery and pretty and did I mention sparkly? I have a pretty big family – 5 brothers and sisters with their assorted children, 3 children of my own and a collection of aunts, uncles and cousins from both sides of the family. So Christmas is always a big deal – whether we like it or not!
The fact that my kids are still quite young (2 still believe in Santa – I’m going to cry when they stop) means that Christmas decorations are a no choice requirement, although my mom would also have a go if I ever considered not putting any up. But when your family is as big and your budget as tight as mine then the cost of Christmas decorations can make you want to swear off the whole thing and disappear until the New Year.
Thankfully there are hundreds, if not thousands of affordable and almost free Christmas decorations that require nothing more than a little creativity, time and patience to make. You’ll also need scissors, craft glue, craft paints (spray paint if you can afford it), clear adhesive tape, a WHOLE lot of glitter, yarn, space and plenty of newspaper. I found most of what I needed to buy at Target and with coupons I found on Discountrue.com I spent less than ever to decorate my ENTIRE home!
The first step is to cover every surface that you want to protect with newspaper, tape it down if you want to be sure it won’t slide off the table or around the floor. There is going to be a mess and having the newspaper makes it easier to clean everything up afterwards! Now onto the ideas…
With enough paper, scissors and a whole lot of time (plus a few tutorials) – it would be possible to decorate your entire house using nothing but paper, and although we made a lot of decorations we also relied on a few other mediums.
Disclaimer: we buy our craft paints by the half gallon (6 in a set) so we have plenty available and we’re not shy with using it! But you can also use colored paper, wrapping paper and anything else you want to when making your decorations.
First we made garlands out of interlinked paper rings. We painted whole sheets of old newspaper (both sides) in a variety of Christmas colors using a mini roller and used that to make our rings. Some of the sheets were multicolored, some were one color and a few were patterned using stencils and potato stamping locks. The nice thing about this trick is that you can use these decorated sheets of newspaper to make gift bags and wrapping paper as well! The paper gets a little stiff so treat it like project board. And as kitschy as it is we also made popcorn garlands which we colored using a little food coloring and water in a tiny spritzer bottle. What’s more, we made other Christmas themed paper chains and hung them all around the house.
Then it was time for snowflakes. Again – there are so many different kinds of homemade snowflakes you could have a house filled with them and have no 2 alike! I found this picture (far left) while browsing Pinterest for ideas and fell in love with how beautifully intricate these snowflakes are. The folding part was a little tricky to figure out so follow these directions! But once they were cut out my son painted the base color and my daughters embellished with glitter or a mist of silver spray paint.
And here are some other snowflake type decorations we made. Some of these work best with colored (or pre-painted) paper and pretty gift wrap although plain white paper works just as well.
We also made snowflakes out of ice cream sticks (not as intricate but still beautiful), and because these are a little more sturdy we embellished them with everything from glitter and paint, to ribbons and beads.
These snowflakes were a personal favorite of mine because we made them out of old soda bottles – from the small buddy kind to the full family size kind. We coated the ‘inside’ of the bottle bottoms with a very thin layer of paint to make different colors, then painted our designs on the ‘outside’.
Tiny Christmas Trees
Next we made little accordion folded Christmas trees with straws for the trunk and a thick strip of paper wrapped around the bottom end for the base. You can hang these little guys from your tree, the windows or banisters, or you can use a little Sticky Tack to make sure they stay put and use them on tables, mantles and window sills.
Soda Bottle Penguins
Sticking with the soda bottle theme we also made these absolutely adorable little penguins (Happy Feet is one of my favorite movies ever!!) If you’re worried about the paint flaking off your soda bottle decorations then just hit it with a little hairspray or even clear varnish (the spray kind – or you’ll smudge everything!) when you’re done. Not only does it give them a nice finish – it stops the paint rubbing off on everything!
Next came our pine cones. Some of them we used for hanging decorations, others as centerpieces in clear glass salad bowls and the rest were turned into even more Christmas trees with a little golden paper star on the top. If you’re going to use pine cones then please make sure to clean them properly first – there are tutorials all over the internet to help with this. You can either dip the cones in a bucket of paint or make your own spray paint using a spray bottle, acrylic paint and water (about 1:1). For the gold, silver and glittery pine cones, you can dose your standard painted ones in glitter or use a tin of spray paint from your local department store.
We made a lot more decorations but it would take pages and pages to describe them all so I’ve just added my favorite ones that are the cheapest. Just some tips – look for Styrofoam and transparent Christmas balls and decorate those with glitter and paint (the Styrofoam makes great snowmen!) Our very last thing that we made was an advent calendar out of toilet rolls. This picture isn’t exactly what we created but it is close enough!
Author: Sally Morton