This is a guest post on Christmas Decorating on a Budget from Stephanie Keeping.
I remember one Christmas when we hardly had money for anything, not even a tree. I felt so blue. Then I felt bad for not being thankful about the blessings I did have: I wasn’t starving; I had clothes to wear and a house to live in.
I determined to do something holiday-ish.
Since green wasn’t one of my favorite colors at the time, I didn’t have green fabric or paper to work with—but I did have a silky, green nightgown. That became our “tree”. I arranged boxes and tin cans on a table; I turned the nightgown inside out and fastened the neck and armholes with a rubber band. Next, I arranged the nightgown over the pyramid of cardboard and tin and pinned a few lightweight baubles around: Oh Tannenbaum!
That tree isn’t my favorite Christmas tree I’ve ever decorated, but it was my best attempt at the time with what I had to work with. I actually take pleasure in looking back at that earlier version of myself. Somehow I made the holiday brighter…probably because of my choice to appreciate what I did have.
Work with what you have on hand, too. Lights, colors, scents, sounds and tastes all combine to produce a holiday feast for the senses. Tree lights, candle light, even a variety of light levels in a room, can produce “atmosphere”. Baking generates some heavenly aromas, but a pan simmering with orange peels and cinnamon will give your home a nice whiff, too!
Most people have at least some Christmas ornaments tucked away. Try pairing them with non-Christmas items for a new look. Have a seasonal ornament exchange with family or friends; that way several people get a different look without spending (just make sure you’re clear if the ornaments return to the original owner at season’s end AND don’t loan the pieces that you are sentimentally attached to). Goodwill and the dollar stores usually have a selection to pick from; paint and glitter can transform a less-than-favorite ornament. Multiples of anything makes a greater statement than a single item, but sometimes that single item can be showcased very effectively depending on how you present it.
Here are some of my favorite ideas for Christmas decorating on a budget:
1.) Use these free, downloadable Christmas printables! There are gift tags, subway and wall art, advent calendars, entire party sets, ornaments and more, in a variety of colors and styles. You’re sure to glean inspiration and products you can use immediately.
2.) Pick a theme and then shop your house – use kids’ colorful socks, stuffed animals and small toys; look in your kitchen and use interesting shaped utensils, pair them with multiple salt and pepper shakers (especially if they’re clear glass or a great color), cinnamon sticks and dried fruit slices; costume jewelry adds automatic sparkle; hobbies provide inspiration, too, for example, roll remnants of yarn into balls and nestle them in branches; photocopy favorite family pictures and tie them with ribbon.
3.) Do you air dry flower bouquets you receive like I do? They look wonderful on a tree! Even if you haven’t been saving dried flowers this year, fresh carnations, baby’s breath and spray roses aren’t too expensive and they can be cut and placed in tree branches while they’re fresh and still look terrific as they dry throughout the holiday. Take a nature walk and see what might be worthy of your tree. Do you have shrubs in need of a haircut? Free greens! Pinecones are generally easy to come by and can be used au natural or gussied up with glue and glitter or paint. Some seed pods have interesting shapes and can be used for angel wings. Seashells and sea glass look beautiful on a tree.
4.) Make paper flowers. There have been tons of Pinterest tutorials on making flowers, garlands and wreaths out of newsprint, kraft paper and crepe paper. Pair them with white snowflakes—either paper, crochet or dollar store variety—for a beautifully calm presentation.
5.) Make a textile celebration. Use ribbon. The curling variety is not expensive and it can be used in long, trailing tendrils or as short corkscrews. A tree loaded with ribbon curls is something to see! For a more contemporary look, one year I used bright chenille, aka pipe cleaners, and rolled them into shapes. They easily attach to tree branches. I grin every time I think of that tree. Strips of colorful fabric tied on branches produce a rustic, county look.
I’d like to be able to report that I’ve never had another lean Christmas; I’ve since been able to buy all the decorations and presents that a body could want…but it wouldn’t be true! There have been seasons of plenty (yeah, I like that best!) and times of wistful longing, but I have found an attitude of thankfulness always brightens things up. Add a little imaginative creativity and see what love can create for Christmas!
Stephanie Keeping is a mom of boys, a blogger, and an Etsy-preneur. She celebrates boyish charm at Spaceships and Laser Beams, where she talks about all things boy and birthday party. You can connect with her on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest,Twitter and on Etsy.
To read more from Dawn, visit Blogging Mom of 4.