Ho-ho-homemade is the key to cheap, but pretty, holiday decorations. I mean, have you seen the prices on real Christmas wreaths? Here are some ideas we gleaned from various sources to help you put some sparkle into your holidays without busting the budget.
Bonus: Most of these ideas are easy enough to do with kids – a good way to keep them busy during those endless hours leading up to Christmas morning.
1. Do you have a couple of boxes of plain colored glass Christmas tree balls sitting around? Brush them with a bit of glue and roll them in some glitter. Voila! New decorations.
2. Take those plain colored glass balls (or the new sparkly ones) and fill a glass bowl or large vase and place it in a spot where it will catch the shine from a lamp or other light source.
3. You can buy bags of pine cones for a song – or you can rescue them from the woods or a neighbor’s yard (with permission, of course). Dip them in some gold paint and add a bit of glitter (or not) and use them in holiday arrangements, centerpieces, or even wired to Christmas tree limbs.
4. Make a wreath out of bows. Evergreen wreaths may cost a fortune, but you can buy a Styrofoam ring and a bag of cheap bows, hot-glue the bows onto the wreath and you have a colorful wreath – best used indoors. Or, make a homemade wreath from plant materials.
5. “Wrap” your sofa’s throw pillows like gifts, just using wide ribbon, to make them look like Christmas packages. Put a bow where the ribbon crosses. Or, if they’re blue or orange or paisley or something un-Christmassy, wrap them in some cheap fabric first (red or green or gold, maybe?).
6. When was the last time you really used those cookie cutters? Don’t let them go to waste. Make ornaments from them. Spray paint them gold or silver (or not). Then take some of last year’s prettiest Christmas cards (you know they’re in a box somewhere), lay a cookie cutter on a pretty image and trace the outline. Cut it out and pop it into the cutter. Or use favorite family photos instead. A gold thread or thin wire “hanger” completes the project.
7. To make a candy cane vase, take a Mason jar or straight-sided glass or vase and glue candy canes all around it, curved tops facing out. Tie with a red ribbon. Fill with an artificial or real poinsettia for a cute centerpiece.
8. Line your walk or patio with luminarias – also called farolitos. This Hispanic tradition was once exclusive to the Southwest, but Latino populations all over the country have adopted it. You’ll need brown paper sandwich bags, sand and votive candles. Fill each bag with an inch or two of sand, then nestle a candle into it and light the candles at dusk. Be sure they are not near anything flammable, just to be safe.
9. Make festive candy dishes by taking your stemmed glassware (such as martini or margarita glasses) and dipping them in beaten egg white, then sugar (plain or colored). Fill with holiday candies and set them on the dinner table for after-dinner nibbling.
10. Make holiday placemats with old Christmas cards. You’ll need recycled card faces, 11-by-17-inch paper, glue and clear contact paper. Cut images from last year’s cards, arrange them on the paper, glue them in place and then “laminate” with the clear contact paper.
11. Make a lovely centerpiece by filling a gold or silver tray with cranberries, then nestling white tea lights into the berries and lighting them. No one has to crane their necks to see other guests around tapers or other tall centerpieces.
12. Turn your front door into a giant Christmas gift by wrapping it as a package – covered with gift wrap and ribbon and a bow. Now that’s the way to welcome guests.