Homemade Holiday Decorations
Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas
Last Minute Holiday Touches on the Cheap
Homemade Christmas Topiaries
Holiday Decorations Needed
My family and I have recently suffered a flood in our basement and as a result have lost everything that was stored down there. Among the ruins were all of my Christmas decorations that I have been collecting for 11 years. I would like some ideas on how to make inexpensive decorations to replace some of what we lost and that do not take a lot of time to make. Any ideas would be very much appreciated.
Mom's Homemade Ornaments
One year, my mom made cute decorations for my first Christmas tree in my first apartment and, 20 years later, I still have them. She bought styrofoam balls, maybe two or three inches in diameter. Cut small swatches of scrap fabric in complimentary colors (mine were browns and off-whites...it was the late '70s), maybe 2 inches by 2 inches. Used a butter knife or small flat-head screwdriver to shove the edges of the fabric into the Styrofoam, one after the next, all side by side, creating a patch-work quilt effect. It can be fairly messy, with random shapes and sizes, and still look terrific. She then shoved one of those metal Christmas-ornament-hooks into each ball, and tied a piece of polkadot ribbon into a small bow, at the base of the hook. Very cute and cozy, and easy to store 'cause they can be manhandled without damage.
Inexpensive Ideas for Decorations
Some easy inexpensive decorations are...
- Hot glue a ribbon to the top of a pine cone and tie a bow. The pine cones can be spray painted or left natural, depending on your decorating style.
- Make up a kids' dough recipe, cut out shapes with cookie cutters, pierce a hole in the top and bake, then paint. Make sure kids know they're not edible. Alternately, you can make actual cookies and let the family munch them
- large candy canes
- ribbons tied in bows throughout the tree
- silk flowers
- You can buy unfinished flat wooden shapes like hearts in craft and sewing stores for about $2-$3 per 50 or so. Paint them and personalize them, then either drill a hole to hand or hot glue a ribbon on.
- Ruined Christmas ornaments can be re-used... if the silk threads come off the plastic balls, paint the balls and glue ribbon or beads around them. Chipped paint on glass ornaments can be removed with some homemade solvents (a web search should turn up recipes, I can't remember offhand), and they can then be filled with dried flower petals or you can dribble paint inside and let it run in interesting patterns.
- You can use plastic canvas and yarn to quickly make little 2" boxes that look like presents. Simply use any stitch you like on 6 squares and then join them in a square and form a bow on top and hang. I stitch in an alternate color up the sides so it looks like they're really tied with ribbons.
- Small children's toys or booties can be sentimental ornaments and cute.
- Jewelry works, especially with Victorian trees. Anything from drop earrings to gold bracelets can add sparkle and charm.
- You can buy beads and fake pearls by the yard in sewing stores for much cheaper than garland in stores. Besides draping it the traditional way, you can cut smaller lengths and drape them over branches like icicles.
- Craft sites on the net can provide lots more ideas too.
Homemade Bread Dough Ornaments
1 1/2 c. salt
1 3/4 c. warm water
4 c. flour
Dissolve salt in water, add flour. Knead 2 minutes. Form ornaments & Brush with egg. Bake in 350 oven for 45 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool 15 minutes, then paint with acrylic paints and spray with liquid plastic to seal.
I made small mouse bodies from the dough, added a small head and ears. Bake together. Take a half walnut shell, line with cotton batting. After the mouse is painted and sealed, place him on the batting so the head and ears rest on the edge of the shell. Cut a small piece of fabric to cover most of the edge and the mouse, hot glue in place. Use twine or fishing line at each edge of the shell to suspend it.
You can use cookie cutters, anything at all to form the ornaments. If needed remember to use a straw to poke a hole near the top before baking to pass a ribbon through for hanging!
You might consider asking your friends to help. I once attended a "Help Decorate Joe's Christmas Tree" party, where the host provided construction paper, glue, glitter, scissors, etc., as well as a big pot of chili, and the guests made a bunch of ornaments which were then placed on the tree. We had a lot of fun and the tree had some wonderfully creative decorations.
Simple Cinnamon Ornaments
Here is a great recipe for homemade ornaments! They do require some time in the oven, but otherwise it's a pretty simple process and the result is worth the time.
6 T. applesauce
10 T. cinnamon
Mix ingredients to form a ball- if sticky or wet add more cinnamon- sprinkle cutting board with cinnamon- roll dough to 1/2"- use cookie cutters to make shapes- poke hole in top for hanging. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hrs. then turn oven off and continue to bake for 2-3 hrs. more. Use as ornaments or gift toppers.
My first stop for anything is the thrift shop. Why make Christmas decorations when they are available in the thrift shop, sometimes new, sometimes antique? Recently, we stopped in Maryland to see my husband's old Navy base. It was closed for good, but we found a church thrift shop where I bought antique hand painted Christmas tree balls - $1.00 a dozen. What a find! In my city, there are 5 thrift shops and the same number in the neighboring city. We say -if it can't be found in the thrift shop, we don't need it.
Run, don't walk to your nearest library. Look in their sections of Christmas books and you will have more ideas than you can possibly use along with patterns. Every year I check out a bunch of books just because they are fun to look through. Some ideas that were good were:
- Hang your Christmas Cards on the tree.
- Use the styrofoam meat trays and cut out hearts, stars, snowflakes. Cut candy cane shapes and wind with red bulky yarn.
- Use paper and fold origami birds
- Make paper chains from colored paper, either magazine pages or 8 1/2 by 11 regular paper.
- Cut out multiples of trees, snowmen, gingerbread men, etc of paper, paste together and hang on tree
- Use a buttons and bows theme and make different sizes and colors of bows and also hang pretty buttons
- Have a rustic theme - make little twig furniture, picture frames and cotton flannel hearts, stars animal shapes, and little birch bark canoes.(Be careful not to pull a lot of birchbark off of a single tree)
- If you have a bunch of beanie babies or other small stuffed animals, put them on the tree.
- Make icicles and stained glass ornaments from plastic. This was used prior to special sheets of plastic were made for shrink art.
- Trace hands on colored paper. Put a red heart in the middle. Or use mitten and stocking shapes, cut out and hang.
Add some old fashioned pop corn or cranberry chains and you will have a beautiful tree.
Things I've Done
I have several things that I have done for our tree and for others also that is very inexpensive, yet beautiful.
- I buy several rolls of reduced priced wire ribbon and make "lavish" bows about the size of grapefruit . I normally make them all the same color for emphasis. The ribbon can be cut down the middle thus doubling the number of bows. I have done them in a variety of colors and the same bows can be used for packages too if you get a good deal on the ribbon.
- I have bought a box or two of the PLAIN glass balls that are always so inexpensive. Then I decorate each ball using clothing glue which comes in a variety of colors. One of the most beautiful combinations is gold on silver balls. A snowflake design is easy to do too. The glue is the most expensive part of this, but one bottle will decorate enough balls for one tree.
- I don't' know the circumstances of the flooded basement, but if it was a isolated incident, perhaps the reader could have a "bring an ornament" party......just deserts, coffee/tea ......and a request to bring a simple ornament (bought or homemade).
Bobbie G. of Charlottesville, VA
Take the Next Step
- Take these holiday decorating ideas & make them your own!
- Visit our Christmas Countdown Calendar, a 5-week to-do list to help you prepare for Christmas.
- Stick to your holiday budget by saving every dollar that you can! Receive cash back on your purchases when you use one or more of these 14 favorite cash back shopping sites.
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