I cannot believe it’s December already! Someone told me once that the older you get, the faster the years go by, and I’m sad to say that I am finding it to be true.
There is always good to be found, however – this year we will be a family of five at Christmas for the first time! I cannot wait to see what it’s like when the monkeys are all tearing through wrapping paper and playing with their new toys. Sweet Ella was born in February this year, so even though it will be her first experience with the chaos that is Christmas, she will be almost a year old and should be able to enjoy the crunchy paper and the fun new gifts.
That being said, having three kids means a lot of money flying out the window this time of year, and I’ve been on a serious search for some beautiful, easy and INEXPENSIVE ideas of how to decorate our home this season. I’m not too keen on overdoing the whole holiday decorating thing… I love seeing the way over the top homes, it’s just not my style personally. Having three kids means I need to keep it pretty simple. I don’t have a lot of time (or money) and putting in too much effort just is NOT worth it when little hands are sure to destroy it before it gets safely packed away until next year.
So, after much investigation, web surfing and crafty experimentation (I know, my “job” is sooooooo hard), I am pleased to present you with:
The Ten Best, Easiest, Simplest, Most Beautiful & Inexpensive Ways To Beautify Your Home At Christmastime!
(I might need to work on that title…)
This list was compiled with much care to ensure that you are not subjected to ANY of the following:
– extreme messiness/stickiness/clean up
– wood cutting
– the gathering and/or adhering of a million small pieces of ANYTHING (ie: glitter, buttons, googly eyes, beads etc)
Are you with me? OF COURSE YOU ARE! Without further ado, heeeeeeeeeere we go!
10 – Wooden Letters
This is an amazingly simple and CHEAP craft that you – and the kids! – can do, with a million options to choose from. You can paint them, cover them in fabric or scrap book paper, you can wrap them in pretty Christmas wrapping, you can add embellishments like ribbon or buttons or bows, or you can do none of that and let the natural wood bask in all its glory. Even your display options are endless – hang them with ribbon, stand them on a ledge or shelf, glue them all together to form a solid piece, affix them to your wreath or tree or stand them in a window to share the ‘JOY’, ‘HOPE’ or ‘HOLIDAY’ spirit. Seriously – for letters that cost $2 a piece at Wal-Mart, you really can’t go wrong here!
9 – Peppermint Candies
Not only are they pennies to buy and taste fantastic, they can be added to pretty much ANYTHING to create festive decorations! Glue them all around a candle, or onto a dollar store picture frame. Put magnets on the back and use them on the fridge! You can glue them all around a foam ring to make a wreath or cover a wooden letter with them and have the first letter of your last name on the front door. Heck, even displaying them in a glass dish is beautiful… and they are cheap to replace when they quickly “disappear”.
So cute! An inexpensive foam ring, painted red and covered in pepperminty goodness!
8 – Tree Ornaments
It’s crazy to me that such SIMPLE and lovely ideas can be so completely overlooked until just ONE person thinks of it and then we go, “OMG!!! I am SO doing that!!” (Um, hello.. that should be Pinterest’s slogan.) The simplicity of single ornaments hanging from just about anywhere is p.e.r.f.e.c.t.i.o.n. It’s such a ready-made idea, too! They already have little metal rings for hanging; ribbon or any kind of thread or rope will fit right through. They come in a multitude of colours, shapes and sizes, and you really can’t find a project that will cost less. Hang them in a window from a curtain rod, on coat hooks, lamp shades, wall sconces, light fixtures, stair case banisters, photo frames, in front of mirrors, on door knobs… heck just put a ribbon up across the top of an open entryway and hang them from there! Christmas tree? Pfffttt… who needs one?!
Ribbons, ornaments & a window… that’s all you need!
7 – Glass jars
Ohhhhh we love our gorgeous glass jars, don’t we? Tall ones, skinny ones, short ones, fat ones… “SPILL THE WIIIIIINE, DIG THAT GIRRRRRRL!!!” (oops.. sorry. Musical interlude!) Glass jars are incredible because SURE you can buy them at Pottery Barn or Pier 1, but you can ALSO reuse ones that you have at home or buy them at the Dollar Store or even Goodwill and Value Village. They can be used to display yummy Christmas treats, candies, pine cones or ornaments. You can make snow globes with the kids, put the ingredients for cookies inside to give as gifts, or slip a string of lights inside to give a room a beautiful glow. Easy. As. Pie.
I literally have a cupboard full of vases I never use… *cough cough*… hear that, Alex?
Love the varying shapes and sizes!
You can even glue them onto an old candle stick and fill them with chocolates like I did here…
Yup… I made that one ALL BY MY OWN SELF! So proud. There is something to be said for taking a few things that cost a dollar or two, and turning them into a beautiful, lovely display piece for your home that people would think came from a fancy store! I love vintage, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE anything “shabby chic”. I often wonder if 10 or 20 years from now I will look back on my love of all things distressed, and cringe at what horrible taste I had, but I just can’t imagine it!! Right now my pet project is finding old, cheap candle sticks and painting them shades of white and cream with Annie Sloan chalk paint. (If you don’t know what that is, you need to look it up immediately – it will change your life.) Once painted, I sand them and distress them to make them look old and fabulous, like I bought them at an amazing estate sale or something. (I have a seriously overactive imagination, I know..) Then I glue glass jars or canisters onto them to make the sweetest most gorgeous little stands!
Note: this is NOT an exclusively Christmas project by any means. You can spruce up a boring bathroom by using these to hold cotton balls or even lipsticks and nail polishes. They made everything look awesome, and each one costs me less than $3 to make. Brilliant!
6 – Canvas ANYTHING
My friend Sarah posted a photo of her mantle the other day on Facebook, all done up for the holidays and looking absolutely luscious. As I looked at the red canvas with the words “Let it snow” written in white, it occurred to me that this was TOTALLY something that someone could do on their own. I panicked, thinking she likely spent $40 on this beautiful piece of art at HomeSense, but nope – she painted it herself! FABULOUS! This is the sort of thing that people are selling on Etsy, and in reality it takes some paint and some patience to create something just as wonderful as what Sarah made. Why limit yourself to what the stores are selling? Doing it yourself allows you the freedom to chose the wording, colours, writing styles, just about anything. Practice on some paper, or just freestyle, baby! The world is your oyster! … your canvas? Whatever. Go create your masterpiece!
My friend Sarah’s gorgeous artwork and mantle!
5 – Candy Canes
Oh my gosh, do you people have any idea HOW MUCH YOU CAN DO WITH A CANDY CANE? It’s actually ridiculous. I started contemplating all candy cane related ideas when I saw this photo online:
I know, adorable right? Then I got to thinking, and searching, and I found so much more. In addition to hanging them from a ribbon strung across your window/mantle/doorway, you can make a candle holder, use them to hold place cards or photos (your child’s pic with Santa would be SO cute!), make a vase for some Christmas-y blooms or even just hang them from all the doorknobs in your home for a little pop of colour.
(Not to mention all the delicious things you can do with them to really put your baking over the top, but that’s another post!)
4 – A Christmas Staple – The Staircase
What house would ever be ready for the Big Man without a set of stairs done to the nines?? I think there might be a law regarding this.. I am unsure. While the traditional go-to has always been the weaving of the greenery between the spindles and around the banister, I myself have always preferred the “draping” method. I simply use zip ties or string to hold up each section, and I find that the garland (be it real or artificial) sheds a LOT less when you aren’t pulling it through and back again repeatedly. Whether you add lights, ornaments, bows, beads or (GASP) tinsel, you can’t go wrong with this simple and easy project. You can have the kids do strings of popcorn, or use this area to hang all of their Christmas artwork each season… I know some mamas have a hard time defiling their gorgeous, magazine-worthy trees with the, um, interesting crafts that their kids bring home from daycare or school… so this would be a great option and make them feel like not only are their crafts special, but SO special that they have their very own display area! (This is not a problem in my house… between my kids’ additions and the ornaments that I myself made 30 years ago, our tree looks like it was dragged in off a street corner, and I freaking LOVE IT! lol..) Because we don’t have a fireplace in our home, we also hang our stockings on our staircase!
The “draping” method that I prefer:
One new idea that I’ve seen this year is to have bunches of greenery and decorations attached vertically to every few posts. I am completely obsessed with this look!!!!
Not sure you can pull it off without going with real greens, and that might jack the price up slightly, but seriously it might be worth it. It’s just too gorgeous!
3 – Foam Wreaths
Now I have seen these things at Michaels and the Dollar Store time and time again, and never gave them the time of day – until now. It might not be of interest to me to get all leafy and artistic with greenery and bows and floral displays that you would see in a traditional wreath, that’s a lot of effort. But little did I know you can do SOOOOO much more with these things! All you need is some wire or pipe cleaner and you can arrange these in just about any way you choose. A fun idea for the kids and a very simple and frugal way to make a sparkly and totally unique wreath for your home!
I’m usually a fan of the red & green, but this is totally fabulous – I might convert!!
If sparkly isn’t your thing, try painting them and adding ribbon, or wrapping them in yarn or twine…
2 – Card Display
I ran into trouble a few years ago when we moved into this house – no fireplace. I miss it for SO many reasons, but one of them is that I had nowhere to display all the wonderful cards that come flooding in this time of year! We have a really huge front window, it’s one of the reasons I went for this house, and eventually I proudly came up with a solution. I simply took a long piece of twine, let it dip slightly in the middle, and tied it to either end of the curtain rod. Then I bought a bag of clothes pins at the Dollar Store and clipped all the cards up as they arrived. In the end, I liked this even better than displaying them on the mantle! They didn’t all blow over every time someone opened or closed the door, and there was no overlapping.. they were all there for us to enjoy all season long. In recent years I’ve seen a few other great ideas for card display, and I especially love how these combine function AND fashion… they serve a purpose and act as art all in one. Displaying your cards can cost just pennies, and still add so much to a room!
A pretty ribbon in the window, with key rings to hold the cards – so smart!
Another fantastic idea.. a simple ribbon on the cupboard doors…
Grab some clothes pins and you’ve got yourself quite a festive kitchen!
1 – Chandelier Wreath
I gave this one the coveted #1 spot because I think it will make the biggest impact in your home for the least effort. Pretty much everyone has a hanging light fixture somewhere, and they are usually designed in such a way that you can simply lay garland around it and add bows, ornaments or pretty much anything at all to REALLY create a stunning centre piece for your table – just a little higher up than usual! A lot of people (myself including) forget to look UP when planning decor, and there is so much untapped space to be utilized! Imagine enjoying Christmas dinner with family while this gorgeous wreath hangs above. Not only beautiful, but functional too… centre pieces take up a lot of prime real estate on a Christmas table, and can often block you from seeing the person across from you.
What a simple, stunning solution!
I hope that these ideas have inspired you to get out there and get creative this season… it really doesn’t need to be overwhelming or expensive to make your home festive and beautiful!!