Decorating for the holidays can be exciting but can also get expensive. Kathleen Wilson, the Budget Decorator, shows us how to decorate for Christmas and New Year's without spending a lot of cash!
8 cheap ways to do it up right
For a beautiful outdoor wreath (or indoor) without spending a fortune on craft supplies, try to remember you need not cover the wreath with decoration to make it special. Try just a few craft store "picks" in one corner, with a big bow. Or get some wire star garland (69 cents at my store) and just wrap it loosely around the wreath. Hot glue some found pinecones to a corner, or try some old wooden ornaments. You also don't necessarily need to buy an expensive evergreen wreath to decorate, and inexpensive grapevine or straw wreath can be dressed up as well.
Spray paint clay pots and saucers a metallic gold for sparkling coasters and utensil or candle holders for the season. If you have extra lights after stringing the tree, wind some through your potted plants for a special way to bring the sparkle throughout the room.
For a simple but beautiful centerpiece, set three or five candles of different heights in the middle of the table on a tray, then surround the bases of the candles with seasonal items. Low cost ideas? Cuttings from your Christmas tree, or from evergreen trimmings in your yard are a great first layer. Then how about shiny apples, glass ornaments turned hanger side down, found pinecones, nuts, wire star garland and leftover ribbon.
By the way, the same idea can be used for Thanksgiving, just substitute fall leaves, squashes, mini pumpkins, etc. Buy those bags of cranberries when they go on sale for $1, and fill bowls that hold pillar candles, or fill a simple glass of water with them to just a few inches below the top, and put a floating candle in. Nuts can work the same way, but they tend to be more expensive. However, if you have a nut tree in your yard...
Hollow out the center of an apple as a candleholder, and tuck a few tiny greens in between the candle and the apple. Just be sure the flame never comes near the twigs. A little lemon juice sprinkled on the cut part of the apple will help keep it from browning as much.
Christmas patchwork quilt
Have a lot of scrap Christmas fabric from years past? Use it to make a simple square patchwork quilt as a throw for the couch, and add a lot of holiday spirit to the room! (Hint: use old blankets as batting -- if you don't have any, check your thrift stores. Just be sure to wash in hot water, and dry at least 20 minutes in your dryer. White flat twin sheets on sale make great backing fabric.)
Cut two of a simple holiday shape from felt, then sew or fuse them together, decorate with permanent markers or fabric paint (if you wish), and hang all over the house! Some very simple shapes could include stars, packages (glue or paint on some ribbon), mittens, snowmen, boots, Christmas trees, stockings, candy canes, gingerbread men (trace them from your cookie cutters) and the list goes on! If you have a rustic theme this year, it's not necessary to embellish them at all!
Place a few inexpensive glass balls in a bowl and embellish with a few sprigs of greenery or some leftover ribbon. If you don't have an extra bowl (it is the holidays, after all!) try decoupaging a box with leftover Christmas wrap, or cover with a little fabric and glue. Take down your pictures and wrap them like a gift, then hang them back on the wall for great holiday cheer! You don't have to do this all around the house, how about just in the entry, or maybe the dining room?
Place votive or pillar candles on a small mirror used as a tray. Tie sprigs of greens or cinnamon sticks on the candles with ribbon or raffia. Be sure the flame is far enough away from the embellishments!
Festive paper trees
Make paper trees out of a square of pretty paper, preferably use a paper that is a little stiff. Simply roll the paper into a cone, and glue the edge with a hot glue gun. Perhaps some gold glitter or squiggles of paint to dress them up, and they will be beautiful on your mantel or as a centerpiece with greens. Try experimenting with different colors and textures...this would be a great place to use leftover cardstock or handmade paper! You could also do this with a piece of stiffened fabric.
Tie greens or ornaments to the chandelier with a little Christmas ribbon, just make sure they don't hang low enough for any candles on the table to catch them on fire.
Above all, be creative, and have a wonderful holiday with those you care about!