One thing about professional magazines like Martha Stewart Living (don’t get me wrong, love The Martha) is that it can cost an arm and a leg to outfit a table, much less decorate a house. Not only do few of us have that kind of cash laying around, we have even less time to devote to the shopping, gluing, sewing, and accessorizing that magazine-perfect winter displays require. Here are some cheaper, and doable, options for home decorations for those of us who are short on cash but with some time to invest. And you can reuse these decorations year-after-year so this $50 is a one-time investment for most of these ideas!
Here is a list of what I bought for less than $50, and with these items I made: 1 wreath, a 10-foot string of garland, a centerpiece, a mantelpiece, and I wrapped all my presents. The wreath and garland I can pack away and use in subsequent years, so it’s a good investment. Here’s the list of items purchased:
- One grapevine wreath base
- Two stalks of fake flowers (which included some leaves)
- Five small balls made from vine bits
- Red raffia
- 4 spools of ribbon (two red, one aqua with silver dots, and one white, all on sale)
- Three stalks of fake red berries
And here is a list of what I either had on-hand, or got free:
- 1 brush pile (work with me here!)
- 1 spruce tree
- 1 glue gun
- Sheets of plain newsprint saved from a move
- A few sequins
- Needle and thread
- Some screw eyes (sold in the picture-hanging area of a hardware store)
- 1 loaf pan
- 1 half-gallon mason jar
- 1 string Christmas tree lights
A note on glitter and baubles: I did not use any glitter (except a bit on my Christmas cards) or glass ornaments this year — I have in the past and love their effect, but this season I wanted something more natural. The purpose of this article is not to tell you what to make, but to provide INSPIRATION for you to create your own. So if glitter and glass ornaments is what you fancy this year, have at it and enjoy your personal creativity!
This wreath (pictured above) took the majority of my budget, including buying the wreath, flowers and berries for its use. The other items (ribbon and raffia) were used elsewhere. But I will use this wreath over and over; one I made for my brother and his wife is still being used…15 years later!
It’s pretty simple to make…take the two purchased flowers and hot glue them to the bottom of the grapevine wreath base. Highlight them with some kind of “filler.” I could have used pine cones here, but the fake flowers came with leaves attached to the stems so I clipped them off the fake stem and used these for a touch of green.
I took the small balls made from vines that I purchased and clipped them off their stems. I then wove bits of red raffia into them to add a bit of color and hot glued two of these at the bottom of the wreath. I then added one at the top of the wreath as an anchor. I hot glued a length of ribbon at one end, and wove the ribbon around the wreath, drawing it under some of the vines, and attached it at the top (with a bit of flair). Lastly, the berries were snipped off their stems and glued in strategic locales. That was it…45 minutes later I had a wreath that would sell for twice that at a store, and probably not look as nice.
This is very simple to make if a bit time consuming; it took me an entire evening to make the whole 10-foot strand but I’ll use this year after year. I gathered the pine cones from my backyard; if you don’t have a spruce or pine tree handy, perhaps you can find a source for free cones during a walk to a local park or a neighbor’s yard. Picking items off the ground in parks and such generally doesn’t require a permit, but call your local city to see of they have any rules against it. And I bet your neighbor won’t mind if you harvest some cones if you take the time to ask.
To make the garland, take your pine cones and screw into the tops small screw eyes. From here, you can sew the screw eyes/pine cones to a length of ribbon 3″ to 4″ apart. I tried sticking a needle through pine cones to avoid the whole screw eye business, but I ended up bending and ruining a needle trying it; pine cones are woody (I know…duh, right)! You can control how long you want your pine cones to dangle by regulating your thread length. I then used hot glue to attach one large sequin to the attachment point on the ribbon. You can also add more flair here, like sewing on small bells or gluing on small red bows. The choice is yours depending upon the look you want to achieve!
This table centerpiece was made in a bread pan covered in tin foil. Ha! I then stuck a large candle I already had in the pan and surrounded it with bits of blue spruce branches, spruce cones, dead lambs ear flowers from my brush pile, bits of red raffia stuck in for color, and I wrapped the base of the loaf pan loosely in red ribbon. It’s pretty, was nearly free, and looks super nice on the table surrounded by a nice place setting and good food. And you can add whatever decorative embellishments you want: dip the spruce cones in glue and glitter, add small ornaments, use a few taper candles instead of a large candle, whatever you’d like!
This was easy and also cost a few pennies. It would cost you a few dollars if you didn’t already have a string of white Christmas lights. To make this I just loosely wrapped the string of lights in some white and red ribbon and jammed it all in the jar. You can also do things like add small Christmas ornaments if you’d like, or even tulle…try to use what you have on hand. Just remember that less complicated tends to look better if you’re not a professional, so keep it simple.
There are years when I am into silver paper and gold bows for wrapping, along with adding embellishments to the mix like small glass balls, greenery, and more. Then there are years like this year when all I wanted was something very simple; there is just as much beauty in “simple” as there is in “glamorous”…it just depends upon what you’re in the mood for and your personal tastes. This year I took plain newsprint I had saved from my move to Colorado and used the ribbon I purchased (and bits from the brush pile) to wrap lovely presents for people. And the wrapping coordinates with my other decorations, which is an added bonus!