Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Decorating on the Cheap

I have to begin this week’s post once again with a disclaimer: I am decidedly NOT a decorator. It’s not just that I don’t have any knowledge of decorating and have never even perused a decorating magazine; it’s that I have very little interest in the idea of decorating. Don’t get me wrong – I completely appreciate someone else’s ability to decorate a house or lawn or child. It’s just that I take no joy from my own efforts. In fact, I have nearly no interest in the idea of it.  

Occasionally, I do rally the troops hidden in my brain and carefully choose a new paint color or arrange a few flowers, but for the most part there is no theme, style, or strategy to the way my house, lawn, or children look. Although I do wish the lawn were decorated with a lot less garden jumble and child flotsam. The children prefer to decorate themselves without my assistance. (And they do seem to have a unique “style” all their own. My oldest was even a trend-setter in kindergarten when the zip off pants were all the rage. Each day at some point during the day, he would zip off the bottom portion of one of the legs of his pants. Not both, just one. This made him look like a pirate because his little white leg resembled a peg leg. It was cute until other children started doing the same and parents complained when pant legs were lost. That was the first call home from a teacher.) 

When it comes to holiday decorating, I’m even worse. Most of the time I just don’t see the need for it. I stick to minimalist efforts for the most part. I used to only put up Christmas decorations (most of which were wedding presents – what’s with that?). But then my children guilted me in to buying Halloween and Easter decorations. And then my youngest visited a friend who decorates as if her home is a finalist in Extreme Makeover: Holiday Decorating Edition. He came home incredibly disappointed in his mother’s meager efforts. Since then, I’ve tried to step it up a bit.  

Here are the guidelines for my holiday decorating:

  1. It has to be cheap (as in expense, not value).
  2. It can’t take up much room in the off-season.
  3. If it’s made of perishables, all the better.
  4. It has to be tasteful and/or meaningful.
With that in mind, I’ll share my best tips.

Supplies that can help:
-A big spool of wired red ribbon
-Evergreen branches (if you don’t have some in your own neighborhood and you’re local, feel free to cut some of ours. We have gobs of evergreen trees and I’ll even loan you my clippers.)
-A box of shiny ornaments (dollar store and walmart are good sources, although I found some at the Goodwill)
-Pinecones (These need to be collected through out the year. The ones lying around on the ground now are undoubtedly mashed and moldy)
- Christmas Cards (the ones that you receive in the mail)
- Children's Holiday Craft Projects (What? You didn't save them?!)

Tie pretty red wired ribbon on anything and it becomes a holiday decoration (including the dog). I’m pretty horrible at the ribbon tying, but this much I know – start with one end longer if you want your bow to be even and use wired ribbon because it’s incredibly forgiving and anyone can make it look good (even me).
 Utilize nature. It’s free. Evergreen trees and bushes are everywhere and they forgive a little trim this time of year.
Pull the dead stuff out of your porch pots.
Fill it with evergreen branches arranged artfully, tie a colorful ribbon on it, and set it on your front porch.
Add evergreens and a ribbon to a wreath you already have.

Attach greens to porch lights, mailboxes, signs (be careful not to allow them to touch bulbs).
Fill a bowl with bulbs, pine cones, candy canes or peppermints (if you use mints, tell your children they are fake or that they’re left over from five years ago so they won’t beg you for them on a daily basis. If that doesn’t work, tell them the dog had them in her mouth.). Again, add a ribbon if possible and it’s instantly festive.
Add white twinkly lights to anything – an old sled, a porch decoration you already have, a chair, a mirror, whatever happens to be lying around (not the dog).
Hang up your children’s Christmas crafts from years past. I love this one. It’s my favorite thing to put up each year. I love the fingerpainted wreaths made from their tiny handprints and get a sentimental chuckle out of their signatures on the back of each creation.
Find a clever way to display your Christmas cards. We tape them up as we receive them around the doorway in to the kitchen. You could also hang a string like a clothesline along a wall and clothespin them to the line. (no pictures because we haven't gotten any Christmas cards yet - C'mon people!)
One last idea that will not only decorate your house, but make you feel as thought you've got Christmas under control: Wrap the presents that aren’t for the short people in the house and place them in a nice decorative pile in a window, under the tree, or as a table centerpiece.
This morning it was nearly 60 degrees here. Bizarre, but lovely. I spent a half hour decorating my porch. It cost me $3 for the spool of wired ribbon which was on sale for half price. I spent $6 on a short string of white LED lights. Everything else was free. 

Bottom line: Holiday decorations don’t need to cost a fortune or take up half your basement. If I can do this, you can do this.


1 comment:

  1. LOVE THIS BLOG! Love the photos. I will be linking to this in my next blog post and forwarding it to friends.

    You may not think you are a decorator but you have simplicity down to an art. The front porch looks great.

    The instructions to pull the dead plants out of the pots was funny.