Decorating for the holidays with your family is a timeless tradition that brings joy and holiday spirit into your home. But, that doesn't mean it can't also be frustrating. The holiday season gets earlier and earlier every year, with stores displaying their holiday merchandise well before Thanksgiving. And, have you ever noticed that it seems like all the stores carry the same types of decorations? The same wreaths, candles, knick knacks and centerpieces. So this year, why not make your own holiday decorations? The designs below are simple, inexpensive, and totally unique.
Wreaths, which can be priced high for retail, are actually very simple to make. Putting together a holiday wreath is a great activity to do with your kids.
Gather Your Materials - The best part about hand crafting your holiday wreath is that you can choose what goes into it. You will need a base for your wreath as well as decorations to sit on top. Fresh greens are a traditional base because they are cheap and perfume the air with that holiday scent. Focus on finding 1 to 3 types of fresh greens to comprise the base of your wreath. The easiest (and least expensive) way to find fresh greens is to take a stroll around your yard. Evergreen shrubs can take a pruning at this type of year, so simply clip back some bushes or trees you may already have. Good choices include pine boughs, holly, boxwood, ivy, magnolia tips, fir, and cypress. If you live in warmer climates, ferns and sprays of eucalyptus make an excellent base. You will need five 3-foot boughs or ten 8-inch clippings of each material (roughly 10 feet of total material) to cover a standard wreath. If your yard can't provide you with enough material, take a walk around the neighborhood and consider asking your neighbor with that impressive leland cypress or nandina for some clippings. People are usually happy to help, especially this time of year. If not, pop in on your local neighborhood Christmas tree stand. They usually carry plenty of fresh material (and will most likely give you pine trimmings for free). Place your cuttings with their ends in a bucket of cold water and store them in a cool place like your garage until use.
Next, collect one to three decorative elements for your wreath. This can include ribbon, berries, pinecones, feathers, bells, ornaments, faux flowers or poinsettia, or really anything you think looks good. You will need enough decoration to evenly cover the base of the wreath.
You will also need one roll of green floral tape, one spool of floral wire, and two wire coat hangers. Although you could probably do without it, having a hot glue gun is very helpful.
Create a Wreath Form - Now make a wreath form on which to attach the cuttings and decorations. Stretch out each wire hanger until it is a large circle with the hook on the top. Try and make as perfect a circle as possible. Then, lay one hanger on top of the other and attach them together with floral tape, making a sturdy ring. Cover the hangers with an even layer of floral tape.
Create the Base - Using sharp clippers, cut the fresh boughs down to cuttings of 8 to 10 inches. Then, use the floral wire to affix the clippings to your wire form. Continue adding and overlapping clippings until the form is completely covered. Make the top of the wreath extend upwards to hide the hanger hook. Layer the clippings in an attractive way so that all of the different elements are visible and evenly incorporated.
Add Decoration - When adding your decoration, hang the wreath on a coat hook so that you can see it at eye level. Using either floral wire or hot glue, attach your decorations in a pattern or simply scatter them evenly. If you have one bigger element like a large bow or silk poinsettia, attach it to the top of the wreath to further hide the wire hook. If you use glue, lay the wreath down and allow to dry for an hour before hanging it. Then you are ready to go!
Adding an original centerpiece to your holiday table instantly creates a festive atmosphere for a cheery dinner party.
Filled Jars - One of the most beautiful holiday centerpieces I have ever seen was constructed very simply out of a series of jars. Depending on the size of your table you will need five to eleven glass jars in varying sizes.
First, lay something down the center length of your table. It can be a table runner or just some simple pine boughs or other evergreen cuttings. Next, arrange your glass jars on top of the boughs. Place your largest jar in the center with the smaller jars scattered at either end all the way down the length of the table. If you are dining at a round table, arrange the smaller jars around the center jar.
Once they jars are positioned properly, fill each jar with an interesting holiday element. This could include battery operated Christmas lights, pine cones, cranberries, bark, candles, peppermint sticks, ornaments, evergreen leaves or cuttings, licorice, or anything else that jumps out at you. This centerpiece is unique because you can use any elements to fill the jars and can easily change out the materials depending on the holiday or occasion. Mix different fun colors and textures for a centerpiece that will keep them staring all through dinner!
Winter Branch - Possibly the most striking feature of winter is beautifully bare winter branches. For this design, you will utilize a winter branch on your table and accessorize it with holiday decorations. You can use one long winter branch, a few shorter branches that run the length of your table, or you can stack and layer winter branches on top of one another for a taller and more striking design.
First, head outside. Use a pair of sharp clippers to cut some bare branches from your winter trees. Choose branches that have depth and interest with lots of smaller branches attached. Strip them of any leaves and store in cool water.
Next, you will spray paint your branches. I find a simple color like silver works best, but red, gold, green, or blue will also do the trick. Or, for a more natural feel use a spray-on wood varnish. Let the branches dry overnight.
Once dry, use a hot glue gun to decorate your painted branches. Less is more with this design so be sparing. Attach a few tea-candle holders, silk flowers, artificial feathered birds, or autumn leaves. (If you choose to decorate with candles, be sure to use battery operated ones.) Let the hot glue dry for an hour.
Before your event, simply lay the branches down the length of your table on top of your tablecloth. You can spruce up the surrounding table by adding candles, snips of evergreen, or clusters of winterberry. Voila!
These easy holiday decorations make the rest of your home glow.
Mini Tree - Nothing says "Christmas" like a Christmas tree. Mini trees have become very popular in recent years and are great additions to a traditional tree, or even replacements if you won't be having a larger one. You can make your own easily and can use basically anything.
First, you'll need a cone form. Art supply stores carry both plastic and styrofoam forms and either works fine. Or, you can make your own by rolling cardboard into a cone and glueing along the seam with a hot glue gun.
Next, simply cover your form. You can use anything! Wrapping paper, ribbon, buttons, felt, music paper, pinecones, beads, glitter, shells, or pine roping are all great choices. Use only one element per tree to keep them simple and elegant. Hot glue works better for heavier items but use a glue stick for paper. Make a few trees using different materials on each so you have a forest of textures and colors.
Snowflakes - Snowflakes make great decorations because they are delicate and wintery without screaming any particular holiday. Your kids will love cutting out paper snowflakes and stringing them around the house. Use a glue stick and white glitter to make them extra special. If you want perfect snowflake cut-outs, follow a tutorial online for clean lines and cuts.
Popsicle stick snowflakes are also easy to make. You'll need a box of popsicle sticks, white paint, glitter, and a hot glue gun.
First, paint the sticks white. While the paint is still wet, sprinkle the sticks with glitter. Let them dry overnight. Next, use a hot glue gun to affix the sticks to each other following the pattern of a snowflake. Let them dry before using them to decorate. A big one makes a beautiful tree topper!
As much as we love shopping for the holidays, we also know that it's not what the holidays are all about. So, instead of buying something the same as your friends and neighbors have, take some time this holiday season to create something beautiful with your family. You'll look forward to unpacking these special decorations together for years to come.