I love Christmas! The lights, the sounds, the smells. It is all beautiful to me. However, I know a lot of folks would like to go into hibernation and forget the whole thing. To them, it’s crowded shopping, exhausting hours of decorating, baking…in other words, lots of work and money. I would like to help you enjoy your decorating more and maybe even in the long run, save you some money.
One of the best ways to save money is to “make” your own decorations. Hold on, I know what you’re thinking, “How is this going to make my life any easier if I have to make my decorations?” Well, I suppose it might be a dream for many to call in reinforcements and let them do the decorating. Let’s save that thought for our daydreams and talk about how you can create beautiful holiday decorations and not break the bank.
First of all, think about spending time with family and friends, instead of money, as the perfect reason to get together and create decorations, and don’t strive for perfection. Love the camaraderie and make memories. Let’s start with a wreath or swag idea. If you feel like you want to buy pine, whether it be real or artificial, and actually wire pieces to a frame, go for it. I like to simplify it even more.
Start with a pre-made wreath or swag. Watch for tag sales, browse through second-hand shops, look at classifieds in your local newspaper or on Facebook Marketplace, or maybe catch a late season garage sale. Ask your friends and neighbors. You’d be surprised how many people have some much forgotten Christmas decorations in their basement that they would be more than glad to give you.
That task complete, choose a theme. It could be a color theme or you can choose from Santa, religious, a sports team, a hobby. Just about anything you can think of can become your focus for the decoration.
Once you have figured out what your theme is going to be, start collecting items to add to the pine. I am always throwing things into the so-called “junk” drawer at home. Check and see what you’ve accumulated around the house that you could use. You might be surprised what you will find. Next, peruse the aisles of your dollar store, discount outlet, or sales bins. Literally check sales bins in all stores. I have found many fun things at an office supply store or a pet store. No place is off limits.
While you are out collecting the goodies, pick up some floral wire and a glue gun if you don’t already have these. Once safely ensconced in your comfy clothes back home, put on some of your favorite music or a movie, grab a warm beverage and let your creative juices flow. I prefer wiring as many things as possible, especially if you are planning on using this wreath more than one season. And before you know it, you will have poured not only creativity into the wreath but love into a decoration that will likely get passed through Christmases to come. I have often loved the results so much, I make extras for gifts. And that is what I call multi-tasking, for sure.
I often hear clients talk about how depressing it is when the flowers stop blooming, the leaves on the trees are gone, and the skies are dark and dreary. To try and continue some color into your winter landscape, don’t pull out the flowers and put the window boxes or flower pots away. Keep the pots out and give them a boost with pine, berries, shiny beads, and twinkling lights. Now that your creativeness is in full swing, carry it on to the outside decorating. There isn’t any reason you can’t continue the favorite theme you used on our wreath or swag.
Often homeowners want something that will extend beyond the holidays. In that case, stay with different varieties of pine, real or artificial, and tie on berries and baubles just like you did with the wreath or swag. If a lot of the dirt came out of the receptacles with the plants, use foam to push the pine into. I prefer the wet foam when using real pine.
Adding lights has become so much easier now that battery-operated strands are available. I wasn’t originally sold on battery-operated lights, but they have become quite reliable. I like them because they have a built-in timer. Going out of town or getting home after dark? Battery-operated light strands will take care of themselves. This eliminates setting up a timer and extension cords, which can be a nightmare.
If you want to leave the pine, but don’t want the lights to continue after the holidays, it is only a flip of a switch to change it. I have found that fresh pine will last outside well into February and depending on the weather, sometimes even into March. By then, we are definitely thinking spring.
Before I nod off and sugar plums start dancing in my head, I want to tell you one of my favorite things to make for window boxes. It’s lollipops. These are easy to make and the supplies are inexpensive. You will need Styrofoam disks, dowel rods, cellophane, tape and a bow. Push the dowel rod into the Styrofoam disk. Sometimes I paint the rods white, but that is a personal preference.
Next, cut a piece of cellophane big enough to wrap the Styrofoam disk. You may need to tape some of the ends down along the sides. Instead of choosing a matte finish, use clear tape, and it will become invisible against the cellophane. Cellophane comes in a plethora of colors. Choose what makes your heart happy. Tie the cellophane under the foam disk to secure it in place. Add a bow, and boom – a lollipop!
I hope I’ve helped kick start your creative juices. Whenever I meet someone who says they are not creative, I believe they are being reserved because they think there is a right or wrong. That’s the beauty of creating. Choose colors that speak to you and throw caution to the wind. Don’t pay any attention to the naysayers if you want to have a cow-themed holiday. Moo-ve into your zone and have fun. Happy Holidays!
Make Your Own Decorations
Kathy Ray is Vice President of Pond Wiser, Inc.