We need more Christmas decorations – said no one ever. Well maybe the pagans during the winter solstice. Ever since the time of the pagan festivals we have felt the need to bring light and festivity into our homes during the coldest darkest month of the year. While the pagans may have been content with a few laurel wreaths with lighted candles and some boughs of holly strung through the drafty halls of their medieval castles, we have evolved into a much more sophisticated consumer of all things bright and shiny. Christmas decorating has become a big business all on it’s own.
It wasn’t always so. This was the Christmas decorating of my childhood.
Does anyone remember stringing cards along the wall or decorating the windows with a can of artificial snow? Christmas trees were simpler too (and real), and their decorations were a hodgepodge of bright colored baubles collected over the years,
and often made of glass. Of course every year one would break and there was sure to be a sibling argument over which child would be blamed? If you look closely you can see that plastic angel on the tree below.
I still have that family heirloom, plus the fuzzy candy canes, a glass partridge from the 1940’s I inherited from a great aunt and the tin-foil covered star my dad made in 1932 when he was seven, which always held the place of honor at the top of the tree.
Last year I went on a downsizing frenzy and cleaned out my whole house (watch for January New Years Resolution blog). I got rid of tons of tacky decorations, except for a few favorites for sentimental reasons. I organized what was left in the basement storage area so it was easier to find things, and patted myself on the back for having all that space. Then at an outdoor craft sale in Sept, I saw this adorable little ladder – it was a husband and wife team, he did the wood, she did the decorating, and for only $15. The husband told me they didn’t make any money on it, they just liked to craft together – how could I resist?
I spiced it up with a red plaid bow – 2 boxes of ribbon – Winner’s $10 – because our topic is how to save money while Christmas decorating, or rather how to justify buying new decorations when we already have way too many…
Things were fine until December…but that is always a dangerous time of year – the stores are full of such glittery sparkly things. I did splurge on a Lemax skating rink (Canadian Tire $45) in mid-November as I had always wanted one, but was unable to wait for a sale as previous years they had sold out. I realize you can buy these online, but you can’t actually see the little figures whirling around.
I placed the rink on a silver placemat from the dollar store ($2), and wove some ribbon lights ($11 Michaels with 40% off coupon) around the base, (ribbon lights are also good for along a fireplace mantel), then I sprinkled some artificial snow around. ($2 dollar store).
My other splurge was a glittery crystal Christmas tree (like a lava lamp), ($50) which I had bought as a present for someone, but when I went to wrap it up, it looked so nice I decided I had to have one too. It is important to be charitable to yourself at Christmas too.
I bought a glittery green garland ($4 – dollar store, where else, by now I own stock), for around the base, but see how pretty they look together on my dining room table, and the best thing is they can keep small children (and big ones) entertained for hours. There is something mesmerizing about light and motion.
Thrift shops are good options for wreaths, (someone else’s clearing out project), especially if you will be putting them outside. I found these three wreaths for $2 each, and put one on my front door, with some ribbon. (Can you have too many wreaths?)
But the blue wreath, (75% off after Christmas Sears), was too pretty to put outside. Continuing with our thrifty theme, these outdoor wreaths for the picket fence were $5 each, with an ornament and some plaid ribbon added for a festive touch.
I have been known to stock up on bird cages at Michael’s when they go on clearance, (so much so that once a five year old visiting my house for the first time, asked me if I liked birds.) You can do a lot with bird cages, both outside,
and inside – this one was $25 at a Big Sisters craft sale, but I am sure you could make it for less….just add some greenery, a bird and a string of lights.
I saw this idea at the entrance to a restaurant last year – take any festive container (I used a blue bowl to match the balls), line it with a strand of lights, and add some pine cones and Christmas balls.
My biggest scavenging find (literally), came when my friend offered to help me do a Christmas urn with some greens she had foraged in the woods – those years of buying pathetic looking greenery for $7 per bundle are over! I would say her results were much more professional than any of my previous attempts. She used real berries on hers (which had quite a horrible smell), but I used artificial on mine.
If you can arrange a little snow, it looks even better….
There is a reason those partridges prefer pear trees…..shelter from the storm.
Not that much snow……maybe this much….
Just enough snow to make it look pretty but still allow Santa to get here.
Anyway, I hope this gives you some ideas for cheap and cheerful Christmas decorating.
One final thought, when I was in Canadian Tire early in the season I saw the nicest Nativity scene.
I was tempted, but it was huge, $400 and I didn’t own a church, plus there were no animals or shepherds, but then I remembered I already had the nicest nativity scene ever. My dad built the barn for it in 1952….that is his homemade star on top. Remembering the reason for the season.
May all your presents be as glittery and shiny as the star in the east.