So, seeing as my options were A: cheap, but kind of gaudy and nasty things from cheap shops or B: really expensive pretty things from specialist shops, and that neither of those offered what I wanted, I set about making my own decorations. These were specially made for small spaces and tight budgets, so you may expand what you do based on your own decoration budget and available space. I made a wall-mounted tree mural, a few wreaths and some wreath-in-a-jars for about the house and for friends and family. Here’s how to make them.
Our house isn’t tiny, but with all the furniture in the corners, radiators and paintings, there isn’t much space downstairs, especially not away from the fire and out of the cat’s reach. Therefore, I opted to try and make my own tree mural instead. I got 6m of tinsel, 2.7m of shiny stuff and 8 baubles from the 99p store; another 2.5m of tinsel, some beads and 3 more baubles from a charity shop and some pinecones. I used a decorative flower instead of a fairy or star. We chose red and white because those are Jon’s favourite Christmas colours.
1: Mark the points where you want the tree branches to be.
2: Measure the tinsel you will need for the tree. Go and get tinsel and ornaments.
3: Attach the tinsel to the points you marked.
4: Hang ornaments from the tinsel.
Total cost: £5.50.
I love Christmas wreaths. They’re seasonal, beautiful, can smell lovely and are good for indoor or outdoor use. I made three: one for our house, one for Jon’s mother and one for a friend’s house.
1: Make or find a base. I bought a cheap tinsel wreath at the 99p store. You could also make a hoop out of firm, bendy branches, make a wire ring or use something else that is ring-shaped.
2: Forage or buy decorative items. I used foraged holly, a variety of conifer branches, pinecones, some berries and the bows that came on the wreaths. Other items are artificial plants and flowers, ribbon, baubles, tree ornaments or dried plants. You can also use gold, silver, glittery, white or red spray paint to great effect.
3: Get some wire and some tools to manipulate it with. I chose jewellery pliers and bendy, thin gardening wire.
4: Layer your base. DO NOT make my mistake and use holly as a base. It makes it very hard to layer pretty things on top when you’re being spiked. Choose tinsel, fake leaves, conifer bunches and ivy for your base. Layer until it looks right. You may want it thick or thin. Attaching with wire every 3 or 4 inches leaves a rounder, more natural, more robust base.
5: Build into it. Add more base materials, balance the colours and textures, get it looking just right.
6: Decorate. Add berries, flowers, pinecones, etc.
7: Add spiky things. Last of all, anything sharp.
Total cost £1 and a bit per wreath (assuming I will use the rest of the wire elsewhere).
Christmas “Terrarium” Vases.
These are beautiful and a novel and adorable way of making Christmas bouquets. We made two, but I’d love to gather some more deep jars and make more.
1: Find some large, clear jars. We used empty Yankee Candle jars.
2: Collect some bubble-wrap, take snow or some shredded polystyrene.
3: Find some cones, little snowmen, dry leaves, etc. Anything that could be a good little ornament.
4: Forage some hardy Winter branches and plants.
5: Pile the “snow” item in the base of the jar. Add your ornaments and arrange until they look right.
6: Create the bouquet around the ornaments. Add more until the jar is tightly packed. Maybe tie a bow around it or decorate with Christmas snowflakes and candles.
Total cost: £0.
Little Winter Bundles.
Small bouquets for around the house. They aren’t too gaudy, need no maintenance and leave a festive feel for very little effort. Plus, because they’re so simple even the most klutzy crafter or the youngest child can make a really pretty one.
1: Find a pretty vase. We’re using lab sample pots because we’re tasteless nerds. :p
2: Gather some artificial or genuine conifer, Winter flowers and berries and holly.
3: Arrange 4 or 5 sprigs of various sorts as best you can in each vase, maybe tie a sparkly or Christmassey bow around the vase.
Total cost: £0.
I may be making some more decorations or we may now be happy. Perhaps some strung-up branches of holly and pinecones, or a place to keep our cards? I’ll likely just focus on our Solstice dinner, a few Christmas surprises for Jon (shhh! surprise ❤), a proper Spanish New Year and Epiphany (including a Reyes Magos cake).