Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas Decorations on the Cheap Part 3: Make the Ordinary Fun

When people ask me what the one piece of advice I can give them when it comes to decorating with class but cheap, I always tell them, "Keep it simple".

And by that I don't really mean just shove a Christmas ball into a bowl and stick it on your table and call it good.  I mean use what you have, buy a few key pieces if you want and use those as focal points, but the big thing is don't buy into the mindset that you have to have your home looking like a Pottery Barn catalog with every season and that you have to spend a lot of money to get a certain look.  It just isn't necessary.

Try to figure out something that helps you to show your own unique style and personality and just go with it.

For instance, when talking about key pieces in decorating, seen up above is the top of our antique bar in our den.  In the center stands a hurricane vase (I think that's what it's called *laugh*) that I got at a yard sale for .50 a while back.  That vase stays put all year, but during the different seasons the contents change.  In the Spring/Summer I put small sea shells in it as I go with a coastal type of theme in the den for Spring and Summer.  In the fall I put pine cones mixed with some Indian corn and put some fall picks sticking out the top. 

And above is what I do for the Christmas season/winter.  The contents are some vintage glass ornaments that I love but will not be put on my Christmas tree because I don't want them to get broken.  In between the ornaments, to help protect them from breaking in an earthquake and also to add depth to the vase, I put a bunch of pine cones I harvested from my yard that I reuse every year just for this purpose.

Don't have a vase you can use for something like this?  What about a glass bowl placed in the middle of your kitchen table?  Don't have a clear glass bowl?  How about a mixing bowl you aren't using with some Christmas ornaments in it?  Even a plastic bowl with some unbreakable ornaments could look pretty festive.

On the right is a quart mason jar I had in the den and I just placed candy canes from a Christmas tree past on it (I bought certified peanut free candy canes this year and tend to reuse candy canes from year to year, so I had some extra).  On the left I put some spools of Christmas ribbon I use for Christmas wrapping (for the most part they are old Costco ribbon spools that I bought at used stores for 1.00 or less through the years).

In front I put a red cinnamon scented candle that I've had since...wow since my husband and I got married I think (14 years?).  I normally keep it in my china cabinet for emergency lighting "just in case", but I pull it out at times like this for decoration purposes.  The steel platter is normally in my den floating around and I needed a place to put the candle so it didn't stain the bar, so voila!  Instant landing zone.  The pine cones I bought at a used store in a bag of big pine cones for like .75 years ago and I float them around from place to place to decorate during the fall and winter months.  My son loves to play with them, so I'm thinking one day soon I'll have to buy more, but for the time being they are surviving.

And here is the area where the "buy for the next season after the holiday has passed" thing comes into play.  All of the above things were purchased at 90% off at different stores.  The houses light up and are all Peanuts related (well Snoopy's dog house doesn't light up).  My kids love them and they were 1.00 to 3.00 a piece when I bought them.  The plate I got at Fred Meyer years ago on clearance and we use that as our "Santa cookie landing zone" for Christmas Eve.  My daughter has already asked if she could inherit the plate some day, which I told her we'd talk about it if it survived till she was an adult.

And above you can see a few Christmas frogs that I have (I used to collect frogs hard when I was younger...still think they are neat, but I don't collect them anymore *laugh*) and think are really cute.  They too get put into storage and pulled out with the Christmas decorations.  Most were gifts given to me years ago that I just reuse from year to year.

 Another area where I decorated with everyday items for the holidays when it came to the ribbon.  It also leads into my next piece of advice...buy used if you can get it cheap!  I have never bought ribbon new and have found new spools at the used stores for .25 to 1.00 as the years have gone by.  I finished off the top of the shelf with an antique German glass bird that I found at a used store for .25.  I collect German glass ornaments (they are now all in storage because, kids), so when I saw the little bird missing it's tail I had to grab it and bring it home.  Unlike other birds in my collection, which I LOVE (birds on your tree mean joy you know.  I have thought they were wonderful since I first laid eyes on them when I was 12), this bird had an actual hook system to hang on a tree instead of a spring loaded clip to attach to a tree branch.  So, I figured I could put it somewhere OTHER than on a tree.

I brought it home, put some lace carefully into it's tail with a knitting needle to replace the horse hair it used to have and then placed it in a small little bird's nest I had left in my Christmas decorations.  Every time I see it it makes me smile.

And here's one more example of using what you have to decorate.  I just placed some of my collection of Christmas cookie cutters into the same glass jar I used at Halloween to place candy in on my sideboard and then placed it over on my bread box.  It shouts "festive", but does double duty as both a practical storage solution for my cookie cutters for the time being and also as a neat Christmas decoration as it shows off different cookie cutters.

There are a lot of different ideas you can do with cookie cutters to help you decorate.  I saw a tip to turn them into napkin rings (just tie a string around the cookie cutters or if you have the metal frame type just put the napkin through the middle of the cookie cutter), tie them to some string to make into a little garland for your kitchen...get creative! 

I have a few other tips for another post, but here's hoping you might have gotten some ideas from this one!


  1. All great ideas, thanks for sharing.

  2. I love the jar full of cookie cutters. Simple, and so cute!

  3. My mother had metal cookie cutters like that! I'm buying many gifts from the thrift shop this year.
    Blessings for a happy year!
    Harvest Lane Cottage

    1. My mom had cookie cutters like that too. She even had some that were my great-grandmother's. I LOVED those cookie cutters so every time I see them at the used stores for good prices I buy them to add to my collection :).

      And blessings right back at you!