Monday, November 14, 2011

There Are Better Ways to Spend Money...

I'm all for decorating for the holidays. Christmas tree, wreaths, doodads on the shelves. I'm sure my decor would be a little classier (and more expensive) if I were sans kids, but I'm not, so it's fun and inexpensive, lest Monkey finds his way up the bookcase to smash all my trinkets.

I am also extraordinarily cheap. Like, big time cheap. I can typically spend less than $20 and spruce up existing (and outdated) decorations, keeping the spirit while keeping back that extra cash that I will need in my Christmas Eve midnight run to the store because I forgot the nuts and tangerines for the stockings.

Usually about the end of the summer into early fall is the best time to hit up yard sales and Goodwill for old Christmas items to repurpose. Unless you are planning waaaay in advance and can think to make that run to the thrift store and hit up the clearance racks at Hobby Lobby in January. Don't be turned off because that wreath has a hideous bow or dusty clump of poinsettias on it. If it's in ok condition otherwise, it can be used.

So you gather up these items, either collected secondhand or from your (or your Mother's) attic and take inventory. Strip that old wreath and fluff up the branches. Clean the ornaments. Remove the cracked foam cranberries from the centerpiece. Once you have your basic pieces, you can begin to make plans.

Decide on a color scheme or theme. Are you going wintry with baby blues, silver and white? Elegant with gold and cream? Traditional red and green? Do you have a child's room to decorate with fun snowmen? Or are you incorporating a favorite piece into your new theme? Remember the KISS rule: keep it simple, stupid. :D Less is more, unless you are going for an over the top Victorian look or you have waaaay more time/space/money than I do...

Now, start gathering your additions. A spool of brightly colored wire-edge ribbon is usually a must. Clearance or dollar rack ornaments are a great find if they fit your style. Do you have old ornaments with missing hangers? Don't toss em! They can be great on a wreath.

Before you begin buying artificial flowers and such, take a look out the back door. Pine trees, holly bushes, magnolia trees, and hedge apples are all usable. Several bunches of magnolia leaves can fill out that skimpy wreath. Pinecones look great, especially with a touch of fake snow on the tips. Hedge apples in a bowl with large glitter flakes sprinkled on top are a super cheap and catchy table piece. Remember to grab a can of clear spray paint at the store. A coat on your glossy outdoor additions will make them stand out, as well as extend their use.

Are you not good at making bows? No problem. Weave that ribbon throughout your greenery, twisting the wire branches around the ribbon to secure it to the base. Then add some pinecones and a few holly sprigs, even some of those old ornaments. Are the hangers missing? Just insert a branch through the hole at the top. Keep in mind that odd numbers are more aesthetically pleasing. Three holly sprigs, five pinecones, and seven small ornaments, for example. Then hang that sucker on the door! Voila!

That favorite childhood ornament that you can't bring yourself to toss can be a great focal point for a centerpiece. Find a foam block at the craft store, and start adding greenery. Place the ornament or whatever it is you are incorporating slightly off center. Taper candles from the dollar store at varying lengths (just cut them off, silly) can be secured using florists putty.

There are so many more things you can do, using these basic concepts. Experiment and get creative! Once I (finally) drag out my projects for the season, I'll add photos as I repurpose and revive this year's decorations!

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