A Classy Christmas on the Cheap and Easy
Trying to avoid tacky while on a budget? Need to spruce up the tree without breaking the bank? Freaking out with only a few days left until Christmas? I've got your back.
Trying to pull off a holiday with a reasonable amount of elegance without turning Christmas into stressmas? Short on time and already wondering how to keep the kids entertained during school vacation? I've got great news! With this last minute holiday plan, your children will be eager to jump in and help. Bonus? Even hard to motivate teens will be digging these ideas!
Beaded tree ornaments.
Most kids love beading. So head to the bead and craft stores for some supplies (or a jewelry supply outlet if you have access to one – wire is really cheap there) and turn your teens loose on a variety or two of beaded ornament hooks, wire and bead angels, beaded crystal wreaths and a simple snowflake ornament or two. Your choice of beads will directly impact your class factor. No primary colored plastic allowed. This does not mean you need to spring for Swarovski crystal. Simple faceted glass with gold and silver toned spacer beads will certainly do the trick and still give you lots of light reflecting power.
Centerpieces and accent displays.
A tray of decorative bulb ornaments or beaded fruit and pillar candles looks nice. So does this lighted ornament bowl. You can turn the kids loose on this one (minus the lighter for the young ones) and know that it will still come out reasonably well. If you feel like yours need some supervision around the more breakable ornaments, be standing close by in the kitchen but try to let them have their independence here. No skill is really required. Just a reasonable eye.
Looking for a more organic element while still keeping the class factor in mind? Here's a simple hack for scented pine cones you can do with a nature walk, some spray glue, a leftover plastic shopping bag and a spice mix from your pantry. Fill holiday baskets and bowls with them around the house for visual charm and affordable aroma therapy. You can also gild pine cones and mixed nuts with glitter or silver and gold spray paint. These look great in decorative containers or on a homemade wreath, which I'll get to in a bit.
One super slacker strategy is to find a larger bulb or globe type ornament, take off the end cap and turn it upside down on the top vertical branch where you would normally place the angel. If you've already got one that looks as nice as you'd like it to, fantastic. If you don't, spray the entire thing with adhesive and sprinkle with a fine glitter. Or, spray paint it a matte gold and glue on some smaller craft jewels. Both of these are projects a pre-teen can pull off successfully.
Another elegant way to go uses a budget decorating element Sarah tipped us off to in her recent article. Decorative wire ribbon. This link shows how to make your own full, robust tree topper bow with two to four “tail ribbons” that flow down the entire tree. The secret to great shaping? An empty toilet paper roll. Score!
Christmas card gift tags and package accents.
I have to admit, it's hard for me to find recycled Christmas card ideas that I actually like. It just seems that so many of them are contingent upon having the just the right card so the project doesn't look “off”. These things actually do it for me, and can be done easily with nearly any card. Simply cut out only the portion of the recycled holiday card you find attractive in whatever size you need. The only trick is to make sure there is no writing on the back. Cut it out using edge trimmer scissors from the craft store for a little extra zip. Use a hole punch to make a place for the ribbon to go through, and you are all set. Just write the “to” and “from” info on the back with your favorite calligraphy pen.
Another great thing you can do with the cards if there is writing on the back of the prettiest part is to cut it out anyway and glue it to the center of the top of a package wrapped with solid color paper. This provides a nice look and is great for mailing, as there is no bow to get squished.
OK, so this year I am actually enjoying the Victorian velvet and satin tree skirt that's been in storage. The one I got lucky and scored on a post holiday super sale of massive proportions and had to pack up before ever using. The slacker strategy I've used every year prior to that? Fabric remnants and unexpected house items. You can get higher on the elegant scale than you might think using this technique. Tapestries, iridescent silk scraps and a beaded sheer curtain panel on clearance are all items I've used before. Oh, and a holiday table cloth. (Think satin stripe or damask in a gold or cranberry color from a Marshalls or Home Goods store.) A little creative scrunching will take you a long way here. Trust me.
A scented candle.
Just one. In a scent that celebrates the season such as evergreen, gingerbread or sugar cookie. Preferably a soy one with a lead free wick. I like to do this in the kitchen and go with tea lights in reflective crystal bowls in the living room and other areas. Picking just one accent candle will set a tone with the scent and not break the bank.
No need to drape one out every window of your two story colonial if pennies are tight. After all, you've got heating oil to buy. One great wreath on the front door is really all you need. Less is more. Here are directions for a red twig wreath that'll last you all winter long, a traditional evergreen wreath, and a how to video on making an elegant door swag using greenery and a wire hanger. You can also use the greenery accent strategy in other places. The picture at the top of the article shows how I decorated our mailbox at the lake house last year.
Don't forget the spirit.
Instrumental holiday carols from your favorite CD, a reading of the Christmas story, a classic holiday movie or two, and you're good to go. Also, nothing says Christmas like cookies. If your kids are too young to turn loose on sugar cookie stars with royal icing and edible silver beads, focus on a seasonal flavor and go with either a basic gingerbread drop cookie or a chocolate chip type of cookie dough with alternative inclusions such as white chips and cranberries. Not quite grown up enough? Check out this recipe for simple holiday peppermint bark. Your toddlers will love smashing up the candies for this one. Remember to include enough cocktails!
Some other articles you may find helpful during the holiday season? How to go green in a classier way than you might expect during the holidays, how to party the whole year long by taking advantage of sales others might not think of, and a peek at DIY gift options for the youngsters in your house.