This will be Chris and my's first Christmas together. In the years we've been dating, we usually spend Christmas eve/morning at our respective houses in Alaska. But this year we'll be in Hawaii together.
I was SO giddy as we brought home our first Christmas tree. (ok, it's from Target and it's no...Noble Fir, but it's perfect for this stage in our life) That excitement soon dissipated when I pulled out the only 2 ornaments we own, stuffed inside an old Christmas lights box...
They pretty much sum up our relationship. Love and hot sauce.
but back to the matter at hand. I have no decorations.
Ideally, I'd like to slowly collect and curate my holiday decor.
From a very young age I knew I would someday have a "rustic, classic Scandinavian Christmas" collection. Oh yeah, I was that little girl glued to the HGTV channel. Forget weddings. I was dreaming of interior design projects and holiday party planning.
So needless to say, at 24, I'm itching to get started on that dream.
But we have a problem:
Decorations are expensive! And (love him to death, but) the fiancé is frugal.
I just have to put my creative thinking cap on. Because...look at this tree.
(Note the sad little Sriracha ornament)
I'd like to think I have a lot ingenuity and resourcefulness by nature. No, I was never a girl scout, but I did grow up on a rural island with no mall, no department stores, no Michaels.
Just as you learn to protect yourself from a bear attack...
(Wear bells or sing and make a lot of noise. Carry bear spray. If you see a bear do NOT run, and for God's sake, do not climb a tree! If you get attacked put your arms behind your neck and play dead..)
...whoah, I forgot what I was blogging about there for a second.
Anyways, just as you learn to survive in the Last Frontier, you also learn to make do with what you have; to be crafty and resourceful.
So without further adieu - here's how we decorated our tree for free
using only pantry and closet goodies we had on hand.
Chris is hardly a crafter, but the threat of me having to rush out and buy a truck load of decorations at Target (Let's be honest...I have no control when I step in that place), seemed to be reason enough to help...a little bit. I threw in a bottle of wine to sweeten the deal. It was a fun night!
Here's what we had on hand:
And here's the handmade goodness. I was really determined to have decorations that felt natural and earthy. This fake tree needed a lot of life! Below you'll find a breakdown of what I did, along with some tips.
And glory hallelujah, a much improved "after" Christmas tree picture.
Let's get started.
These little ornaments were a last minute idea I had. I'm so glad I went forward with them, because...look how cute! They're my favorite ornament in the bunch.
All you do is cut out the center of the coffee filter. The larger
you cut the hole in the middle, the smaller
of a rosette you end up with. Basic adding and subtracting there for ya.
Then simply accordion-fold the inside edges a bit more (use the filters natural ridges to guide you. Be careful not to fold the outside edges though! You want those to remain curvy and ruffle-y. Like a beautiful woman in a Rococo painting:
|Fragonard, The Swing, 1767|
(Can't turn off the Art History nerd..sorry)
Anyways, here's a little demo picture.
Sometimes it's easier to finagle the coffee filter into the rosette shape if you cut the filter in half, glue one half at a time, and then glue it back together, but you certainly don't need to!
Just a dab of hot glue in the center to completely bind the hole together, and some baker's twine for a hanger, and you're ready to go!
I finished mine off with loads of white glitter, because I never know when to stop/ have no self control. Bonus: the glitter definitely made the pieces a lot sturdier.
Ok, moving on. That explanation took far too long...
These are a fun and simple project. We used Martha's cinnamon ornament recipe (find it here)
. Our whole tiny house still smells so good.
We didn't have a rolling pin, but we found that beer pint glasses work just as well...can you tell what our priorities are? ;)
I used this recipe
for making these dried fruit ornaments. Simple project, and again, the house smelled so lovely as we were drying these.
The only thing I'd suggest is to make sure to cut the fruit thin and to leave enough time to dry. Living in Hawaii, I don't think they'll ever dry out completely, but they look and smell wonderful right now.
My family is Danish, so I grew up making these wonderful little Christmas hearts. Just seeing one reminds me of home.
Now I happen to have metallic gold & polka-dot red scrap paper laying around because I'm just that kind of girl (don't open up my closets, they're scary).
But you could do this with kraft paper, white copy paper, old books, pretty magazine images, photocopies of pictures, etc. The woven pattern makes it really fun to mix types of paper. There's lots of great tutorials out there like this one
, or this one
This was also a last minute ornament idea. If you check out the Dot & Margo shop
you'll notice I love bentwood pieces. These orbs are a popular Scandinavian bentwood ornament, so I wanted to try my hand at making them from paper. The larger orbs are made from 4, 8 inch strips; the medium orbs are 6 inch strips; the tiniest one is made from 4 inch strips.
So, so easy. I really loved them even more when I hung them on the tree. They take up a lot of visual space, but are still sweet and delicate.
These two are pretty self explanatory. If you're not the commitment type, I'd think long and hard about whether you really want these on your tree. They do take a bit of time, but it's time well spent. The garland gives such a vintage and homey feel to the tree.
- Floss is your friend with the popcorn garland as the kernels move easily along it. And surprisingly, the popcorn kernels are not as fragile as they look! I even stepped on the garland and only one kernel broke (Ya..no spacial awareness/ coordination over here...)
- I wanted the newspaper chain to be delicate and not overwhelm the tree, so it was important to make the paper chain small. I cut 1/4 " thick strips that were roughly 6" in length. I used a glue stick to bind the ends because I thought tape would be distracting.
- If you're going for that natural, vintage look, try to avoid a lot of color or images on your chain links. I wanted my paper chain to look as if it was from a vintage book, so I made sure to choose strips that were primarily filled with text:
Now all I had to do was load up the tree!
Ahhh, basking in that crafter's high while gazing lovingly at our first tree.
So that's that. None of these projects are new or revolutionary, but I'm really pleased with how our tree came together with stuff just laying around the house. Proof that you can have a special & beautiful holiday celebration without all the cost.
Now all we need is a tree topper. You can rest assured I've already got a project rolling around in my head for that...
Mele Kalikimaka from Oahu!