on the cheap: christmas decor!

if you are like me, i have just watched my decorating budget go from $ (on the $ . $$ . $$$ scale) to free. as in time for trash to treasure, as in time to take super cheap castoffs from goodwill and yard sales and try to make them into something lovely for the home.

so i'm starting a series of projects called "on the cheap" where i will try to take older things that you could find cheaply at a yard sale or or goodwill, etc, sometimes combining them with inexpensive store-bought things to try to make a whole new thing! luckily, when it comes to christmas, a big part of the festive-ness comes from the magic of twinkly lights, which are fairly inexpensive and definitely easy to find!

after two moves in the past 18 months, it would seem that we have gotten rid of a significant amount of our christmas decorations! i'm not usually one who decorates every single room in the house, so i had less decorations in general than probably most people would consider normal. but this year, i had the hankering to go ALL OUT. decorate every room. overload the mantle. make homemade stockings. maybe throw some themes in there... but, i needed to to it cheaply! [aka, completely free if at all possible]. a lot of these ideas assume you at least have the basic glass ball ornaments, but even if you don't they are super cheap at wal-mart/target/kmar- the martha stewart ones at kmart are nice! i had to stock up on a few more, all i saved were the teeny tiny ones!

this is what i came up with:

peppermint centerpiece!
-glass bowl [if it's footed, you can tie a ribbon scrap around the bottom]
-large plate or platter, glass or silver would be pretty
-red balls [i used three sizes, $2.50 per box at wal-mart]
-starlight peppermints [$1.something a bag at target]

put your bowl in the middle of the platter. fill the bowl, starting with the largest balls, then add the peppermints and the smaller balls at random until the whole thing is filled. scatter a few peppermints and small or medium balls around the plate. add ribbon around the foot of the bowl if it has one, or add some squished up into the bowl- that would be pretty too! if you don't have the candy you could just do balls with swirls of ribbon in the bowl. [ps the "snow" underneath is a pashmina-y type scarf i got from target last year!]

paper merry christmas garland!
-1" and 2" round punch [or you can cut out circles- one for each letter or space]
-patterned christmas wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, or old christmas cards
-1 piece of cardstock
-your computer printer
-about 2-3 feet of small ribbon
-normal small hole punch

punch 2" circles out of your wrapping paper/old cards/scrabooking paper. print out 'merry christmas' in your favorite font and color on the white cardstock in your computer printer, then punch/cut out each letter into 1" circles [i have these punches in both sizes and loooove them] stick your letter circles onto your patterned circles with double stick tape or photo squares [i use photo squares for everything]. punch two tiny holes with the normal sized hole punch at the top of each patterned circle and string them one by one onto your ribbon! hang on a shelf, mantle, bookcase, or right across the middle of an empty wall!

[ps- don't limit yourself to merry christmas... try rejoice, noel, peace, merry & bright, joyeux noel, or 'for unto us a child is born' if you're feeling a longer garland!]

wall photo tree:
i originally got this idea from seeing an advent calendar where all the little pockets were arranged in a tree. i thought the same thing would work with photos on the wall! it was really easy with some little 3m photo and wall-safe sticky squares. i also made a little mini version on the fridge!
i also grabbed a little package of really cute ribbon bows meant for present toppers and added them to a few of the picture frames on our black and white wall. now they look like cute little christmas packages! super easy, cheap, and cute!
and honestly, you can't go wrong with some christmas balls in fun, unexpected places... they're probably the easiet way to add a little color and cheer all over the house!
off now to wrap some presents, and maybe make some stockings! i've had homemade monogram stockings on my mental "to make" list forever, i'm determined to actually get it done this year!

merry christmas!


  1. Oh. My. Goodness. I'm completely in love. Completely inspired. You ARE AMAZING! My favorites are definitely the peppermint bowl and the bird cage full of Christmas balls. (I love me some Christmas balls.) One request though. Can you add some far away shots so we can see the entire mantle at once? And also....WHERE do you find the time?? (: Love you talented sista!

  2. So creative! I love the photo christmas tree wall and the bown on your pictures. You've been able to add holiday cheer without going overboard. I love the subtlety.

  3. thank you both! alisa, more photos to come :)

  4. I agree about using Christmas balls in unexpected places, they look beautiful! I especially love them in the birdhouse!
    What a lovely home you have! Thanks for the tour!!


i love to hear your comments or questions! i'll try to respond as quickly as possible, or you can email me at leafandletter[at]gmail.com :)



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