Friday, January 5, 2018

Five Holiday Decorations that are Free or Cheap

I love holiday decorations.  I have a friend who puts up her Christmas tree in October, and it's beautiful - at least in pictures.  I admire that she can have a decoration up for so long and that it continues to sparkle and be pretty for all of that time.

I can't do that.

First, I live in a smaller-than-average house, and since we just managed to declutter anyway, devoting any space to a seasonal thing takes a lot of effort.

Second, I live in a smaller-than-average house with limited storage.  We have a lot more now that we've created a 64 square foot (ish) space for storage under our bed, but we still don't have a lot of space to store seasonal decorations.  So, everything needs to fit in one plastic tote.

Finally, I just don't have a lot of money for decorations that are used once a year and then, shoved into a dark corner.

We do have a tree.

A couple of years ago, when we were still in the midst of our remodel, and we had even less space than we have now for a tree and I lamented that we weren't going to be able to have a tree that year, my very good friend bought us a 3' tall artificial tree.  It was the most amazing gift I've ever received.  It doesn't take up a lot of space, and it stores well under the bed.

Judging from the displays at the store, holiday decorations, alone, are a huge business.  But we don't have to be sucked into crazy expensive decorating to make our spaces feel festive.  Here are five tips for decorating that are free or cheap.

1.  Paper Snowflakes

It has long been a tradition here at Chez Brown to adorn our windows with paper snowflakes.   I learned how to cut them when my girls were young, and as they grew older, I was sure to teach them the technique. 

Our snowflakes are free, except for the cost of the tape to affix them to the windows.  We use recycled paper, and, mostly, we can't see the writing. 

We have the snowflakes on windows on the two sides of the house that are visible from the road, and I get just as much pleasure looking from the inside out at my pretty snowflakes, as I do driving up to my house and seeing the little whimsy on the windows.

2.  Origami

We had our first holiday party this year after many years of not inviting folks over because the house was such a topsy-turvy mess.  In an attempt to make things look more festive, but having neither the desire nor the ability to run out to the Christmas Tree shop and buy a bunch of stuff, we opted for some homemade decorations.  

My daughter has recently discovered the art of paper folding, and she made dozens of beautiful art pieces that we attached to strings and hung from the ceiling.  In fact, a huge paper crane is flying over the bathtub.   I'm just going to leave it there for a while, because it looks pretty. 

3.  Lights

During the holiday season there are certain items that are just ridiculously cheap.  From a frugal standpoint, lights are one of the biggest bangs for one's buck.  They transform a room/space almost immediately into something sparkling and magical. 

From a prepper standpoint, lights are actually pretty useful, because in addition to the plethora of LED string lights that need to be plugged into an outlet, there are half a dozen options for battery-powered lights.  

For less than $5, I was able to find several very small strings of LED battery-operated lights AND a couple of battery-powered candles.  Neither put out a lot of light (certainly not enough to read by - especially with my weak eyes), but they're fine for things like using the bathroom.  The bonus is that we have more lighting options during a power outage, but we also have these pretty, twinkling lights to add to our holiday decor. 

4.  Candy Canes

For more years than I can count, we have used candy canes on our tree as a decoration, and it's fun to have our children and guests pick the decorations off the tree and enjoy the treat.  

At less than a dollar for a dozen, it's a hard decoration to pass up, and who doesn't love a good pepperminty treat around the holidays?

5.  Real Greenery

This time of year, every where we look, are people making and selling holiday wreaths.  While I do love to support local businesses and entrepreneurs, making one's own wreath is easy and can be free.  In addition, finding the greenery to put on one's wreath can be an adventure on its own.  Who doesn't love a brisk walk through the snow packed woods?

Plus there's the added benefit of harvesting evergreen boughs that also makes wonderful, healthful teas for this time of year.

What are your favorite, free, holiday decor traditions?

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