Reinventing Holiday Décor With What You Already Have

I’ve had a deliciously indulgent holiday so far.

I’m not talking retail therapy or calories, mind you.  Rather, I’ve taken some time to have fun decorating my own home this year with a bit more care and mindfulness – something I haven’t done in a while.

Determined not to buy any more “stuff” which ultimately takes up more storage space and leads to more waste (money and trash) and all the stress that goes with it, I began digging through our Christmas boxes and thinking about how I could “reinvent” some of what we already had.  And I’ve had a blast doing it.

So, in the spirit of the season, I thought I’d share some my own holiday décor re-purposing…..

Rustic Christmas TreesRustic Christmas Trees
What I already had:

  • Styrofoam cones
  • Brown packing material
  • Gold star ornaments

What I bought to complete the project:

  • Burlap ribbon (out of the $1 bargain box at a craft store)
  • Tiny colored artificial berries (cut from two very small spray clusters purchased for about .69 cents from a craft store)
  • Hot glue sticks

This was a piece of cake.  I just hot glued on the brown packing material all over the cones, wrapped them with the burlap ribbon, stuck in the berries, and glued the star ornaments on top.  I also made use of this natural looking packing material I’ve been saving for just the right project.

Fringe Benefits trees“Fringe Benefits” Trees
What I already had:

  • Styrofoam cones
  • Leftover decorative curtain and upholstery fringe/trim

What I bought to complete the project:

  • Nada

This was even easier than the other two trees.  I simply wrapped the cones from top to bottom with the trim, gluing at the ends only so the trim can be removed without any damage later should I decide to use it for another purpose.

Styrofoam you say?  Look – I’m not a fan of Styrofoam packing material or disposable dinnerware because they get used once and never again.  But I’ve used these four Christmas tree cones many times and will continue to do so.  As long as they maintain their basic shape, they can be recovered again and again with everything from boxwood clippings to fabric scraps.

Package wreathPackage Wreath
What I already had:

  • All the little boxes – some of which were simply the small flat boxes that over-the-counter cold medicines come in.
  • Some of the ribbon
  • Wire wreath form
  • Scrap white cotton material to wrap the wire wreath with so the wire wouldn’t show behind the packages

What I bought to complete the project:

  • White wrapping paper
  • A couple of sheets of semi-transparent scrapbooking paper
  • White and blue ribbon (less than $5.00 total)

I got the idea for this wreath off the internet by Googling “blue holiday décor” because of the robin’s egg blue color of my dining room.  This project was a bit more time consuming than the others because of all the gift-wrapping involved, but it allowed me to create the focal point for my dining room from materials I already had.  Like Styrofoam cones, wire wreath forms are a good investment for those who like to switch up their holiday décor.  You’ll use them over and over again.  I bought this one about 10 years ago and have used many different ways.

Trifle Dish of Christmas BallsTrifle Dish of Christmas Balls
What I already had:

  • Trifle dish
  • Loose crystal snow powder

What I bought to complete the project:

  • 12 secondhand Christmas tree balls, purchased from a Goodwill store for about $3.00.

Cheap, secondhand Christmas balls are widely available from flea markets and thrift stores if you just look.  It doesn’t matter if they don’t match, because you can paint or cover them to meet your own purposes, which is exactly what I did with the 12 cream-colored balls I picked up at a Goodwill store.  I simply thinned out some blue enamel paint that I already had, stirred in some sparkly snow powder, and haphazardly painted the balls.

Paper Quill OrnamentsPaper Quill Ornaments
These paper quill ornaments are a family favorite.  Most Christmases, I make one or two new ornaments if I have time.  I never use anything I don’t already have.  Literally, all you need are strips of paper and a tiny bit of white glue.  Patience and nimble fingers help, but this is a total freebie that keeps various scraps of paper out of the trashcan.

Paper quilling is a very old decorative art form developed by nuns who clearly had more time on their hands than most of us.  Admittedly, these take a bit more time and effort than some of the other projects, but what I love about them is that you can elegantly decorate an entire Christmas tree using scrap paper and tablespoon of white glue.  Cut, roll, crimp, and glue–that’s about all there is too it!  And you are only limited by your imagination.

This isn’t one of those “how-to-craft” blogs, so I won’t go into detail about the steps to make these little ornaments.  A quick Google search will give you all the instruction you need.  Suffice to say, this is one of the most resource friendly decorations around, and once you get the hang of it, making them is not only fun but also therapeutic.

I Needed That
I loved the fact that these holiday decor projects actually helped “de-clutter” my home.  What was just sitting there as “scrap” a few days ago has now been incorporated into real holiday accessories that I will use over and over again.

Just as important, I had fun.  My imagination was ignited by the idea of using what I had.  It also created mental boundaries that somehow made decorating less stressful for me.  Unlimited choice is highly overrated and ultimately leads to bad decisions and waste.  On the other hand, I believe certain self-imposed limitations can actually be quite cathartic.

I know this little bit of holiday creativity fed my soul and spirit in a way that buying new decorations never could have.  Like many professional writers, I’m a keyboard jockey most waking hours of most days.  Using my hands to create something other than the written word was like shot of Vitamin C.  I needed it.

3 Responses »

  1. Like the text very much. Ornaments are easy to make, kids would enjoy being involved into the projects :)

  2. Very clever and fun way to ‘reuse’ during the holidays! Thanks for sharing and I agree with Maria, this is a great project for the whole family! Merry Christmas!

  3. Trish, You are so right that we can decorate without buying new stuff that just takes up more storage space. I also wrote about having a decorating party ( where you can invite friends to bring along those ornaments they’ve gotten tired of, and by exchanging your old & tired stuff for someone else’s … you’re recycling, cleaning out and saving money too.

    What’s nice is the party gets you organized early & you get a few hours to enjoy with friends.

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