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Frugal Holiday Decorating

Last post 12-01-2011 4:01 AM by timzagain. 23 replies.
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  • 10-28-2010 2:15 PM

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-28-2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Frugal Holiday Decorating

     Holidays come with extra expenses. We know that many will be struggling to afford it all. We are asking our community members to help us put together some holiday guides. We'd like your best ideas for frugal holiday decorating, gift ideas, holiday recipes and entertaining, and holiday baking.

    The first one is decorating. How do you spend less on making your home festive for the holidays?

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • 10-29-2010 1:02 AM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating

    Brandy:
    The first one is decorating. How do you spend less on making your home festive for the holidays?
     

    Pine cones are generally free for the gathering. Sometimes nuts are as well.

    I have some pine cones in a little metal sleigh (free- repurposed from another use) outside by the front door.  On the opposite side, there is an empty space.  I have a square metal basket, about the same size as the sleigh, which came from freecycle. It is currently silver-toned, but I intend to paint it a dark red with leftover gloss enamel, then fill with more pine cones, & use it to fill that empty space to "balance" the front door.  My front door & steps are what used to be called a "stoop" - bigger than steps, but not a porch, & no railing, so not much space to decorate. With the artifical pine wreath stored in the cubby, that will do the front of the house. 

    When we lived in Idaho, I had baskets filled with pine cones and some filled with various nuts (gathered free), with red, green or Christmas plaid ribbons tied on the handles.  One basket came from Ohio - a peck-sized fruit basket that reminded me of home.  The other baskets came from the thrift store & were spray painted a dark brown enamel color. Some of the baskets were grouped together on the porch, others inside on the hearth by the fireplace.  It looked warm & inviting, cost almost nothing, & reminded the children of the fun we had gathering the pine cones & nuts.

  • 11-01-2010 1:00 AM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating

    I know that some people like to put off wrapping & presenting presents until "the day of the event", but a significant part of out decorating is just having presents wrapped and arranged under the tree. (Which is artificial and has been used for at least 10 years--with an assortment of ornaments collected over the years.) We also hang stockings well in advance. (We bought some pretty nice stockings several years ago at TJMaxx and use them year after year.) 

    Most of our wrapping is also reusable or at least re-used. I pick up christmas tins, scarves, christmas napkins and so on at the thrift store over the course of the year. I use the scarves and napkins (and even a couple of table cloths) to furoshiki wrap presents for much less than new furoshiki wraps cost. (I've also repurposed some red-satin pjs and a green satin table runner into furoshiki wraps with some cutting and sewing.) Awkwardly shaped presents can go into holiday tins or re-used gift bags. Most of this can also be re-used from year to year, and while I do add to it, I don't spend a lot of time or money adding to it. 

     Also, we display all the Christmas cards we receive in the mail. (And maybe even some especially beautiful ones from last year.) 

     These are all very cheap ways to make the holidays feel festive. 

  • 11-01-2010 10:26 AM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-28-2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating

     

    naomi1431:
    we display all the Christmas cards we receive in the mail.

    How do you display them?

    I know some like to put them on the mantle or on a table. I prefer hanging them on walls.

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • 11-01-2010 11:37 AM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating

    naomi1431:
    Most of our wrapping is also reusable or at least re-used.
     

    I use several old popcorn tins to save our bows for reuse from year to year.

    For the past several years, I have purchased one of two gift bags at the after Christmas clearance sales, & we have re-used those over & over again.  I use a paper punch to make a hole near one corner of the gift tag, then cut a diagonal slit from the edge fo the tag to the hole, so I can slip the "to - from" tag over the handle of the bag.  Both the tags & the bag can be re-used this way.  Works great!  The bags fold flat & quite a few can be stored inside the largest bag, without taking up much room.

    Several years ago I used some of the "Christmas card demos" that come in the mail, wanting you to purchase "their" cards to help whomever.  These particular ones had horses on them, & we about 5x7" in size.  I glued them to the side of some white shopping bags that were heavy paper with handles, coverin ghte store name, & added them to the Christmas stash.  There are several cards that had winter horse scenes, but no wreaths or bows that denote Christmas, so those became the first stash of our "birthday bags".  Since we have a number of birthdays in January & February, winter scenes work for us.

    I hadn't thought of using holiday tins for gifts other than food, but that is a great idea! 

    I re-use washed out salsa jars & small novelty-type jars ( like the mustard from Hickory Farms gift packs, etc) & refill them with dried herbs.  A red plastic peanut butter jarlid looks quite festive on a small canning jar filled with herbs, too.

  • 11-01-2010 9:44 PM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating

    zohnerfarms:

     Several years ago I used some of the "Christmas card demos" that come in the mail, wanting you to purchase "their" cards to help whomever.  These particular ones had horses on them, & we about 5x7" in size.  I glued them to the side of some white shopping bags that were heavy paper with handles, coverin ghte store name, & added them to the Christmas stash.  There are several cards that had winter horse scenes, but no wreaths or bows that denote Christmas, so those became the first stash of our "birthday bags".  Since we have a number of birthdays in January & February, winter scenes work for us.

     

    That's a great idea for the  demo cards!  I have a bunch of those, which I occasionally use for gift tags.

    I reuse as much as possible:  bows, gift bags, boxes. (since most of the gift-giving is between DH and myself, it's easy to do.)

      If I can salvage anything from the wrappings of gifts given to us, I do.  (occasionally, some of those bits end up on the Christmas tree.) 

  • 11-01-2010 9:49 PM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating

    deco poge old christmas cards to old box;s or use them on a string next to a snow flacke.

  • 11-01-2010 10:44 PM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating

    zohnerfarms:
    I have a square metal basket, about the same size as the sleigh, which came from freecycle. It is currently silver-toned, but I intend to paint it a dark red with leftover gloss enamel, then fill with more pine cones, & use it to fill that empty space to "balance" the front door.  My front door & steps are what used to be called a "stoop" - bigger than steps, but not a porch, & no railing, so not much space to decorate. With the artifical pine wreath stored in the cubby, that will do the front of the house. 
     

    The metal basket is now a dark red, & is filled about 2/3 of the way full with assorted pine cones.  I put it on the front stoop this afternoon & was pleased to see that it brought out the dark red colors in the autumn leaf wreath that is currently on the door.  The color co-ordination was totally accidental, but welcome - it looks better than I had expected! 

  • 11-02-2010 10:19 PM In reply to

    Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating

    collected some big pine cones from down the road put them in a basket with little cones and pine branchs with a red and green bow on top of the handle that I did years ago and used some of the cones around the dinner table.

  • 11-02-2010 11:43 PM In reply to

    • Mimi
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on 05-04-2008
    • Posts 981

    Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating

    Hi Everyone!

    It's nice to have a chance to stop by the forum again.  I've missed all of you!

    Those are all good ideas!

    Here are some that have helped me save money....

    Of course, the cheapest thing to do is use what we already have. Smile 

    Unfortunately, it can be easy to get bored with decorations we've used over and over. If you're bored with your current ones, you could organize a decorations swap, much like a cookie swap.  (You could even combine the two!)

    You could re-purpose old/broken decorations by using them in craft projects.  Previously used tin foil, wrapping paper and old magazines and be transformed into pretty ornaments too.  Water bottles can become angels with enough creativity.  (You too can have TP roll reindeer on your tree if you wish!)

    People who are downsizing their homes or just purging their excess decorations might be more than happy to give you their extra decorations for free.

    Getting small to medium-sized trees doesn't just save on the price of the tree.  You also need fewer lights and decorations to make them look nice. 

    If you live in a climate where you can plant your tree after Christmas (not so easy where the ground is frozen solid) getting a live tree with roots can be an investment in your landscaping too.

    Now might be a good time to buy evergreen bushes on clearance and trim them into an appropriate shape for a tabletop tree.  There might even be small evergreen trees available on clearance right now at lawn and garden centers in your area.

    Because my first year away from home the live trees were ridiculously expensive and impossible to transport with my small car, I bought an inexpensive artificial tree which I re-use year after year.  It has saved me hundreds of dollars on live trees. 

    I still like the smell of fresh greenery though, so I have been known to let my bushes get extra bushy before the holidays and then use the trimmings to decorate the mantel, make centerpieces, etc. I also have a bush that has red berries on it, so I add some of those and pinecones too.

    I discovered by accident that a strand of lights in a triangle/tree shape in your window can sometimes (from a distance) give the impression of an actual lighted tree. 

    Wild grape vines are annoying when they're climbing all over trees, but they make pretty wreaths or other decorations that you can use all year. 

    Instead of items specific to Christmas, etc. I usually buy tablecloths, platters, etc. in solid colors (or plain glass) that can work for multiple occasions. 

    Classic old toys you have can make cute decorations when arranged under your tree or by the fireplace.  You can even tie a red bow around Teddy's neck or stick a stocking cap on his head.

    Maybe you have mittens and an old sled, skis or ice skates that would make a nice display.  A large stuffed animal dressed in an old Christmas sweater would be cute too.

    Colorful candies and homemade cookies look pretty on a plate, wreath or the tree.  Gingerbread houses can be magical.

    Your holiday mug collection (from the 27 mug gifts you've received over the years) can look festive displayed on a shelf or table, esp. with a pretty tin of cocoa and marshmallows nearby.

    Old holiday photos are always nice.  Extra prints are inexpensive (and priceless) and you can attach several to a ribbon or to ornament hooks to hang them on the tree.  You can even put them in a tree shape on your wall.

    Angels, snowmen, antique toys, etc. can stay up after the holidays.  I like that because "undecorating" is depressing for me!

    If you can get a good deal on solar or LED Christmas lights, they are a good investment since they can save a lot on electricity.  No matter what kind you have, for safety and saving, turn off lights when you go to bed.

    Don't under-estimate the effect of music and scent.  Bake something yummy or just bring a pot of water with baking spices to a boil on the stove. (Remember to turn it off!  I forgot once and discovered it just in time.)

    Be sure to focus your decorating efforts on areas where they'll have the most impact--usually the front door and the front room.

    I hope I'll be able to be on here more in the next few months, but if not, Happy Holidays to all of you!  I still think about you and pray for you regularly! Not a day goes by that I don't use something that one of you shared! :-)

    "...for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil." Proverbs 15:15b-16 NLT

    The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.--Winston Churchill
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