i’d been waiting to write until I found a camera to show you all my wonderful attempts at christmas decor, but alas, it seems that none of the cameras are matching up with their respected transfer cords, or my card reader isn’t working, or my MMS doesn’t work on my phone… so yeah. i’ll take pictures when the tree is done.

Each year, Mandy and I try to spend around $30 or less decorating our tree. We come up with a theme and buy different decor each year. We try to make it as earth friendly as possible, and do reuse things–most of our themes have very simple decor in plain colors so that we can reuse it. We’ve done “candy tree,” “toy tree,” “nature in gold,” “a blue christmas,” and several others. This year, we’re doing a homemade christmas/rustic christmas. I spent about $10 at michaels buying wood “DIY paint” ornaments. (I did buy the paint, but because it was to restock my own paint supply, I don’t count it in the budget). I also bought $3 gold ribbon at walmart (for a 60 yard roll; it was a little over an inch wide) and have made bows. I also bought $7 worth of fabric: two yards for the tree skirt and a yard and a half for sewing small stockings in a ticking stripe/muslin kind of fabric also found at walmart. At Dollar Tree, I found some gold bells ($1) and they have all kinds of other goodies there. I already have other bells, glittery snowflakes and globe ornaments; i think they’re the wrong color so i may have to spray paint them, but a little gold spraypaint is something I already have. I’m hanging everything with twine–$1.44 at walmart for a large spool, and I almost forgot–instead of buying more ribbon or something to go around the tree, mandy and I made very tiny paper chains–green and red. The loops were made of three inch strips of paper, cut about 3/8ths of an inch wide, and taped together. They form 1 inch loops when strung together, and look darling–don’t think of the construction paper chains made by kids, the effect is more rustic and less kindergarten.

I should add that our tree is 6′ pre-lit, we bought it at walmart last year for $30. (We only sprung for the 6′ tree because chad lived in an apartment with very, VERY low ceilings–though it will cut down on our decorating costs, I’d advise you to go with at least a 6.5′ if you can!)

I reused the twine and found some stamps for $1.50 at walmart to make my own cards ($4/pack at michaels; 8 come in the pack), but i’m not telling how i did that! The cards are on the card aisle at michaels–the red ones with the kraft envelopes! I bought plaid christmas placemats (2), green and gold ribbon, a glitter poinsettia, berries and christmas cookie tins for $1 each at Dollar Tree. I got little loaf pans in red and green at Michaels for $1, and they have plenty of $1 stamps, ribbon, cards, tags and other odds and ends that are GREAT for the holidays!

And of course, my favorite part, gift wrap: We found kraft paper with gold stars at Dollar Tree about a month ago, but they were out last time I went. I like it–its simple and pretty. We also have candy striped red and white paper from walmart and a solid red roll–and I bought all kinds of ribbon on sale. I don’t use gift wrap ribbon after the many, many times it shred on me last year while wrapping, but i found a lot of ribbon at Michaels for $1 (it’s half off for right now, and normally $1.99) and Dollar General, Walmart and Big Lots–I should note that Michaels’ old prints and discontinued colors of “basic basic” ribbon, normally $3 a roll, is $1 at Big Lots. I found my tags at Michaels for $3.99/12 pack of Martha Stewart Craft tags, but I had the 40% off coupon. I wouldn’t discount the value of investing in a tag punch, buying some via Etsy or making your own. If I hadn’t found those, I would be making my own, but those were exactly what I was looking for! My Michaels was sold out two days after they put them out though (I caught them on a good afternoon) so look carefully and if you can’t find them, down the tag aisle, above the wonderful red cards I mentioned earlier, in the same section, there is a 20 pack of white tags for $4.99. That’s a little steep, but if you have the 50% off coupon from last week or this week, it’d be cheap!

And for holiday baking, Target has sprinkles (5 kinds) for $2.50; they also have hand towels for $1 if you’re into the total home christmas decor. Also, check for sales on baking mixes like quick bread or muffin mixes–I found banana bread mix for $1 at Ingles and now I have something to fill my little loaf pans–$4 for three little gifts isn’t bad!

I should add on top of everything: though mandy, chad and I are aiming to save money in how we decorate, we believe in using some of that money to help others. we buy inexpensive presents for children to donate later in the season, as we go along–so in an effort to get the word out, please do your part, too! You could:

  • Adopt a family/child
  • donate toys
  • sponsor a coat drive
  • give to food drives/food pantries
  • donate baby products to local shelters
  • volunteer throughout the holidays
  • donate money to the salvation army
  • make a care package for a soldier
  • bake goods and make food for your local first responders-fire, police, ems
  • help others.

So that’s my post. A long one, I know, but one that means a lot to me.