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I simply adore big celebrations. I love big family gatherings. I love over-the-top feasts. There's something about a celebration that's done with great thought and care and an over-abundance of gezellig – cozy warmth and welcome – that is simply a joy to be a part of.
Yet the older I get, the more I really, truly appreciate a simple Christmas – and that includes the decorations.
But how can you do “simple” while still keeping the sense of joy and celebration in the preparations? And without looking like it came straight out of a kindergarten classroom (as joyful as those creations are)?
Thus, here are some of my favorite ways to decorate that are simultaneously frugal, classy, and festive!
Simple Decorations for a Frugal, Classy, Festive Christmas
Do as they did in Victorian times – bring in fresh cut evergreen boughs, holly, and other greenery – this also makes your home smell so incredibly fresh! Potted rosemary bushes are also a lovely addition.
Another great idea from the Victorians is to stud oranges with cloves (aka pomanders) and string them on ribbons or place in decorative vases or bowls. There are absolutely excellent tutorials at Simple Bites and Homemade Gifts Made Easy.
If you'd like more inspiration from the Victorians, read my article, A Victorian Christmas: Using Seasonal and Preserved Foods at Christmas, over at the Traditional Cooking School. It was a fascinating article to write!
Simple DIY Garlands
String cranberries – we've done this almost every year in our home the last few years and the strings of cranberries are so cheery!
String popcorn strands (spray paint if desired) – if you must have gold or silver in your decor, spray paint a garland of popcorn for a simple, glitzy decoration.
Or string them together!
DIY Scented Pine Cones
Place pine cones or your favorite ornaments in a clear glass bowl or vase
How to naturally scent pine cones (there's many, many more essential oil recipes like this in our Essential Oil Reference Guide!) if you want scented pine cones but don't want to buy them or fill your home with artificial scent, here's how to do it naturally:
- place a few pine cones in a paper bag
- soak a cotton ball or scrap piece of fabric in cypress, spruce, or cedarwood essential oil and place in the bag
- close bag securely and leave overnight
- take cones out and use
- the bag will also be scented, so you could use it as a decoration as well
DIY Christmas Potpourri
Candles, candles, and more candles
Place candles around the house, whether they get lit or not, as they create a peaceful and joyful ambiance.
One note: Avoid paraffin candles even though they're cheaper, as paraffin can be toxic to breathe as it burns, and avoid soy candles (unfortunately) because they're nearly always produced using petrochemicals that can likewise be harmful to breathe.
Beeswax and sustainable palm wax candles are both good options and it is possible to find ones that don't break the bank (and they smell better too!), such as these ones. There are also white and green options, as well as tea lights, votives, pillars, and other shapes.
However, if you have access to a local beekeeper, local beeswax candles are about as sustainable as you can get and are usually a very reasonable price.
Display Christmas Cards
Hang Christmas cards on jute twine or ribbon with wooden clothespins. Fasten several lengths of twine to the wall with decorative pushpins, but be careful not to make them too long or the weight of the cards will make them sag.
Classy Paper Chains
Make upscale paper chains – choose very classy paper, cut them into strips, and staple the ends together. It's a kindergarten skill, so anyone of any age can join in, but by using classy papers, these chains can look spellbinding.
Find Classy Table Decor
Use decorative tablecloths and table runners, especially on hall tables and coffee tables. Collect tablecloths through the year that fit your style at thrift stores and yard sales and cherish them throughout the Christmas season.
Make rustic luminarias – Use empty tin cans to make luminarias. Aren't they pretty? Get the tutorial at Think Crafts.
Make Your Own Ornaments
In addition, here's some Homemade Ornament inspiration:
All of these have gorgeous tutorials. They have skill I do not have – it's lovely, truly. 🙂 I'll keep adding to this list as I find them. I also pin handy DIY ideas to our DIY Gifts and Celebrating Winter boards on Pinterest.
A Yarn-Wrapped Star Ornament – classy but simple from Live Laugh Rowe