Free or Low-Budget DIY Christmas Decorations

The following is a guest post by Maria Rainier, a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, where recently she's been researching different physical therapy assistant schools and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

You’ll never buy another Christmas tree ornament, garland, or wreath again when you tackle these holiday decoration projects yourself. It’s a great way to have fun, save money, and make sure your home looks exactly the way you want it to. So before you run out to the store for some supplemental decorations, take stock of what you already have on hand – you might just need a few crafting supplies, which tend to be much less expensive than commercial Christmas stuff.

You’ll also need a little creativity, some time and energy, and maybe a few of Santa’s helpers – kids love to help “make” Christmas. You might even start a new family tradition at almost no cost, and that’s worth the investment. If your decorations are starting to show their age or if you just want to spruce up your ornament collection, try using some of these ideas to deck the halls on a dime.

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Whether you want a themed tree or your kids want to go at it with everything they’ve got, here are some ways to make fun, festive, and even classic ornaments.

Half Baked: You’re probably already making cookies for the holidays – they’re fun, delicious, and they make the house smell great. Any kind of cookie dough works, but gingerbread and sugar cookie dough are especially good for making ornaments. If you’re making any other holiday baked goods, you might try pretzel dough or cheese straw mix – be creative and use what you have. You can make shapes with cookie cutters or you can roll dough into long strips and shape it that way, as long as you’ve got a hole somewhere on your ornaments so they can be hung on the tree. Try decorating them with frosting, candy, and salt or sugar crystals to get some holiday sparkle. You can even eat them right off of the tree if you get hungry while opening presents.

Paper Trail: Origami ornaments are inexpensive – you just need paper – and most are easy to fold. You can choose models based on your level of expertise, and there’s something for everyone. If you don’t have colored paper, use crayons, pens, markers, colored pencils, and anything else you can think of to make your paper more festive before folding it. You can make classic paper ring garlands, too – and one more paper decoration can be fashioned from old Christmas cards. Just cut out the images you want to use, punch holes in them, and hang them on your tree.

Fabricated: Use old clothing cut or ripped into strips to hang your ornaments. Whoever has red and green socks might have to sacrifice them for the Christmas cause, or you can use any color scheme you like.

Snow Day: Make paper snowflakes and use cotton batting to make your tree into a winter wonderland. You can even add glitter to the snowflakes, as long as you don’t mind vacuuming up renegade sparkles later.

Mini-mized: Using your cloth strips, hang miniature items from your tree as ornaments. They can be toys, silverware, perfume bottles, small mirrors, foods like mini pretzels, and anything else miniaturized that might be handy. Hint: Raid family members’ collections of peculiar items (you know we all have them) for suitable objects. Doll houses are especially lucrative.

Garlands & Wreaths

Make your garlands and wreaths out of popcorn, cranberries, nuts, dried fruit (like citrus rings), greenery, raffia, twigs, pine cones, any ribbon you might have around the house, and other items you might want to include. You can go outside and grab many of these items, find them in your house, or purchase them at very little cost. Use ribbon, twine, raffia, wire, or anything else that’s handy to give your wreath some shape – these same materials can be used to string your garlands, and if you have fishing line, that’s especially useful for stringing. Beads from broken or discarded jewelry, craft supplies, and junk drawers can be inspirational, too.


Use seasonal fruits and vegetables to stand on their own or sit in pretty baskets – try pomegranates, gourds, oranges, apples, and anything else you can find for a good price at the grocery store. Another idea is to coat pinecones and twigs in glue, then roll them in salt or sugar to get a crystallized effect – glitter can also work. Put them in baskets or glass vases with festive berries, gumdrops, hard candies, or any other small colorful item. Use old Christmas cards to brighten up glass-topped surfaces by sliding them under the glass, or stand them up in groups on small tables throughout the house. Fresh greenery is always an inexpensive and natural way to decorate, so if you have any in your backyard or close to where you live, take advantage of it to liven up any centerpiece. By choosing fragrant branches, you can even make your house smell like Christmas without plunking down the cash for scented candles, oils, or air fresheners. Your wallet will thank you and you’ll have a great time with your family as you create your own unique Christmas decorations.

Additional Reading:

Ten Frugal Last Minute Gift Ideas

The 10 Best Freebie Sites

1 comment:

  1. These are all great ideas. I would like to add one. You can also use empty toilet paper rolls to decorate your tree. If you dont have toilet paper rolls, you can use paper towel rolls and cut them up in smaller sizes.

    these can be decorated with ribbons, sparkles, and everything else suggested as well as old wrapping paper. Unless you recyle, these empty rolls go to waste anyway.


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