I decided I wanted to put a homemade (and cheap) spin on our Christmas decorations this year. In that vein, here are a couple of holiday-themed projects I’ve tackled in the last couple of weeks. Disclaimer: I picked up most of these ideas from folks much more creative than I.

All of these were easy to accomplish in small snippets of time — it was so rewarding to 1. up-cycle things I already had, 2. bring the outside in, 3. DIY it!


1. Paper Circle Garland – all you need for this craft is an assortment of interesting, thick paper, a circle cutter, and some thread (I used a sewing machine, but you could hand-stitch it without too much trouble).

If you’re like me, you hate to throw away Christmas cards once the season is over. So, I took my stack of 2009 Christmas cards (sitting in the closet exactly where I put them last January), added a stack of leftover craft paper from my sweet friend Swan’s wedding and an old 2009 letterpress calendar, and started cutting circles. My circle cutter makes 3 inch circles, but I think it would be even cuter if the circles were a bit smaller, say 1.5-2 inches apiece. I cut out the pretty parts and faces from all of the cards, and then one by one ran them through the sewing machine back to back, creating one long garland. Obviously, you could customize this to whatever length you’d prefer.

The sewing part took all of about 10 minutes, and now I’ve preserved all of the sweet faces of our friends and family and added some festive flair to string over the blinds in our den- this season, or year round.

2. Pine Cone Garland – One of the things I miss about my parents’ house (that I NEVER thought I’d miss, growing up in Central Mississippi) is the pine trees. On a recent trip home, Dad and I filled up a huge sack with pine cones to bring home to Birmingham. One way I’ve used them is as garland on our tree!

Supplies needed: pine cones and twine. I simply took a long strand of thick jute twine and cut it into about 40 six-inch pieces. I then unwound an approximately 8 foot long piece of jute. Running the six-inch jute twine under the uppermost row of pine cone tines on each cone, I’d then secure it in a simple loop around the long garland strand, which allowed me to secure each individual pine cone to the garland. The jute has enough texture that a knot isn’t even needed. I affixed roughly 40 pine cones, spacing them in groups of two’s and three’s. This made a garland more or less long enough to cover our 8 foot tree.

One other addition that I was excited to run up on is a strand of 2 inch burlap ribbon. It is a nice natural complement to the pine cones and jute.

3. Felt Garland – This idea was blatantly stolen from the pages of The Land of Nod. Supplies needed: felt, sharp sewing scissors, sewing machine (optional), hot glue gun (optional).

I made this project with neighbor Katie and some other crafty girls one recent afternoon. We decided to make felt Christmas trees for our garland, but you could do mittens, stars, and so on. We began cutting several different shapes of trees about 7-8 inches in length out of several different colors of felt. I doubled the thickness of felt for each of my trees to give them more heft.

Once I’d cut two pieces of felt for about 20 trees and 20 brown two-inch stems, I sewed the two sides of each tree together and onto the stem with about a 1/2 inch seam allowance. You could also hot glue the tree sides together just as easily.

When I finished sewing the trees together,  I decorated each one a little differently. On some I hot glued circles and hearts, and on some I sewed strands of contrasting thread. The sky is the limit, here. Finally, I sewed each tree onto a strip of bias tape (essentially, ribbon), leaving a few inches between each tree. They now happily adorn the space above my kitchen sink. If you’re doing this garland for your Christmas tree, I’d make each shape a bit smaller — more like 5-6 inches in height.

4. Doily Garland – This was a super easy project to tackle. Supplies: fabric doilies (99 c at Joann’s), jute twine, fabric stiffener.

I dipped the doilies into a bowl of fabric stiffener slightly diluted with water, wrung (wrang? what even is the past tense, here??) them out, and laid them on wax paper for several hours to dry. Once stiffened, I strung them onto a jute garland and secured each doily in place by knotting on each side of its place on the jute. I then displayed it across the mantel. Wa-la!

Bonus: I can use this throughout the winter, or pull it out again come Valentine’s Day.

Unrelated aside: I saw an amazing display of white and neutral Christmas decorations at a booth at Mistletoe Marketplace last month, and decided to try my hand on the mantel this year. All that to say, think of all the things we already own that could work in our favor when doing white/neutral. A stack of cream colored dinner plates, bland candles, interestingly shaped branches from the yard — there are so many ways this could go, using things around the house and yard.

There are a few other small projects that I’ll detail in the next post. Have a happy day!