Pretty, Easy DIY Christmas Decor

Want to do a little Christmas decorating or add to your holiday decor without breaking the bank? Well, Annie get your glue gun! Seriously, if you can plug a cord into an outlet and pull a glue gun trigger, you’re crafty. Moving on.

Here’s what I did to add just a touch of Christmas to my dining room, which I chose because it’s the most sparsely decorated room in my home. I love it that way – it has a Scandinavian feel (in my opinion) – which plays into my minimalist goals. It also seemed like the perfect blank palette for some wreaths and whatnot.

I bought two faux boxwood wreaths from At Home for the two windows in my dining room. They were $14.99 each, and after the holidays, I can hang them on my exterior doors and add seasonal touches to them like flowers in the spring, maybe red, white, and blue ribbon for Independence Day, and autumn leaves in the Fall. You know I love to reduce, reuse, recycle!

I like boxwood because it looks neat and tidy.

I purchased red and white plaid ribbon – 60% off at JoAnn Fabrics ($3.20 per roll and I used 1.5 rolls) – and with my glue gun made a loop of wide ribbon around the wreath. This will be the hanger. I tied a wide-ribbon bow to the top, and slid the ribbon hanger onto the valance piece of my horizontal blinds. This project took maybe 20 minutes to do both wreaths. It would have been 15 minutes had I not dropped the glue gun and subsequently stuck my finger directly into a glob of hot glue, causing unChristmas-like profanity and walking in circles until the pain subsided. That was a good 5 minutes right there.

Ta-da! Boxwood wreath hanging from the valance on my blinds.

I also picked up a faux boxwood ball ($9.99), which to me looks a little or a lot like mistletoe. Ribbon-scissors-glue gun, and boom – ready to hang!

Looks like Mistletoe to me!

You can see a theme here, and I do love a theme (or at least symmetry), because next came two faux potted boxwoods ($9.99 each) for the table top. These are perfect because the pots are neutral, and again I can remove the ribbon and use them throughout the year. One more time: ribbon-scissors-glue gun and voila! My potted boxwoods have the same red plaid trim as the wreaths and the made-up mistletoe.

There was still a good amount of ribbon left on the spool, so I made a large bow and attached it with a strip of thin ribbon to the light fixture above the dining table. I have plenty of ribbon left for next year, too.

With the narrow ribbon, I tied a bow around my existing pillar candle holder. I love how the red plaid ribbon ties it all together. See what I did there? Ha! I tossed a pinecone garland around the pillar candle in the window seat for some texture.

Just a little something in the window seat.

Lastly, I added the vintage ceramic Christmas tree that belonged to my parents. It’s nice to have something sentimental in the room, and Mom’s little ceramic tree puts a smile on my face. Who doesn’t love something to smile about?

From Christmas past – a little keepsake from Mom and Dad.

So, for a grand total of $75 plus tax, I added a nice little amount of Christmas to my dining room, most of which I’ll use all year simply by changing the ribbon or leaving it au naturale. You could totally do this for even less by making your own wreaths or hitting up the dollar store. Get creative – if you grow herbs in the kitchen, put those in matching pots with seasonal ribbon for a table top centerpiece. The possibilities are endless!

The best photo I can get of my pretty, minimalist Christmas!

The holidays can be hectic and stressful, and as much as we want to welcome our friends and family into a Chip and Joanna worthy home, Christmas decorating should be enjoyable and on the “if I get to it” list, and it certainly should not put you in financial distress. Thanksgiving, Christmas, any holiday for that matter can be enjoyed with loved ones without stressing yourself or your pocketbook.

Merry Christmas and cheers to a happy holiday season!


10 Ways to Make Your Solo Christmas Special

If you usually celebrate Christmas with family, but find yourself alone for the holiday, you might be wondering what to do with your time. I visit my family during the summer because I choose not to travel North in the winter. The trade-off is that I spend Christmas alone. The upside is that it can be peaceful and freeing. It can be a tough adjustment, but it turns out you can actually have a merry and meaningful holiday on your own!

My tradition has evolved from extreme family togetherness, to small and intimate gatherings, to each sibling hosting their own holiday with their grown children. Back in the day, all five of my siblings, along with their children, would descend upon Mom and Dad’s home for Christmas. Most would stay the weekend while Mom cooked, Dad shouted at the television (mostly at Bart Starr and Lynn Dickey), and the kids ran wild. Of course, each night was capped off with a play-for-keeps poker game.

As things do, it all changed. I moved a thousand miles away and declared I would visit Wisconsin in the summer months and not during snowstorms with icy roads and cancelled flights. My Christmas tradition has changed drastically. It has gone from confining 10 to 15 adults and children to a 900 square foot house for three days with copious amounts of sugar and alcohol, to me spending time with me. I find myself amusing and super chill, so it’s okay. If you’re doing Christmas solo, here are 10 things that might make your holiday special.

1 – Make yourself a special meal. I’ve been eating junk lately, so I prepared my favorite healthy breakfast on Christmas Eve morning. Slow cooked steel-cut oats with fresh blackberries, bananas, and walnuts sprinkled with cinnamon. Your special meal might be bacon and eggs, a black and bleu burger for lunch, or lobster for dinner. All that matters is that it makes you happy!

Delicious and healthy breakfast

2 – Get outside. The short days and chilly weather are not my jam, and winter transforms me into a hermit. As soon as I get home from work, the PJs are on and I’m in for the evening. Christmas morning is the perfect time to get outside for a hike, stretch your legs, and breathe fresh air. The parks and trails are less congested, allowing you to really connect with nature. Listen to the squirrels rustling among the trees, streams trickling, and winter birds chirping. I brought my dog, Grace, so she could enjoy the sights and smells, too!

Miles of greenway with sculptures at the NCMA, and some are benches!

3 – Lend a hand. You probably know someone who is in high gear preparing for their family get-together. Offer to run an errand for a friend or neighbor and lighten their load. Something as simple as picking up last-minute grocery items can make someone’s day less stressful.

4 – FaceTime with your family. Or ask them to video special moments. Just because you’re not with your family, doesn’t mean you can’t see your family. Dial up some togetherness–watch the kiddos open a gift, have the adults pass the phone around and say Merry Christmas to everyone!

Christmas Morning

5 – Visit with a friend, or not. Your friends will invite you to join their family celebration. This is a personal decision, and I suggest you do what you’re comfortable with. I’ll admit, no matter how sincere and well-meaning the gesture, sometimes being with someone else’s family makes me more lonesome for my own family. Sometimes I accept the invite and have a blast; other times I choose to do my own thing. I give myself permission to make the decision that feels right for me each year.

6 – See a local show/sight/event. Having a long weekend usually means I can schedule an activity I would not normally have time for. This Christmas weekend I’m going to see the Chinese Lantern Festival. You might want to see a movie, a live show, or a concert. Treat yourself!

Chinese Lantern Festival

7 – Volunteer. Many organizations need help over Christmas because the usual volunteers are out of town for the holiday. Be sure to check into this a few months in advance as most groups require an application and possibly orientation and training. What says Christmas more than helping those in need?

8 – Go to Church. If you’re spiritual, attend a church service. If you attend regularly, reach out and welcome someone who is alone. If you haven’t been in a while, don’t worry. Any time is a good time to reconnect with your faith. Feed your spiritual soul.

9 – Meditate. Whether you’re a yogi or someone simply trying to touch his or her toes, spend 15 minutes before turning in for the night gently stretching your body and resting your mind. I’ve created a Pandora station with peaceful music and I reflect on what I am thankful for. I have not yet mastered the art of quieting my thoughts, so focused reflection it is.

10 – Take a trip. If you’re like me and not going home because their weather is frightful, how about Christmas on a warm, sunny beach? If you’re comfortable traveling alone, it could be delightful!

Merry Christmas, Y’all!