Whether it's a battered wooden nutcracker, a nativity scene passed down from great-grandma, or stockings that mom sewed herself, every family has its own holiday traditions—and decorations.
Yet between finding the perfect tree, making sure everyone's favorite ornament gets hung, and everything in between, there's so much to do that it's enough to get tempers rising. But there's no reason to let decorating become a chore—instead, turn it into an opportunity for some family crafting! These four DIY trimmings come together in no time from stuff you probably already have around the house.
DIY Wreath With Plenty of 'Swag'
Surprise carolers and guests with a departure from the traditional round wreath, and instead, create your own swag! These freeform wreaths are simple pine boughs tied into a teardrop shape, and so easy to make at home.
If you have pine tree in the backyard, cut a few short boughs off, and tie them together at the top with a bit of twine or wire. Christmas tree lots and nurseries often sell pine boughs this time of year, too. Finish your swag with a silky red ribbon, pine cones, or any other accessories you have on hand; then hang it up and wow everyone who comes to the door!
This edible, eco-friendly garland—a great alternative to tangly flashing lights—will give your tree a charming old-fashioned feel. Plus, it's easy for the whole family to work on together.
First, pop some popcorn and leave it out overnight to get stale. The next day, pick up some fresh cranberries, sturdy thread, and a sewing needle. Cut a long swath of thread, tie a large knot at one end, and thread the other end through the needle. Carefully thread individual pieces of popcorn and cranberries onto the garland. Voila!
Fruity Tree Ornaments
For the ornamental oranges, slice each fruit into 3/4-inch rounds and arrange them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at the lowest possible temperature for four hours. Flip the slices, and continue to bake until the slices are almost completely dry. Slice a small hole near the peel, and hang with some thread.
The same slice-and-bake method works with apples—or you can hang them on the tree whole. To try it, pick the smallest apples you can find—if you have a neighbor with an apple or crabapple tree, opt for the homegrown variety. Cut a 4-inch long piece of floral wire and poke it into the apple, close to the center. When the wire feels securely stuck in the apple, bend it upward and hook it onto a branch.
Recycled Paper-Scrap Ornaments
Don't toss the recycling just yet. This DIY makes good use of old scraps of paper, already-opened Christmas cards, and wrapping paper. To get started, gather papers and cut into five thin strips—two about 6 inches long, two s4 inches long, and one 3 inches long. Staple the top end of all of the pieces together, and gather the other ends together so that the longer strips of paper billow out and form an teardrop-like shape. Staple these ends together, and hang your new ornament with some thread.
The best part about these decorations? Once January rolls around, you can recycle or compost all of them!
Photo credit: Alicia Cho