Christmas Decorating on a Shoestring: Fun for the Whole Family

Harriet Hodgson

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My neighbors put up elaborate lighting displays. One has every roof line, every tree, and every bush decorated with lights. While this display gives me pleasure, I wonder about the cost and drain on electric power. I have taken a simpler approach to Christmas decorating.

FESTIVE WREATH. I bought a real looking plastic wreath at the grocery store for $10 and have used it for years. Our front door is red, but it is also metal, so I hang the wreath on the house to the left of the door. A $5 spotlight shines on the wreath and we turn of the light at 9 p. m.

FRESH APPLES. Fill a bowl with apples and you have an instant, fragrant centerpiece. To make your centerpiece even more festive tie a ribbon bow for each apple and fasten it to the stem end with straight pins.

CHRISTMAS CARD ART. Many stores carry framed holiday pictures and they are pricey. You can have holiday art for loss. Buy a Christmas card, put it in a discount store frame, and display your art on the mantle. If you don't have a mantle put the card in a frame that has a fold-out stand on the back.

IT'S THE BERRIES. Wide-mouth Mason jars are one of the best bargains around. Buy a case of jars and fill them with fresh cranberries. Tie a plaid wire ribbon bow to each jar. Display the jars in rows or individually.

PRETZEL TREE. One of the most charming decorations we ever had was a small Norfolk pine I bought at the grocery store. I tied round pretzels onto the tree with plaid ribbon and put it in the living room where guests would see it right away.

COMPLEX PAPER SNOWFLAKES. Kids love to cut paper snowflakes and their snowflakes will be even prettier if they are cut from origami paper. For instructions on complex snowflake-cutting kids can log onto Teens will enjoy cutting Polish snowflakes and can find directions for Gwiazdy on

DOOR PRESENT. Cover your front door with foil and tie a ribbon around it so it looks like a present. We bought red door covering at a local home store. Our “kit" did not include the ribbon, however. If your local home store does not have door covering you may cover the door with aluminum foil. Hold the covering in place with duct tape.

FOOD GRATER LUMINARIES. Tea lights in box food graters make a dramatic centerpiece. Use the box graters you have or buy them at local Salvation Army/Goodwill stores. For safety, set the candles in baby food jars and put a little water in each one.

STICKS AND BRANCHES. Import and garden stories sell bunches of natural, tall sticks. Leave the sticks natural or paint them with with red, gold, or silver spray paint. Arrange the sticks in a large vase or flower pot. Wind tiny tree lights around the sticks or glue on paper stars.

Copyright 2006 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 28 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, " written with Lois Krahn, MD is available from A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. Another review is posted on the American Hospice Foundation Website under the “School Corner" heading.


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