ISSUE 49  |  Cocktail Hour

10 Favorites: No-Cost Holiday Decor Ideas

December 07, 2015 4:00 PM

BY Justine Hand

Hate the stress of holiday spending, but love to deck the halls? Fortunately it doesn’t take much money to conjure the holiday season in your home. All you need is a little creativity and a bit of help from Mother Nature.

1. Foraged Wreaths

Above: A foraged larch and evergreen wreath by Emma Reddington and Sarah Nixon for Chatelaine Magazine. See more at The Marion House Book.

Even for those who live in the most barren climes, the winter landscape still offers a bounty of festive materials for the holiday home. It’s easy to forge a wreath out of grapevines, rose hips, larch bows, or willows–basically any flexible branch. These can be left plain or adorned with ribbons, or foraged pinecone, berries, or evergreens. Remember to think outside the box. Many ground covers, such and ivy and pachysandra stay green all winter long, as do some shrubs such as rhododendrons and mountain laurel.

See more unexpected wreaths and bows at Earthy Holiday Decor from LA.

Above: Foraged rose hip wreath by Emma Reddington and Sarah Nixon for Chatelaine Magazine. See more at The Marion House Book.

2. Herbal Remedies

Above: A simple DIY tree made from rosemary by designer Molly Madfis. See complete instructions at Almost Makes Perfect.

For those in warmer parts, consider the rosemary plant as holiday green. These flexible, aromatic herbs make great wreaths. Mixed with other garden savories, they make a great gift for the holiday host.

Above, L and R: A rosemary wreath place card DIY by Spoon Fork Bacon. Herbal wreath by Eau De Nil.

3. Go Bare with Branches

Above: A bare branch, a vintage jar, and some hand-cut leather stars are all that’s needed to conjure the holiday spirit at this table, by Radostina at Seventy Nine Ideas.

Even bare branches will do. Strung with lights or hung with cardboard stars or paper snowflakes, sculptural branches evoke the quiet magic of a northern forest bound in snow.

Above: Bare branches, some lights, and a photo of a reindeer make for a serene Scandi scene. Via French Elle Decor.

4. Paper Cuts (and Folds and…)

Above: Paper tree garland DIY by Melissa Fenlon and Sara Albers of Alice & Lois via Julep.

Break out your scissors and some glue for some easy paper crafts. Snip snowflakes and hang them from a branch to create a wintery mobile. Origami up some trees or stars to hang in the window. You can even try your hand at paper maché–all it takes is paper, water, and flour.

Above L: Origami paper stars DIY by Home By Linn. Above R: Paper maché bells with larch pinecones via Bolig Liv.

5. Chalk It Up

Above: Chalkboard tree via House and Home.

Got an old blackboard or slate cheeseboard? Draw a holiday message or image on it. You can even decorate the driveway with a boarder of holly garlands or Santa and his eight (or nine if you count Rudolph) reindeer.

Above: Holiday chalk drawings via Trends Panarna.

6. Ice, Ice Baby

Above: These ice lanterns were made with balloons. See complete DIY on Willowday

For outdoor decor, nothing is more magical (and easy) than ice lanterns. All it takes is water and freezing temperatures.

Above, L to R: A simple ice lantern DIY via Raising Jane. See Erin Boyle’s Botanical Ice Lanterns DIY on Gardenista.

7. Light It Up

Above: A nautical take on the holidays, coiled rope entwined with Christmas lights, via Decoist.

Christmas lights are not just for trimming your house or tree. Take those extra strands and string, drape, gather, or coil them anywhere for a festive holiday feel. Frame a picture with fairy lights or drape lights over a mirror for extra reflective effect. My grandmother used to fill several large glass spheres with lights and place them in her nonfunctional fireplace.

Above, L to R: Firefly string lights gathered under a cloche, via Urban Outfitters. A mirror outlined in lights, via Olof Jakobina.

See more creative lighting concepts at 5 Quick Fixes: Holiday String Lights.

8. Washi Walls

Above: Reminiscent of Finnish Himmeli, this metallic geometric tree is made of copper tape. See the DIY at Hellolidy.

Washi tape. Love it or hate it, it can work well for a quick and inexpensive holiday display. I recommend using it sparingly, as in the fine examples above and below.

Above, L to R: A reindeer bust in washi tape. Erin Boyle decks the walls of her tiny apartment with a holiday collage secured with washi. See Holiday Decor for Small Spaces.

9. Clusters of White Candles

Above: White tapers in a concrete vessel help chase away the cold. Via Basic Label, Sweden.

From tea lights or tapers, we all seem to have numerous white candles lying around. Grouped together these twinkling lights create instant holiday cheer. Outside you can fill a galvanized tub with water and add a flotilla of candles.

Above, L to R: Clip-on candles make an easy advent via Bella Rose. White-painted tin cans filled with white candles make a festive holiday table. Via Show Home.

10. Evergreens Everywhere

Above: A giant pine branch, via Fryd + Design, originally spotted on Poppytalk.

And, of course, there’s the evergreen bough. Large or small, a single branch in a glass jar or ceramic vase instantly says “winter wonderland.”

Above, L to R: Delicate white pine branches as centerpiece, via Sunday Suppers. A single birch tree branch in a mason jar with candles. Via Elles Appelle.

See more easy evergreens at Single-Ingredient Holiday, 10 Ideas.