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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

Getting Festive: Holiday Decor

Another Thanksgiving is in the books, fabulous Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals have been had, and now we’re on the fast track to Christmas time. It’s an exciting time of year and it’s one that I love not because of the presents and giving (those are pretty great, mind you) but because of the decorating. I love Christmas decorations. I love that they come in just about every color you can imagine, they can be religious or not religious, and that so many of them are steeped in cultural traditions. The day after Thanksgiving while most people are dealing with mobs at the mall or recovering from having dealt with those mobs I’m at home and up to my eyeballs in tinsel as my house pukes Christmas. It’s glorious, but it’s also a challenge.

For someone who loves Christmas decorating as much as I do, I don’t actually have all that much in the way of decorations. I’m also not a natural decorator. Factor in a cat who thinks that Christmas trees are for him to climb up and sleep in and every holiday season I have to get creative and, sometimes, crafty. Turns out getting festive with your home or even small space is actually pretty easy and it can be done with limited time and money. Here are my favorite tips, tricks, deals, and tutorials for holiday decorations to bring cheer to your living space.


Credit: Nicole Drum

Cheer on the cheap:

I took a stroll through the holiday sections of some major retailers a few weeks ago with the intention of getting some new decor. This year, I had decided, I was essentially going to buy pre-made and selected items to make my life easier. That’s when I discovered that convenience comes with a hefty price tag. I couldn’t justify spending half my paycheck on things so I decided to turn instead to places I knew I could find cheap things: the Dollar Spot at Target and the dollar store.

Dollar bins or stores are a treasure trove for finding cute seasonal decor. They carry lots of neat little things that can be put together to make a fun look. The trick is to go into your shopping with a plan. In my case because I know that my cat thinks trees are for climbing I know that I can’t have a real tree or even anything that is tree like. I also know that I have a handful of things that I love and put out every year (namely my Yule Goat and my Nordstrom holiday snow globes) so I was looking largely just to augment what I had. What I was able to find was enough to fancy up my mantle, give me a tree of sorts, and work with what I already had for under ten dollars. At Target, I picked up a green Christmas tree bunting banner to hang on the mantle for three dollars while at the dollar store I spent five dollars and got three ceramic letters to spell out “joy” and two packets of tiny ornaments. I filled up a sentimental shot glass with the ornaments and put it all together in about twenty minutes. Less than ten bucks and less than half an hour later and I created my favorite spot of the house.

Handmade holiday:

As much as I love the dollar spots they didn’t have quite everything to fit my holiday aesthetic this year. As I’m going for a sentimental, throwback to my childhood holiday theme there was admittedly more than a few things at the dollar spots that didn’t work for me. A Spongebob ornament wasn’t cutting it. To solve this gap in my decor I turned to DIY.

  • Project #1: Christmas pictures
    I love some of the pretty pictures and hangings I see for the holidays. I also love pretty wrapping paper. What I don’t love is the price tag on the pictures and I hate wasting paper. An easy way to solve this and decorate my house was to pick up some cheap picture frames (I opted for the Ikea frames in black) and then cut rectangles of wrapping paper and Christmas cards I liked to put into the frames. As the frames come with their own mats and you can get the frames in various sizes the options are endless.
  • Project #2: Ornament wreath
    I love those pretty glass ball ornaments. I have several from my childhood that I’ve kept not to mention a whole box of pretty black ones that I picked up while after-Christmas shopping with my grandmother one year. Because I can’t put up a tree (have I mentioned my cat yet?) my ornaments are in danger of staying put away forever. That’s no fun, but glue guns are fun so this tutorial pairs those pretty ornaments with a fun glue gun to create a really pretty wreath. I think something like this is fun to hang in various sizes going down a hall, in the window, or yes, even on the door.
  • Project #3: Ornament hangings
    Keeping in theme with the idea of framed wall decor I discovered this gem of an idea while looking for how to make a wreath. Pick up an inexpensive shadow-box style frame, fill it with ornaments, and boom. Another pretty piece of art. I’m thinking of mixing this up by adding not just ball ornaments, but stars as well.

Festive and free:

Many of my decorations are meaningful for me and that is because they came from the homes of family and friends. Every time I take them out I get to think of the person who had it before me. Pre-loved decorations are more than sentimental, though. They are often free. Over the years I’ve picked up things from my parents, for sure, but I’ve also gotten things from friends. Have some friends that are moving and wanting to get rid of stuff? Know someone who buys new decorations every year? It never hurts to ask them if you can have their unwanted decorations. A couple of my favorite items came from friends just tossing things out. You never know what they might have and that also makes them part of your holiday! Another good source? Freecycle. Pop in your city and see who is offering what. I’ve gotten some neat things on there.

The holidays are super fun but as you can see they don’t have to be super stressful or super fancy when it comes to decorating. With the tips I’ve mentioned I’m sure you’ll come up with a great and inviting home for the holidays. Be sure to share in comments your creations! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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