Decorating for Christmas does not need to be expensive or time consuming. Make your own creative Christmas decorations using inexpensive materials and supplies. Each of the following projects includes an estimated cost of completion. Items not included in the cost are basic craft supplies, paints, glues, and recyclables you most likely already have or can easily acquire for pennies or free.
Gelatin Mold Peppermint Wreath
Hang a yummy wreath on your front door to greet your guests this year. This project was made using a thrift store gelatin mold. A secondhand mold is recommended for this project. While gelatin molds can be purchased new, inexpensive molds can be found for less than $2 at thrift stores, yard sales, and auctions. You may also be lucky enough to find a never-used one for free in your own cupboard.
The estimated cost of this project is less than $5 and it can be completed in a few hours.
- Old metal gelatin mold pan (round)
- White spray paint
- 1/2 yard red plaid cotton fabric
- Measuring tape
- Small amount craft wire
- Wire cutters
- Christmas floral pick
- Hot glue gun
- Jute twine
- Spray paint the outside bottom and sides of an old metal gelatin mold pan using white spray paint. Allow the paint to dry.
- Rip eight 2-inch-wide by 40-inch-long strips of red plaid cotton fabric.
- Wrap one strip through the center and outside of the mold. Tie in a knot to secure. Slide the knot to the center of the mold.
- Continue to wrap the remainder of the strips, evenly spacing them apart.
- Gather all the tails from each tied strip together. Wind a small bit of craft wire around the base of the tails. The gathered strips will resemble a ponytail.
- Divide the ponytail into two bundles with eight tails each. Tie the two bundles into one big bow. Tuck the tails of the bow underneath it.
- Separate each loop of the bow to fill the inside of the wreath.
- Hot glue a Christmas floral pick to the center of the bow.
- Wrap jute around one side and through the center of the mold. Tie into a knot to create the wreath hanger.
Fence Picket Snowman
Standing sentry at your front door, Mr. Frosty is ready to play or greet friends and family. This snowman was created using a recycled fence picket, but even new, a fence picket is less than $2. You may already have an old stocking cap, but if you need to purchase one, check thrift stores or dollar stores for the best price.
Estimated cost of this project is less than $5, or much less if you are using recycled materials. He can be completed in an afternoon. Most of that time is drying time that will allow you to do other things while waiting.
- 5 1/2-inch-wide by 6-feet-tall fence picket
- Craft paints in white, black, red, and orange
- Paintbrushes - 2-inch wall brush, artist brush, and stencil brush
- Paper plate
- 3/4-inch wood dowel scrap
- 1/4-inch wood dowel scrap
- Wood skewer
- Stocking cap
- 1/6-yard plaid cotton fabric, 44-inch-wide
- Craft glue (optional)
- Dry brush white craft paint to one side of a 5 1/2-inch-wide fence picket. Allow the paint to dry.
- Place a stocking cap over the top of the picket. If the cap is loose, or you would prefer a more permanent hold, apply craft glue under the edge of the cap to secure.
- Rip a 6-inch-wide by 44-inch-wide strip of plaid cotton fabric. Tie the strip around the picket 6 inches below the cap. The space between the cap and the scarf is the face of the snowman. Note: An old winter scarf can be substituted for the fabric strip.
- If you are working on the snowman with the picket standing upright, lay it flat at this time. Dip a stencil brush into red craft paint. Pounce and brush the bristles onto a paper plate until most of the paint has been worked off. Pounce two large cheeks in the center of the snowman's face.
- Dip the end of a 3/4-inch wood dowel scrap in black craft paint. Dot two eyes 2 inches below the cap edge and spaced 1/2 inch apart.
- Dip the end of a 1/4-inch wood dowel scrap in black craft paint. Dot seven dots to form a smile from one cheek to the other.
- Paint a 2-inch triangle carrot nose using orange craft paint and an artist brush.
- Dip the 3/4-inch dowel in black paint and dot three buttons down the front of the snowman. Place the first button 3 inches below the scarf and space the remaining buttons approximately 2 inches apart. Allow the paint to dry.
- Dip the blunt end of a wood skewer in white paint. Dot highlights at the top edge of each eye. Allow the paint to dry before standing the snowman upright again.
Landscaping Brick Gingerbread Man
Check your leftover supplies from previous landscape projects for an edging brick to make this adorable gingerbread man. He will be a great addition to your fireplace hearth. If you don't happen to have an edging brick lying around, they are available at your local home improvement store for approximately $1.50. You can also substitute masonry bricks or other stone edgers in slightly different shapes.
An approximate estimate of the cost of this project is $3 and it can be completed in less than two hours, including drying time.
- Landscape edging brick
- Craft paints - caramel/beige, red, black, white
- Stencil brush
- Measuring tape
- 1/4-inch wood dowel
- Wood skewer
- Black permanent marker - fine-point
- Red and white plaid cotton fabric scrap
- White paint pen
- Paint all sides of an landscape edging brick using caramel/beige craft paint. Allow the paint to dry.
- Lay the brick on your work surface with the side you want as the front facing up. Dip a stencil brush into red craft paint. Pounce and brush the bristles onto a paper plate until most of the paint has been worked off. Working in a circular motion, shade a red border around the entire front edge. Pounce two 1-inch cheeks approximately 2 inches below the top edge of the brick.
- Dip a 1/4-inch wood dowel scrap in black craft paint. Dot two eyes approximately 1 3/4 inches below the top edge and spaced 1/8-inch apart.
- Dip the blunt end of a wood skewer in black paint. Dot a nose approximately 1/4-inch below the eyes.
- Draw a smile on the face using a fine-point, black permanent marker.
- Dip the 1/4-inch dowel in black paint and dot buttons down the front starting approximately 6 inches below the top edge and spaced 3/4 inch apart. Allow the paint to dry.
- Dip the blunt end of the skewer in white paint. Dot two highlights on the top edge of each cheek and the top edge of each eye.
- Using a white paint pen, draw wavy frosting lines across the width of the gingerbread man 1 inch below the top and 1 inch above the bottom. Allow the paint to dry before standing the brick up.
- Rip a 1-inch-wide by 27-inch long strip from red and white plaid cotton fabric. Wrap the strip around the brick and tie in a bow below the smile.
Craft Stick Star Ornament
The craft sticks (aka Popsicle sticks) used to form this star ornament can be purchased for a couple of dollars. The package of sticks will have many more than the five needed for the star, allowing you to make several. If you serve Popsicles for dessert tonight, this project could be considered a no-cost winner if you save the sticks. Make stars for your tree or add them to wrapped packages.
The estimated cost of this project is free to $2. Actual working time for this ornament is less than an hour, but you will need to allow several hours for the glue to dry.
- 5 craft sticks
- Brown craft paint
- Paper towel
- Craft glue
- 5 clothespins
- Jute twine - natural and red
- Heavily apply brown craft paint to a craft stick. Quickly wipe off the paint using a paper towel. This creates the stain on the stick. Repeat on the remaining four craft sticks.
- Stack and criss-cross the sticks to form a star. Note: The sticks will form a star that resembles the stars teachers draw on top of excellent school papers. Apply glue between the ends of each star-point connection. Clip the ends with a clothespin until the glue has dried.
- Tie a bit of natural jute twine around each inner corner of the star and tie into a knot. Clip the ends of the twine.
- Cut an 8-inch length of red jute twine. Bring the ends together and tie in an overhand knot 1/2 inch from the end. This is your hanger. Insert the folded end of the hanger through the triangle of one star point from the front to the back. Fold the knotted end to the back and insert through the fold of the hanger. Pull the knot to secure the hanger to the star.
Wrapped Candy Cane
Lawn candy canes come in a variety of sizes. Any size can be used for this project and they will look cute hanging from a hook, tucked in a tree, or leaning against the wall. If you have plastic candy cane lights that no longer light up, you can remove the lights and recycle the canes into these wrapped candy canes. They are also widely available at thrift stores and yard sales.
Estimated cost of this project if you are purchasing a candy cane new is $3, or much less if you are recycling. The candy cane can be completed in less than an hour.
- Plastic lawn candy cane
- Old blue jeans
- Measuring tape
- Hot glue gun
- Craft glue
- Red cotton fabric - scrap
- Pine floral pick
- Cut two 3-inch squares from a pair of old blue jeans.
- Apply a line of hot glue around a plastic lawn candy cane just above the bottom edge. Place one 3-inch denim square over the cane end and fold it over the hot glue. Repeat with the remaining square on the other end of the cane.
- Rip 1 1/2-inch wide strips vertically from the legs of old blue jeans. The amount needed will depend on your application to the candy cane, but five strips from an adult-size pair of jeans should be plenty.
- Apply hot glue to the wrong side on one end of a jean strip. Attach the end vertically above the bottom edge. Apply a 6-inch line of craft glue up one side of the cane. Wrap the strip in a spiral around the cane. Add to the line of craft glue if needed. Hot glue the end of the strip to the cane. Overlap the ends and hot glue the next strip. Apply craft glue, wrap the strip and repeat until the entire cane has been covered.
- Rip 1 1/2-inch wide strips of red cotton fabric. You will not need as many of these strips as the jeans.
- Hot glue the strip to the end. Wrap the strip around the cane, allowing the blue jeans to peek through between each spiral. Add strips as needed until the entire cane has been covered.
- Rip a 2 1/2-inch-wide by 24-inch strip from the red cotton fabric. Place a pine floral pick below the crook of the cane. Wrap the strip around the cane and pick. Tie the strip into a bow. Trim the ends as desired.
Free Craft Supplies
When reading a supply list for a craft you are interested in making, do not be deterred if an item is listed that you don't have or can't afford. Tweak the list with free supplies. Your clothes closets and linen cupboards are probably overflowing with an abundance of unused fabric options. Don't forget those leftover items from home improvement projects. A partially full can of wall paint and wood scraps can offer a multitude of Christmas craft options. Then, of course, there are your family and friends who are probably more than happy to give you their unused items, especially if it means you may gift them with the fruits of your labor.