15 easy DIY Christmas tree decorations
1. Baker's clay ornaments
Get everyone together to stir up a batch of baker's clay and create homemade ornaments that will set your tree apart this holiday season. Baker's clay is easy to mix. Just combine 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, and 1.5 cups of warm water and mix thoroughly. Roll out the clay, cut it into shapes with cookie cutters or mold your own angels, snowmen and Santas. (If you're going freehand, putting baker's clay through a garlic press is a great way to make flowing hair and beards.)
Make a small hole through the top of the clay ornament or insert a metal hanger such as half a paper clip. Bake your ornaments in a 300-degree oven for 30 minutes or more, let them cool, and then decorate them with acrylic or poster paints. When Christmas is over, store your ornaments in an airtight cookie tin or gift box and use them again next year.
2. Tree of cards
Some of the most interesting do-it-yourself holiday projects involve little more than taking a different approach to something you're already doing. This year, when all of those annual holiday cards start to arrive, walk right past the mantel and the refrigerator and display them on your tree instead.
Use a standard hole punch to make a small hole near the top of the card, string a ribbon through the hole, and then tie it off to create a loop you can slip over a tree branch. The more cards you receive as the holidays progress, the more festive your tree will look.
3. Tasteful garlands
Take a page from your grandparents' holiday decorating book and make a few old-fashioned garlands for your tree. Try stringing popcorn or cranberries. All you need is a needle, a thimble, some sturdy thread and a little patience.
Once you have a good long string of either popcorn or cranberries, knot the end of the thread and drape the garland gracefully over the branches of your tree. Just start at the top and work your way down and around.
4. White paper ornaments
Plain white paper makes a great medium for DIY Christmas tree ornaments -- and what could be simpler? Start with a sturdy, brilliant-white paper, either heavy bond or light card stock, and then cut out shapes that are a good fit for both the color and the season. Doves, snowflakes, angels and snowmen are all good choices. Use a punch to make a hole in the right spot, tie a loop of ribbon for a hanger, and voilà!
5. Paper chains
With construction paper and a little glue, you can make decorative paper chains that will serve as garlands festive enough for any tree. Go simple by cutting strips of construction paper in different colors, gluing together the ends of one strip to create a loop that will be the first link in your chain, and then threading a new strip through each subsequent link, before gluing the ends, to create your chain.
For a more interesting look, cut the strips into various shapes before gluing them into links, or make vertical cuts down the length of alternating strips (leaving about a half-inch at each end for gluing) to create an accordion effect.
6. Holiday bows
Bows aren't reserved exclusively for gifts during the holidays; they also make great DIY tree decorations. Buy a few rolls of grosgrain ribbon in either festive patterns or solid hues such as red, silver or gold, and use it to tie oversized bows in places where your tree could use a little extra color and texture. You may need a little practice to get the bows looking just right, but the result will be well worth the effort.
7. Painted pine cones
Take a winter hike to gather a few pine cones, or purchase some from your local florist or nursery. Spray paint the cones silver or gold, and then attach ribbon or wire as hangers. Looking for something less artificial? Skip the paint and hang your pine cones on the tree au naturel.
8. Picture this
When it comes to making your own Christmas tree ornaments, a photocopier that makes color copies can be your best friend. Check thrift shops or your own bookshelves for interesting and brightly colored images. A vintage Audubon book could provide photos or paintings that translate into lifelike bird ornaments for your tree, or the Victorian Santas pictured on old Christmas cards may yield a wealth of vintage images. Turn them into ornaments by color-copying them onto card stock, carefully cutting out the images, punching holes at the tops and using loops of ribbon to hang them on the tree.
9. Framed ornaments
Purchase a few miniature nickel frames in oval, square and diamond shapes, and then start searching for interesting designs to fill them. Wrapping paper and fabric remnants are good places to start. After you find the designs you want to use, cut them out and glue them to card stock, put them in your frames, and use ribbon to make hangers.
10. Get hip
Rose hips are brightly colored and look like oversized berries. Purchase some from a florist or just gather them from your garden and get to work. Select a short stem that holds several rose hips, or tape a few stems together to get the number of rose hips you want, suspend them from a loop of ribbon and hang them on your tree. After the holidays, you can either dismantle these ornaments and compost the rose hips or save them to use again next year.