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Squid & Birch is a lettering and design shop offering prints, cards, and flair for fans of all things nerdy and cheeky.

Getting Festive on the Cheap

Getting Festive on the Cheap

The White Christmas station is playing, a mug of cocoa is steaming beside me, and I'm surrounded by little holiday scenes in my home.  I love this time of year!

I didn't want to take on a whole lot in the decorating department this month, with two big motivators for this choice.  First, I'm really focused on getting my freezer stocked and my home ready for the newborn who will join us at any moment, so I'm trying to keep my to-do list light otherwise.  Second, as a one-income-family, we keep a tight budget; since most of our fun money goes toward gifts and Christmas cards this time of year, there isn't much to devote to home decor.  

There's great news, though:  As I'm drawn to simple, rustic decor anyway, the decision to keep my holiday flair low-maintenance was not a tough one for me.  Even though I wanted to change up my Christmas look this year, I found the solution in shopping my home and basement for items that I already owned and could repurpose.

Our fireplace is the first thing people see when they enter our home, so that's where I start when it comes to seasonal decorating.  I like asymmetry in a mantle design and this chippy green shutter that was hanging out in my basement was calling my name.  While wooden letters or -- better yet -- some lighted marquee letters spelling out "joy" would have been extra special, I thought the expense would be silly for just four weeks of display time.  So I painted a piece of cardboard with bright red craft paint and cut out the letters myself.

Next, I added a simple flowering garland I had along with some ancient pinecones.  I gave my trusty pillar candles a Christmas makeover with burlap, faux-liage, and baker's twine, placing them on a wooden platter from my kitchen atop some books for a little boost.  The buffalo-check tin was a housewarming gift from my sister last year and I love the way it looks with my burlap C, dressed up in a festive bow, on top.  The gold and white paper bird garland is the only new item among the mantle elements.  My mom gave it to me a couple of weeks ago, stating that I could purpose it however I wanted to -- it just "looked like me".  Boy, does she know me.

Our family stockings hang from the mantle.  While I did not sew these myself, I purchased plain stockings in years past and personalized them with cheap crafting supplies including fabric scraps, small wooden letters and craft paint, greenery, clothespins, baubles from the jewelry aisle, and ribbon.  I have an extra nail ready and waiting for the new stocking I'll embellish if baby #2 arrives in time for our Christmas celebration.

While I enjoy creating larger centerpieces for special meals, my everyday table decor has to be simple and mobile, as our dining table also functions as my sewing studio and gift wrapping station.  A red rattan placemat with a delightfully tarnished gold snowflake surround and little white votives proved the perfect solution and I already had them all in my stash.  The snowy trees with burlap bases were among my only new purchases this year; at $3 each from my favorite local decor source, I couldn't pass up their sweetness.  Between meals, I can easily lift the whole number by the sturdy placemat and transfer it to the counter to make room for crafting.

It took some convincing (of only myself) that forgoing a real tree this year was the right move.  I so love the ritual of unpacking ornaments from a lifetime of Christmases and decking out a tree of lights in our home.  But our living space is quite small and requires considerable furniture rearrangement to accommodate a tree.  I knew we wouldn't want to take on the task of undoing all that after the holiday with a newborn to tend to, so we decided to skip it.  This simple vignette of an old wooden tree next to a homemade mason jar snow globe on a festive tea towel almost fills the tree void.

I get my nostalgia fix from the Snow Village that sits atop our piano.  Every piece brings back childhood memories and I love talking about all the buildings and people with my little one.

Placing greenery and small holiday prints in little nooks around the home also goes a long way toward creating a festive space.  Repurposing greeting cards and calendar pages is one of my favorite ways to save money on decor.

Clockwise from top left: A greeting card from this shop hanging above the desk in our office space, some evergreen and tiny pinecones in my mason jar planter, a happy print from a favorite designer in the dining room, and a calendar page in my kitchen.

I truly enjoy making our home a special place for our family this time of year and it's been so fun doing it creatively without spending our hard-earned dough.  I hope you're enjoying getting your home ready for the holidays, too!

Gift Wrapping

Gift Wrapping

Chocolate Pecan Tassies

Chocolate Pecan Tassies