Having worked in product design here, the US and UK for the past 8 years I have spent enough time in and around retail stores to get a pretty good idea about decorating for Christmas.
I know how easy it is to walk into a retail store and see the beautiful tree, the lights and decorations and think 'I want that one!' but then you tally it up in your head and think with gifts, food and for most of us travel your decorating budget all of a sudden shrinks and you start thinking about the inevitable costs of everything else.
So i thought I would impart some ideas for you to be festive on a shoestring... because lets be honest there is a child in all of us desperate to sing carols, decorate a tree, write a santa wish list and generally get into the festive spirit...even if we have to be adults now!
So here are some guidelines;
WRAPPING...keep it simple. Buy PLAIN paper so you can use it year round. Its the thing you never really budget for, yet always need. I am anal about wrapping, love themes and continuity but this can all be done on a budget! Your garden, a garden or the side of the road make great hunting grounds for wrapping accents. The hardier and planer the better so your eucalypts, rosemary, ferns make for the perfect finishing touch to your white or kraft paper wrap.
If you have children its a perfect holiday activity to paint your wrapping paper, everyone loves something that is whimsical and creative and what child doesn't love spreading paper out on the table or pavers in the garden and get their Picasso on??! Don't be fancy, the more authentic and personal the better!
TABLE AND TREE...I feel the same goes for the table and tree as for the wrapping; keep it simple! Kraft paper runners, hand drawn placements, rosemary wreaths, there are no rules but your table is always going to be busy with food so there is need to overcrowd it with decor. Again your garden is a perfect source of material and perhaps invest each year in a piece of tableware that you can use all year round but that is a bit special rather than getting caught up in trend theming. Think the same way about your tree; whether you invest in a real tree every year, a timber tree or faux fir (haha) decorating it should be a cumulative thing. Don't go all out year one and buy a tonne of same same decorations. Your tree should be just as gorgeous naked as it is filled with decorations. I invest in one or two new decorations each year, whether it is a reminder of somewhere I have been over the festive season or a place I worked or city I have lived in each one generally costs less than $15.00 and reminds me of something special. Its also a fun activity for the children to partake in each year selecting a new decoration that they love, its fun in years to come to look back on the choices and stories behind them.
Have you noticed the influx of clay in your life recently?? Its a cottage industry taking the country markets by storm...and quietly making a tidy profit for its makers. While colours and patterns are great, its just as effective to grab some good old cookie cutters and make decorations, garlands, place settings (you name it) out of plain white clay, bake and go. They are really easy, really effective and really inexpensive!
The way I see it, Christmas is about food, fun and family. It should be relaxing, stress free and in the weeks leading up to the big day you can tap into your or your children's creative sides and create traditions that you'll look forward to year round!
Oh and one final piece of advice...be organised!!! You know that feeling of walking into the supermarket hungry...you feel like you have 'earned' every and any snack you can open while you shop and then spend twice as much as a result?? Same goes for Christmas shopping...leave it to the last minute and you'll spend way too much, over compensate and think 'ill sort it out later'... you never do!
Happy holiday prepping x