Handmade Christmas Decor

With many of us looking for ways to celebrate the festive season without putting a strain on our precious environment or on our pockets, it's a great time to think creatively about Christmas decorations.

It's always a highlight of the year for me when we get the old tree decorations out of the attic, blast the classic festive tunes and stuff our faces with mince pies. Sadly, every Christmas there seems to be another bauble casualty - an ancient brittle specimen falling foul to the ravages of time, which I can empathise with - so with each passing year I must handle them with greater care.

Vintage Christmas bauble on the tree
I think it's fair to say that I'm not a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination and I love a bit of handmade decoration to complement the tree. Having said that, the reality is that the festive season can be a ridiculously busy time; spending ages creating perfect handmade decorations is just not realistic for most of us. With that in mind, here are five of my favourite quick and simple ideas using recycled materials...

1. Bunting
This is where it pays to be a shameless hoarder like me! You can recycle old Christmas cards from previous years to make easy bunting. Top tip to save lots of time: make one template from thicker cardboard (perhaps from an old cardboard box) and draw round it for the other pieces. Gather your Christmas cards together first to work out the best size for your template (i.e. don't make the template too big for your cards).

Stack of old Christmas cards
Christmas bunting card template
Drawing round Christmas bunting card template to cut out
Use a holepunch at the top edge and thread the bunting together using ribbon or string. (I always save ribbon from gifts throughout the year. Yes, my attic is overflowing.)

Holepunching Christmas card bunting
Christmas card bunting threaded with green ribbon
Christmas card bunting with red and white string on a green background
Be sure to pack your bunting away carefully after Christmas - you can add to it with more cards as the years roll by and it may become a cherished keepsake.

2. Paper snowflakes
Indulge in some nostalgia with this classic and oh so beautiful decoration. Using any old paper you have (it doesn't even have to be white; old printouts can be fun and interesting once cut), start with a square and fold in half diagonally, in half again and then in half again (into eighths). Then you can get snipping! A mix of smaller and larger cutouts works well. Try cutting a triangle into the centre, which will become a star shape when you unfold the snowflake. Lovely!

Paper folded in half for a paper snowflake decoration
Paper snowflake folded in half and half againPaper snowflake folded and cutPaper snowflake decoration opened out
For a six-pointed snowflake, which is more authentic looking but admittedly trickier to cut as there are more layers, you need to fold in half, in half again and then into thirds (see images). Extreme paper cutting skills!

Six-pointed snowflake folded up
Six-pointed snowflake decoration being cutSix-pointed snowflake decoration with cutsSix-pointed snowflake decoration
You can extend this idea and make a gorgeous table runner for your festivities; simply glue several snowflakes together, slightly overlapping, along the length of your table. Ta-da!

Paper snowflake table runner

3. Paper baubles
SO simple. SO effective. Cut out eight circles from any paper you like (two different tones work well). You can make these quite small (I drew around a glass) so it's a great way of using up small scraps of paper that might go to waste.

Paper bauble circles folded in half
Fold each circle in half and glue the half circles to each other to create a book effect. Stick the first and last half circles together to form the spherical bauble.

Paper bauble
You can then attach thread or string to hang your decoration, either by using a needle to push the thread through the top of the bauble or by tying a length of thread around the bauble vertically (see pictures below!).

Paper bauble with string
Paper bauble hanging

4. Loo roll stars
These are simply genius. I came across this idea a couple of years ago and was in awe of how effective and beautiful it was. It's a little bit fiddlier than the other ideas here, perhaps, but worth the extra effort! There's not really an easy way to explain this one without images so hopefully the step-by-step shots will suffice. Craft glue (I like Beacon 3-in-1 Advanced Craft Glue but be careful around little fingers) or a hot glue gun (again, with care) works best for attaching the pieces to each other.

Loo roll pieces for star Christmas decoration
Loo roll star glued piecex
Loo roll star hanging with brown twine
What I really love about this idea is that you can make your star structure as simple or complex as you like, meaning it's accessible for all ages. Keep the kraft effect of the original roll or paint in festive colours or even pure white then thread a ribbon or string through and it's ready to hang.
NB: You can use kitchen towel inners if you prefer

5. Candles in jars
This is such a simple one but worth mentioning as it creates instant cosy vibes. Think #projectatmosphere in the pub when they dim the lights at 8pm. Any old jar will do and if you have some white bath salts (or sea salt flakes), you can even replicate a snow drift inside your jar. Pop a candle inside (tealights are perfect) and you're all set.

tealight in jar with sea salt flakesTealight in jar with sea salt flakes and holly with berries
As a safer alternative to real candles, you can use battery tealights. Battery tealights can also be used with handmade paper lanterns; my Winter Art Set includes a paper lantern project if you're interested in this idea.

Enjoy making your handmade decorations, infused with charm, creativity and perfect imperfections!

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