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DIY holiday home decor on a budget

Say rag wreath 3 times fast and the Spirit of Holiday Frugality will appear.

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Twinkling lights! Fragrant garlands! Bright red bows and welcoming wreaths! Holiday decor is so charming…and such an expensive hassle.

If you own your home, you might feel a certain pressure to dress up your house with seasonal cheer. As a renter I totally didn’t care about lights or garlands or wreaths. As soon as I became a homeowner, my home became a reflection of me. Suddenly it was vaguely embarrassing to be the only wreath-less house on the block. I’d like my neighbors to at least think I’m a nice, festive person. (Maybe that’s a conversation for my therapist, not a home-buying blog.)

But it’s pricey, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous (ladders, anyone?) to fully deck out your house with all the trimmings. Thankfully, I am here for you with a solution that can be as cheap as FREE, can be done while watching a holiday special and only requires a minimal amount of spatial awareness: the rag wreath. You can make one for any holiday or season in about 2 hours and reuse it year after year.

What you need

    • Wreath frame. The free version of this is an old wire hanger bent into a circle. If you are willing to part with $5, search the internet or your local dollar establishment for a legitimate wreath frame like this one. The multiple wire rings create a fuller, more luxurious wreath.
    • 2 to 3 yards of fabric. You might have what you need laying around the house: try old bed sheets or men’s flannel or dress shirts (plaid is so festive!) if you don’t have a craft room filled with bargain fabric. Or shell out a few bucks for new fabric and ribbon from a craft store. Mix solids and patterns for a shabby chic feel. Just make sure to use fabric with a little natural stiffness to it, like cotton or polyester broadcloth. Silky fabrics will just look wilty and sad.
    • A scissors
    • A ruler 

What to do

    1. Prepare your fabric. Cut or tear it into strips about 1.5 inches by 9 inches long (they don’t have to be super even and regular). Pro tip: Cotton and similar fabrics tear in straight lines. Snip into your fabric every 1.5 inches, grab either side of the cut, then tear away. Cut the long strips into shorter ones of about 9 inches.
    2. Decide on a design. If you are mixing fabrics and/or ribbon, how do you want to combine them? You could alternate colors, mix them randomly, or create a complicated pattern. The possibilities are endless.
    3. Add rag strips to wreath. Fold a fabric strip in half to make a loop, thread it behind a ring of the wreath frame, then pull the ends of the strip over the wire and through the loop. Pull tight and smooth the ends away from the wreath frame. Repeat this step until your wreath is full.

Still confused? Watch me make a rag wreath in our shiny new video:

BONUS DIY holiday craft ideas

Candy Santas & Friends

These little guys are fun to make for grown-ups and kids (and you can eat them later).

What you need:

  • Mini peanut butter cups, Rolos and Hershey’s Kisses in red, gold and green
  • Tiny googly eyes
  • Cotton balls for beards
  • Brown pipe cleaners for antlers
  • Tiny pink and red pom poms for noses
  • Hot glue gun

See how to stack and glue candy and add eyes, noses, beards and antlers to make Santas, elves and reindeer in our video!

Candy Cane Hearts

These minty cool decorations are quick and foolproof! They make great ornaments. Or use them as the finishing touch on a wrapped gift (if you are terrible at wrapping, they really distract the eye from your lumpy ends and bunchy corners).

What you need:

  • 18-inch length of ribbon or twine
  • Mini candy canes
  • Hot glue gun

Just glue 2 mini candy canes together in the shape of a heart and use the twine or ribbon to tie to a gift or the tree – that’s it! But we couldn’t resist making another cheerful video for your decoration education, so check it out: