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December 19, 2020
The best thing about holidays is tradition – the things we do every year that herald that these days are not like the rest. They can be as big as an annual feast with special dishes and customs, or as small as pulling out the festive mugs and hand towels. Whether your traditions involve generations of extended family or close friends, years and years of history or the benefit of freshness, this year many of our traditions have been up-ended. With large family gatherings and big outings and festive live entertainment all being non-options in 2020, many of us are finding ourselves having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit. Being away from people we love has become the status quo this year, but somehow it feels much lonelier during this time of year.
Since we’re stuck inside and away from our loved ones, the best way to give ourselves a little boost of festive feels is to give our homes a big ol’ dose of holiday cheer. This is the year to go ham with decorations and transformations and turn your space into a gingerbread-scented maelstrom of mistletoe and tinsel with your own two hands! Besides baking up a storm (anyone else binging all the holiday specials of GBBO?), there’s a multitude of fun and festive DIYs you can do to get your home looking its holiday best – and to get you in the groove of the holiday season!
A COTTAGECORE CHRISTMAS
Do the sweet rustic vibes of the cottagecore aesthetic set your heart a-flutter? (For those of us who aren’t Tiktok enthusiasts or members of Gen-Z, cottagecore is a nostalgic aesthetic that embraces rural life, nature and crafts.) As we head into the new year, sustainability is something we’re thinking about a lot, and homey, cozy crafts using easily found objects have a lot of appeal for us. Even if rustic stylings aren’t your thing, there are lots of ways to take these crafts, and give ‘em an updated spin!
To add some cozy charm – and sweet smells – to your space, consider drying out some orange slices. Cut oranges into slices (don’t bother keeping the rind-y edges) and bake them in the oven for four hours at about 200° F on a cooling rack or on a sheet lined with parchment paper, flipping them once an hour. They’ll shrink up, and once they come out, transfer them to a room-temp sheet and let them cool down. There’s so much you can do with these sweet, sunny disks. Stringing them neatly will give you a beautiful, festive garland: you can go super traditional and add some popcorn to the string, or make it a little more fun by alternating the dried orange slices with chocolate coins. If garlands aren’t it for you, take the slices one by one and grab your hot glue gun to attach some little branches and red berries for a lovely little ornament.
If citrus isn’t your bag, why not try pinecones? Collect the little cuties from your yard, give ‘em a short bake in the oven (about 40 mins at 245° F) and you’ve got perfect materials for all different kinds of diys. You can keep them natural, dip them in paint (we’d suggest Quartzite, from our recycled line) or gild just the edges, and string them like your orange slices, pile them in a bowl, or build yourself a festive friend with the pinecone as the body!
DOLLAR STORE DIYs
The dollar store is the best one-stop shop for all kinds of materials for DIYs of all kinds and styles. Glassware, ornaments, canvases, paints, tools - you can find absolutely anything you might need to help transform your home into a winter wonderland.
If kitsch is your game, try bulking up on wrapping paper - no, not just for prepping your gifts. You can use wrapping paper of all kinds, from bright and busy to subtle and sophisticated, to wrap a canvas from the art aisle for an adorable piece of festive art. You can even buy a funky frame and replace the lovely stock image with a panel of wrapping paper.
For something a bit funkier, pick up some taper candles and some paint. Fill your sink with hot water, slip some candles in, and let them get a bit warm. You’ll find they get super pliable - perfect for molding into fun shapes and twists and turns! For best results, do this in the water; it’ll keep them from cracking. Make all sorts of knots and swirls, and when you’re happy, take them out of the water and let them cool. For these purposes, candles in holiday colors like white, red, green and gold will work best, but for a really festive touch, grab a metallic paint. You can paint cute little designs, polka dots, or fill a little tub with some paint and do a slick dip-dye. This is a DIY you’ll be able to do at any time of year!
The dollar store is also a great place to get ornaments that just need some extra love. Buy a garland from the fake flowers section, run some fairy lights through it, and drape along a mantle or a banister. Buy some ornaments, some glue and a little bit of glitter, and in a flash your home will be glitzy and glam. Some dollar stores even have clear ball ornaments that you can unscrew and fill with glitter, beads, whatever paraphernalia you like.
For bonus nostalgia points, go thrifting or raid your elderly relative’s garages for memorabilia, vintage decor and upcyclables. Repurposing old or vintages items and materials is a great way to stay sustainable and evoke good memories while bringing something new into your space. Got some old Christmas cards in a drawer somewhere, but not in the mood to string them up as in days gone by? Framing them is a great way to keep them from deteriorating while also giving them a slightly more modern edge.
They just don’t make tchotchkes like they used to. Festive trinkets are a great reason to visit your local thrift shop or do a deep dive in some old boxes. Those beautiful green ceramic trees with little colored bulbs never really go out of style, and vintage nutcrackers have a special wonder all their own.
Thrifted finds are also perfect for reinvention. Jars, mugs, plates, vases - all of these can be purchased for dirt cheap and turned into something lovely. Decorate a jar, and then fill it with some homemade granola. Personalize cute little dishes for trinkets and jewellery. Paint a vase and fill it with dried or paper flowers. Lots of thrift stores sell scraps of fabric - find some festive flannels or cute little prints, and frame them, the exact same way you could with wallpaper. The possibilities for repurposing are truly endless!
Breaking tradition is harder said than done, and often leaves us missing what we’ve had to leave behind. However, there’s no better way to find some holiday spirit than to create new traditions, to take our cheer in our own hands and make something of it. Creating festive adornments for our homes, which have taken on so many new responsibilities in the past few months, is a great way to celebrate this auspicious season and give thanks for the things we’ve learned along the way. Maybe you’ll create something so special it becomes the first piece of festive decor you take out of the box, or maybe you’ll discover a craft you do anew each year. Whatever you find as you dress your home for the holidays, from the Decorner family to yours, we give you our gladdest tidings, and send you loads of festive DIY cheer.
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