How to decorate your Christmas tree on a budget
Christmas can be expensive but you can have a stunning tree without spending a fortune
However hard you try to have an inexpensive Christmas the costs always seem to escalate, so anything we can do to save a few pounds is worth considering. Investing in a good quality artificial Christmas tree and LED lights always pays off in the long term, but often leaves very little money to spend on decorations. The Christmas tree is one area where you can make some fantastic decorations which would be quite costly to buy and you can gradually replace them with some more expensive pieces. These projects are also a fun way to keep children entertained and will let them use their creative talents. Step one is to dry some citrus fruit slices in the oven. This is really easy just cut the fruits into slices about 5mm thick and place on a baking sheet in the oven after you have been cooking and it has been turned off. Leave in the warm oven for a few hours until they have dried. Whole lemons and limes can also be dried in the same manner, just cut through the peel all the way around the fruit from the stalk to the base. These will take considerably more time to dry than the slices so the oven may have to left on the lowest setting.
The next step is to go round the garden or for a walk in the countryside and gather twigs; these can be bundled together and sprayed with a florists colour then placed into the tree to fill any gaps or to use as a tree topper. The stems of twisted hazel and willow look fantastic sprayed and cost a fortune to buy. There are masses of colours available, you could also use spray snow or else paint them with a weak solution of PVA glue then sprinkle them with glitter.
You can also spray ornamental seed heads such as teasels, Eryngium, poppy, cardoon and hydrangea and of course, pine cones. Leaves and berries, such as rosehip, holly, Skimmia and hawthorn also look great sprayed completely or just the edges touched with snow, gold or glitter. The disadvantage of using the fresh green vegetation is that you have to do it close to Christmas Day otherwise it will be shrivelled and most unattractive, especially in a warm room.
To make the single decoration just twist some thin florists wire round the whole citrus or pine cones and then attach a piece of ribbon or raffia. Thread the slices onto thin gold wire, raffia or ribbon, you can also add short pieces of cinnamon. The dried fruit that we have used on the tree have been partially sprayed with snow and glitter.
We also made some garlands out of raffia, cones, cinnamon sticks and dried fruit as this type of decoration went with our natural/traditional tree decoration theme. The raffia was plaited to make it a bit more substantial then the pieces glued onto it using a hot melt glue gun. If you are doing this project with children then please use cold glue as both the hot glue and the gun can cause substantial burns. If you want a trendier look to your tree you can use glittered thread instead of raffia and then decorate with groups of beads or buttons. Frosted and snowy artificial Christmas trees have become really popular in recent years and if you buy one already decorated with natural cones then you don't need as many home-made decorations. Stick to a woodland or Scandi palette which really suits foraged natural products. Click here to read the blog giving you tips on how to decorate in the Scandi style.
Watch the video showing how we decorated an artificial Christmas tree.
When it comes to placing the actual decorations on the tree start with the largest pieces and work down to the smallest. Our largest pieces are the ribbon and the garlands so I placed the ribbon in streamers from the top to the bottom of the tree. You could also place the ribbon going round the tree, cut it into lengths and place randomly or make into bows. Use wired ribbon as it gives you more form and is much easier to manipulate; I used a 10m roll which cost about £10 and gave me all the streamers plus a small bow for the top. Smaller rolls are much dearer as some of them are only about 1.5 – 2m and are not long enough to go from the top to the bottom of a large tree. The garlands were then placed vertically in-between the ribbon streamers.
We also made some larger decorations out of twigs, just simple stars which are two equilateral triangles placed one on top of the other. The triangles can be secured with a dot of glue then tied with raffia or metallic twine. We have decorated ours with a selection of scraps of artificial berries, the dried fruit slices and glittered pine cones. They can of course be made a small or as large as you wish. As these are the largest pieces they have been placed near the bottom of the tree.
Once the large pieces are in place and look balanced all there is left to do is fill in the gaps with the smaller pieces. For the baubles we have just used a tub of fairly inexpensive shatterproof decorations; these have really improved in recent years and some of the better quality ones are almost indistinguishable from glass. If you have a big tree and don’t have many large pieces just wire together two or three baubles. We haven’t gone to the expense of buying specialised bauble hooks but are using the green garden clip wire to keep down the cost.
To check for gaps just keep standing back and they immediately become obvious. The tree topper was kept really simple, just some of the twisted hazel sprayed gold and a bow at the base of the twigs. There are plenty of decorations you can make, you don’t need to decorate the whole tree but you can fill any gaps rather than buying new.