There’s no getting around it: the holidays are an expensive time of year. Between presents, travel expenses, celebratory dinners, and holiday décor, your budget will likely be put to the test. While there’s no controlling the cost of flights around Christmastime, you can control how much you spend decking your halls. Our advice? Opt to DIY much of your festive décor (for a fraction of the cost) instead.
So many of your favorite Christmas decorations—wreaths, advent calendars, and garland, for starters—can be recreated yourself with minor DIY skills and inexpensive materials. Plus, DIY-ing makes for either quality time with your loved ones or revered alone time, both equally priceless.
Whether your style is traditional or modern, colorful or neutral, we’ve gathered the best DIY Christmas decorations that’ll have you headed straight to the craft store. Just be sure not to take your crafting skills too seriously; that way you'll keep the process fun, not frustrating.
Swedish Candle Wreath
Erin Francois of Francois et Moi tapped into her Swedish heritage to create this simple, beautiful candle wreath. When we say simple, we mean simple. Tie wire eucalyptus sprigs to a brass hoop using floral wire, then clip on the candle and add a leather hanger. Voila! How beautiful would these be in your windows?
Note that the candle is more of a decorative component than a light source; if you do light the candle, do not leave it unattended.
Hand-Painted Wood Ornaments
With just $20 in materials, Paper & Stitch DIY’d plain wood ornaments into these one-of-a-kind handmade designs. They’re beautiful, economical, and allow you to create ornaments in exactly the color combination you’re looking for—shopping in traditional stores can be tricky if you’re not the red and green type.
Stick to one color scheme and a few designs to create a cohesive look. One caveat: be prepared to answer, “You made those?” over and over.
Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar
If you like the idea of an advent calendar, but the thought of bringing more presents or candy into your house is a no-go, here’s a new twist on the classic Christmas tradition: an acts of kindness advent calendar. Pop over to Lovely Indeed for the free printables and instructions. It’ll take about three hours to make, then contribute to weeks' worth of warm fuzzies.
Homemade Holiday Place Cards
Hosting a holiday dinner? These DIY place cards will prove you are the hostess with the mostess. Fashionable Hostess offers instructions for four different place card settings using fresh rosemary and rustic greens that are as beautiful as they are easy to make. Your guests are sure to be impressed.
Bottle Brush Tree Centerpiece
The bottle brush tree obsession continues, and for good reason: they’re oh-so-cute and are incredibly versatile throughout all your holiday décor. For instance, with a couple of quick DIY steps, they can transform into a bright, joyous centerpiece for all your holiday dinners.
Here, Sugar & Cloth spirals faux flower buds around colorful bottle brush trees, then dusts them with fake snow. No matter how delicious your dinner is, these sweet little centerpieces are bound to be the stars of the night.
Christmas Tree with Foraged Materials
When sticking to a tight holiday decorating budget, look no further than Mother Nature for supplies. To jazz up her flocked Christmas tree, Cara from Goldalamode gathered dried and foraged goods from around her yard and neighborhood.
“Travel with hedge clippers, friends,” she laughs. Jokes aside, pampas grass and dried hydrangeas add texture and depth to a tree without adding to holiday expenses.
Rustic Christmas Tree DIY
How brilliant are these DIY Christmas trees? Thank Wild Rose Country Home for this décor idea, which uses cedar shims, paint, and hot glue to build easy-as-can-be homemade trees. Create an array of them in varying sizes, then wrap them in twinkle lights to make for festive mantle décor.
Try an Asymmetrical Wreath
Would you believe us that this giant asymmetrical wreath costs less than $10 to make? Well, believe it. Simply using tree trimmings and pine board, Paper & Stitch created this oversized, outstanding wreath. (It’s over three feet tall!)
To add a pop of color, add fresh flowers wired in with water vials to one corner of the wreath.
Christmas Balloon Garland Tree
Everyone loves a balloon garland, but how about taking it one step further? There’s nothing subtle (or small) about a balloon Christmas tree, and that’s what we love about it. Sugar & Cloth details the instructions here. It’s crazy easy, as long as you invest in a balloon pump. Think how great this tree would be for a holiday party backdrop (so great).
You’ve got the sights and sounds of Christmas handled, but what about the scents? Follow along with Francois et Moi’s step-by-step instructions on how to make holiday-scented candles using pine needles with orange and cedarwood essential oils—a combo that will fill your home with that wintry, fresh forest scent.
Whip up a few of these candles at a time—they make for great gifts!
Retro Ornament Garland
This DIY garland with retro ornament designs could not be cheaper or easier. Damask Love has done all of the hard work for you. Simply print the vintage ornaments, cut them out, and thread them using a piece of baker’s string. We told you: easy. If you need a quick way to brighten your mantel without interfering with your budget, this is the DIY for you.
Cranberry Wreath + Crown
One bag of cranberries (firm, not soft), wire, wire cutters, and ribbon. That’s all you need to create this extremely easy and inexpensive wreath via Paper & Stitch. Bonus: it also doubles as a cranberry crown, so you could create a few as party favors for dinner guests, or gather everyone to create their own as a group activity.
DIY Snowball Pillow
Combine felt fabric, wool balls, and some basic sewing skills, and you have yourself this fun and easy DIY snowball pillow. Follow along with Sugar & Cloth’s directions for the step-by-step process of creating this pillow, which will add a bit of texture and a lot of fun to your home this holiday season. Best of all, it can stay in rotation on your couch long past the holidays and through the end of winter.
Tea Towel Stockings
How sweet are these stockings? If yours have seen better days but you’re hesitant to drop serious dough on new stockings, don’t. Follow along with Paper & Stitch’s DIY stockings made out of tea towels instead. Simple sewing skills are needed, but not much else is.
The materials list for this DIY ornament garland couldn’t be simpler: ornaments, ornament hooks, wired ribbon, and scissors. Then, with some patience and simple assembling, you can weave together this color-blocked garland that would brighten up any mantel. Fair warning though: you’ll need a lot of bulbs to make the garland look full, so stock up.
Rope-Wrapped Christmas Tree Basket
You’d never know that under this elegant rope Christmas tree basket is a purple plastic monstrosity. Fall for DIY oh-so geniusly covered that up with neat rows of rope, the bottom half of which she painted white. Goodbye purple bucket, hello sweet Scandinavian Christmas tree basket.
To go big and bold with your fireplace mantel—if you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, big and bold is the only way to go, really—take a bit of inspiration from Francois et Moi’s asymmetrical garland DIY. She blended real cedar and pine greenery with faux magnolia and evergreen stems, then added fresh berried juniper and dried orange slices. The results are dynamic. Read her detailed instructions here.
Merry Christmas Garland
No need to spend any money on a “Merry Christmas” garland that you can create yourself with letter stencils and an x-acto knife. (Or very steady hands and a pair of scissors.)
The Merrythought used patterned tissue boxes for the letters, though any sturdy paper will do. While you’re at it, a “happy birthday” one would come in handy throughout the year too.
Mini Wooden Christmas Trees
Take a quick trip to the craft store to stock up on everything you’ll need (which isn’t much) for these super cute mini Christmas trees, a craft both adults and kiddos will love. With just a few dollars’ worth of supplies you can create an array of little trees in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and designs, just like Sugar & Cloth did. They’d brighten a mantle, a desk, a dining table, and definitely your day.
Christmas Card Display
What, oh, what to do with all those beloved Christmas cards you receive from your friends and family? The face of your refrigerator is already full, and your mantel is decked out in holiday décor. Here’s an idea, courtesy of The Merrythought. Using reclaimed wood and bulldog clips, DIY a rustic Christmas card display. It's ultra-easy to recreate, and allows for an ever-evolving look as you switch out cards and add on sprigs of greenery.
DIY Wooden Ornaments
DIY’d ornaments don’t get much easier than this. The Merrythought oh-so brilliantly decorated this sweet, small Christmas tree with ornaments made of wooden beads (two different shapes add interest) strung with jute twine.
To add to the rustic look, the little tree is wrapped in kraft paper, which is tied with black twine—and that’s all there is to it.
Christmas Sheet Music Art
This Christmas art project via Lovely Indeed looks far more expensive than the $15 it costs to make. It’s so simple: take the first page of your favorite holiday tune's sheet music to a local print shop to blow up to your preferred size, then Modge Podge it to the same size canvas. Let dry, then frame. Ta da!
Golden Wreath Garland
Any opportunity to use gold spray paint is a fun time in our books, and if the spray paint session ends with these delicately beautiful golden wreaths (or garland, if you leave flat), all the better. Sugar & Cloth show us how it’s done here.
Hang the wreaths on your door or walls, or use them as a centerpiece. Or instead of winding into a wreath, use the golden stems as garland instead, which you can drape over a mantle or wind through a staircase. The options are nearly endless.
Winter Checkers Game
We love decor that serves a purpose. That’s what this DIY winter checkers game courtesy of Lovely Indeed is: part decor, part game, 100 percent delightful. Think about what a great gift it’d make, or how it could become an heirloom piece in your family.
It’ll take you about one hour to make, but will provide you with countless hours of quality time. And since it’s also not holiday-specific, leave it out all winter to encourage some friendly competition with friends and family members.
Dried Oranges and Foraged Grass Wreath
Cara from Goldalamode proves that Christmas wreaths do not need to be a big expense. For this beauty, she bought a spruce wreath at her local garden center that set her back $12. Then she dehydrated orange slices and foraged grass from her backyard to add an affordable and elegant touch.
“If you look out into your yard, you’ll be very pleased to find out there are tons of Christmas decorations,” she says.
Christmas Village Advent Calendar Tree
Using unfinished wood birdhouses, craft paint, bottle brush trees, and a little bit of creativity, you can make this outstanding Christmas village tree, just like Lovely Indeed did. Carve out five hours of DIY time (plus drying time), add little gifts in each home to create an advent calendar, then bask in your genius. Bonus points if you hang them from a wildly fun pink flocked tree.
Dried Orange Garland
To add a little color (that’s not red or green) to your holiday décor, try this ultra-easy DIY dried orange garland. The Ginger Home breaks down the instructions in detail for this classic idea that takes a page out of Scandinavian style. Bonus: your home will smell like oranges for a day, and if stored properly, they’ll keep for years.