I love holidays. When I was a kid, my folks had epic Halloween parties, and they would spend days and days (maybe weeks?) decorating our house in Oakwood to the hilt. My mom is a Christmas nut, and we always had plenty of holiday spirit, thanks to the endless wreaths, 12-foot Christmas trees, candles and those tiny ceramic houses from Hallmark covered in fake snow.
As an adult, I am terrible at observing the holidays in that manner. Absolutely awful. Every year, my husband insists that we go all-out for Halloween. You know what our Halloween decoration arsenal consists of? One wooden sign and a short skeleton statue. In our seven Halloweens together, this is what we have to show for it.
The past two out of three Christmases? We haven’t even put up a tree. (Please don’t start throwing things at me.) In 2011, our son came three weeks early during the Thanksgiving holiday, so we didn’t have a chance to get the tree up. Last year, we didn’t want to mess with it having a toddler around the house, and we never spend Christmas at home, anyway.
Over the past couple of years, I have become hooked on Pinterest. Who hasn’t, really? I pin and pin and pin some more, and with each project I actually attempt, the truth comes out to stare me in the face before it crawls back into my craft drawer with disgust.
I am not a crafter.
I am also cheap.
The good news here is that I don’t spend a lot of money on my failed projects. So that’s a win.
Let me also state that I have a notoriously bad track record for finishing these projects.
Anyway, I don’t know if I’m finally growing up, or what, but I’ve decided to start decorating this year. And I really want to do something fall-ish. So I spent some time pinning (natch), and I’m going to share with you what I’ve tried and what I plan to try:
Projects for the Skill-less and Thrifty
And let me say, I have only about three drawers dedicated to craft items. You read all these blogs that say, “Well, I used this can of copper glaze I had on hand, and I had 17 bags of concrete that I used, and oh, did I mention that my husband is a master wood craftsman? This project only cost me $3!” No. We don’t roll like that at my house. My items consist of things like twine from Dollar Tree.
I think the autumn decorating bug started with this:
The words “Dollar Tree” scream at me every time. Now, I didn’t particularly want to duplicate this exact project (namely because I couldn’t find that vase when I went shopping for it at DT), but it gave me some inspiration. I have this lantern (from the Lowe’s clearance rack) that lives on my mantel. It’s empty. I’ve been wanting to fill it with something; I tried a Pinterest project last year that involved lots of flat thumbtacks and styrofoam balls:
I ended up with one ball nearly covered with tacks, and very sore thumbs. Then I realized that a.) it’s really difficult to find thumbtacks and b.) it would cost me about $40 in TACKS to finish what I started. So now I have this (nearly) empty lantern.
Since I couldn’t find that hurricane vase at DT, I thought, “Why, I can fill the lantern with some fall goodness!” And that’s what I did. I spent $2 on totally realistic-looking (snort) fall leaves, and another $2 on miniature gourds and pumpkins. Stuffed them in the lantern and called it a day. Now I just have to remember to take it down after Thanksgiving. But imagine my joy when I randomly stumbled across this pic today:
And here I was, thinking I was creative and brilliant. That’s totally my lantern, y’all. Except mine is silver.
Several months ago, I thought I’d make a wreath when I discovered that you can make a wreath form from a pool noodle. (Now I could buy one from Hobby Lobby, but this is where my pride comes in: I would rather spend $1 instead of $3, and then waste a bunch of tape, time and spray paint to get it usable. Because if I bought it ready-made, then I wouldn’t be able to say, “Look how creative I am! I made this from a POOL NOODLE!) When I had this brainstorm, I didn’t think about the fact that pool noodles are a seasonal item. I didn’t bother to buy one until pool season was over. This made the task a lot more difficult. But I procured one from my favorite Dollar Tree, sprayed a zillion layers of spray paint on it, and then left it alone. For weeks. My kid had a great time playing ring toss with it. Last week, I decided to finish it, once and for all. I had bought some cute burlap chevron ribbon (because what’s a home decor project in 2014 without chevron or burlap?) at Hobby Lobby when it was 50% off. My plan was to wrap the pool noodle with the ribbon. This was hard, y’all. Like, the ribbon got all bunched up and ugly. And I kept burning myself with the hot glue. Oh, and of course I ran out of ribbon about three inches too early. Never fear, because I have some twine that I can use to cover my mistakes. I simply wrapped the twine around the blank space. (FYI, you can get a three-pack of twine at the Dollar Tree. For…one dollar. It’s in the manly section.) Now, I saw on Pinterest that you can use velcro to attach whatever kind of decorations you want to your wreath, and then you can change them out for each season. Brilliant! I picked up some velcro at the DT (also in the manly section) and got some realistic-looking (snort) fall flowers, too. I finally finished the wreath. I hung it last week. And I only have to go out every other day to replace the flowers that have fallen on the porch due to the cheap velcro.
Here’s another cool project I found using twine:
This person used an ugly $1 vase and wrapped it in twine using hot glue. They also used some of those realistic flowers. This is something to do with those ugly vases you get when you buy flowers at the grocery store.
The other project I have every intention of finishing this year involves plastic jack-o-lanterns and plants.
Yesterday I went on a mission to make this happen. I got two of those trick-or-treat buckets at Target for $1 each. Let it be stated that I went to two Walmarts and a Dollar General before finally locating these. I went to Walmart to look for some mums (because I’m cheap, remember) but couldn’t find any small enough. I scored at Lowe’s, with small mums for $2.48 each. What I’m not having good luck with is the spray paint. I looked at both Walmart and Lowe’s and couldn’t find any that wasn’t incredibly gaudy and shiny. So as per usual, my project is about 60% finished. I swear I’ll get it done before Christmas. (And re-reading the original directions, I see I need to buy primer, too. Great.)
Speaking of Halloween, this wreath is pretty cute, and looks easy enough, even for me. I’m not going to do it this year, because pool noodles aren’t available in stores yet. But I should probably pick up some fake cobwebs while I can.
I’ve also had my eye on this project for a while, and since my Pinterest addiction kicked in, I make it a point to save wine bottles. (I keep them out of sight so I don’t start feeling badly about myself.) The problem with a lot of these ideas are that they’re fabulous as centerpieces. Our dining table has been used exactly two times for meals in the past 3.5 years. The rest of the time, it’s covered with textbooks and half-finished craft projects. It currently holds the remnants from my wreath project and a pile of stuff for our upcoming neighborhood garage sale. So while I did make a centerpiece for it a couple of years ago, it hasn’t been changed. Because I don’t see the point. In all likelihood, I’ll never make these candy corn bottles, but you could.
I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead, because now I’m getting excited to go home and start crafting, and we all know how that will end. Or to be more accurate, how it won’t end. Another idea I had is to search “free fall printables” on Pinterest, and it gives you a ton of FREE decorations to print. Stuff those bad boys in a picture frame (which, of course, you have picked up for pennies at a yard sale or at DT and refinished with spray paint) and you’ve got yourself some holiday spirit.
-MCM Staffer Ashley,
self-proclaimed Dollar Tree and Pinterest addict