Make your own decorations! Eight cheap, easy and classy-looking projects to make this a bright Christmas

From paper snowflakes to foraged wreaths and hand-printed wrap, we’ve got your walls, trees and presents covered

Christmas can feel expensive, but adding a touch of festive cheer to your decor doesn’t have to leave you strapped for cash. With many of us tightening our belts – this year more than most – we asked interiors Instagrammers, experts and creatives to share their ideas for bringing some ho-ho-ho into your home without breaking the bank.

Marbled baubles

Zeena Shah, art director, stylist and author of Marbling
Marbling is a brilliant, budget-friendly way to zhoosh up your Christmas decor. I love to use it to upcycle old Christmas baubles but you can buy inexpensive glass ones, too. Pour room-temperature water into a deep bowl until it’s two-thirds full. Drop a small amount of nail polish or marbling ink in two or three colours into the water until a pattern forms. Swirl the colours – but work quickly, as nail polish dries within a minute or two – then dip baubles into the mixture for a beautiful marbled pattern. Hang to dry and spray with a clear matt varnish to ensure they last for years.

Printed place settings

Ellie Edwards, printmaker

Lino prints by Ellie Edwards
The more textured, the better … lino prints by Ellie Edwards. Photograph: Supplied image

The joy of printmaking is that it’s a very flexible medium – there are so many ways to create prints with materials you already have around the house. Get creative with leftover vegetables – the more textured, the better – by using red cabbage or brussels sprouts sliced in half to reveal a flat surface. Coat this flat surface in a thin layer of acrylic paint, then press down on to paper. Peel the paper away to reveal vibrant art. Use your prints as place settings for the table, cut a hole and hang them from the tree, or write the festive menu on the other side.

Paper snowflakes

Zack Mclaughlin, paper artist

A paper star by Zack Mclaughlin
A paper star by Zack Mclaughlin. Photograph: Supplied image

I love making paper snowflakes – you can use wallpaper, wrapping paper or even printer paper. Fold a piece of A4 in half, then tear it along the fold line. Use a paper creaser (or the blunt side of a knife) and a ruler to score straight lines along the length of both halves (use the ruler as a width guide). Next, fold both sheets of now-scored paper in half lengthways, then unfold. Using all of your scored lines, fold both sheets like a concertina. With scissors, cut the ends of your folded sheets into triangles, then fold in half and use string to tie both folded sheets together at the centre. Close all gaps in the snowflake with double-sided tape. Tie a hoop in the end of your string for hanging et voilà: you have a stunning paper snowflake.

Cloth-wrapped gifts

Tomoko Kakita, architectural and interior designer, founder of ma space design and author of Furoshiki and the Japanese Art of Gift Wrapping

Furoshiki with Tomoko Kakita

Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese method of wrapping using a square piece of cloth. To decorate your home in the festive season, use it to wrap gifts – or any object – and place under your tree. Start by putting a square piece of fabric on the diagonal, design side down, and place the object you wish to wrap in the centre, but above an imaginary line connecting the left and right corners. Bring the bottom corner up to the top, to make a triangle (with your object inside). Roll the object up, then bring the top point over and tuck (to hide the point itself). Bring the left and right corners over the top, towards each other, and tie together neatly.

Foraged wreaths

Bex Partridge, dried-flower artist

A foraged wreath by Bex Partridge
Festive cheer … a foraged wreath by Bex Partridge. Photograph: Supplied image

When it comes to wreaths, there is no need for them to cost the earth. Beech leaves (keep an eye out for the crinkled bronze ones), bracken, holly berries, structural seed heads and fluffy old man’s beard are all around at the moment and perfect for foraging. You will need a circular base – use vines or even a wire coat hanger, unwound and made into a circle – as well as a spool of thin-gauge wire or string. Attach your wire or string to your wreath base and begin to add in your foraged stems, securing each one by wrapping the wire or string around them. Work your way around the wreath base until it is covered. Then hang. If a tree is beyond your means this year, a windfallen branch hung with ribbon from a wall can be decorated with a few cheap baubles and still add some festive cheer.

Printed wrapping paper

Molly Mahon, block printer and author of House of Print

Potato printing by Molly Mahon
Simple shapes create the most striking prints … potato printing by Molly Mahon. Photograph: Supplied image

There are countless ways to create Christmas decor on a budget. I buy rolls of inexpensive recycled brown paper and go to town printing bunting, paper chains and wrapping paper. If you don’t have a wooden printing block you could just as easily use a potato. For cheap paint, use leftover sample pots. Start by cutting your potato in half to create a flat surface. Mark the shape you want using a pencil or a biscuit cutter: I find simple shapes create the most striking prints. Cut away the excess potato around your shape, then put a thick layer of paint on to the raised area and press it on the paper. Each time you make a print, load your potato with more paint. There is nothing more heartfelt than a hand-printed wrap, jaunty homemade decoration or even a simple printed card.

Handwritten menus

Kirthanaa Naidu, tablescape stylist
If you’re hosting Christmas dinner, I always recommend a white linen tablecloth – you can find relatively cheap deadstock on eBay. Build up from that. It doesn’t matter if your crockery doesn’t match – mix-and-match can look cool – or, if you’ve got classic white Ikea plates, disguise them with colourful napkins picked up on Etsy or eBay. A handwritten menu placed on top looks like you’ve made a lot of effort when in fact it’s easy to put together. You can either buy menu cards from Papier or make your own – textured paper is really beautiful.

Decorate the centre of the table with foraged greenery or, if you have a tree, clippings from the back. To make your table a sensory experience, supermarket herbs can be placed in glasses or bud vases. Rosemary and thyme smell nice and will complement the food. I also like to add bunches of grapes or cranberries.

I always recommend candles on a festive table. Glass holders can be bought from charity shops or you could use fruits such as clementines and oranges. It will work best if your candle is thin and made of beeswax – paraffin isn’t so nice to breathe while you’re eating.

Festive paper chains

Fee Greening, illustrator

Paper chains by Fee Greening
Elegant … paper chains by Fee Greening. Photograph: Supplied image

I love a jolly cutout paper chain. I use brown parcel paper and roughly paint with long dry brush strokes, so the brown still peeks through. I tend to stick to dark brown, fiery red and olive colours. Once it’s dry, cut a long strip, about 15cm tall. Fold the strip back and forth like an accordion, wide enough to accommodate your design: you can start with a simple pine tree or star. I usually go for running animals, reindeer, hares or fluttering birds. Draw the silhouette on to the top layer – it needs an element that joins on to its neighbour: so if you are drawing a bird, for example, a beak could connect to the next bird’s wing. Then cut out your chosen shape. I leave the paper chains as elegant silhouettes for a few days and then, when my younger relatives visit, we paint on smiling faces, feathers, the whole caboodle.


Ellie Violet Bramley

The GuardianTramp

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