How We Decorated for the Holidays on a Dime

I mentioned in the "Easy DIY Pinecone Ornaments" post that my fiance is in an apprenticeship program to become an lineman. Linemen, for those of you who aren't sure what they are, are the guys that work on the power lines in your neighborhood, as well as the huge metal towers and lines you see outside your city. The apprenticeship takes about 3 years, and because Dan has to get a certain amount of hours in certain skills, we'll move every 6-12 months depending on where there is work for apprentices. So, while I'm blessed to say we have a house here in Charleston (many people simply buy campers & live out of them to simplify the moving process), it is a fairly temporary situation.

We moved across the country with a week's notice, and because of the rush, I left everything that wasn't essential on the West Coast. That means, I didn't have a single Christmas decoration when December rolled around. Oh, and because we're getting married in 5 short months (yeeeeee!!) we are saving our pennies to pay for the big day. So, very limited money + no buying of more stuff that we'll have to lug around with us when we move = tricky Christmas decorating. 

If you're in a similar financial, or housing, both, I thought I'd share with you how we decorated on a dime in hopes that I could inspire someone else!

I collected a large trash bag of pinecones off the street we live on. That means these beauties were free! If you're lucky enough to live in (or near) the mountains, head out for a day and collect several different kinds, you can use them for pretty much all your holiday decorating. 

When we bought our Christmas Tree (on sale for $24), I asked the guy if we could have some of the boughs that he had cut off of other people's trees. He happily complied. The only part of our wreath that cost me money was the $1 ribbon, and the glue. 

I'm a seamstress, which means I always have fabric on hand. However if you'd like to make them but you don't have any fabric, I recommend heading to your local thrift store and searching for men's wool shirts. I can usually snag these at Goodwill for $5 and then take them apart to use for fabric.
If you'd like to learn how to make these darling, easy-to-make, envelope pillow shams, I have a tutorial here

For our mantle, the plaid banner was from the clearance section at Target and was $2. I could have made one from scrapbook paper and twine for less, but that was more of an issue of time. The boughs are from the nice Christmas tree guy, I melted old candles down to make new ones and the books are from Salvation Army that cost me fifty cents each.

The corn and pumpkins are from a flea market here in Charleston that I bought for a couple dollars each. I originally purchased them back in October to decorate for fall, but when Christmas rolled around, I realized I could easily reuse them. 

I spray painted the corn gold for a bit of gleam on the mantle. 

Our tree skirt is left over wool fabric from this literal skirt. We decorated it's boughs with my handmade pinecone ornaments, pinwheel ornaments, seashells from our recent trip to Florida and bakers twine from the dollar store.  My Christmas trees are usually dripping in vintage glass ornaments that I've inherited from my great-aunt, my mom and my sister, but this years tree definitely has more of a folk-y feel to it. I like it! 

I made our tree topper from Scrapbook paper, and I made a tutorial on how you can make one too!

Little battery operated tea lights flicker in a bowl of gold and natural pinecones. I put one in the ceiling light fixture I found at Goodwill for 75 cents and I love the way it glows. 

I spray painted a whole bunch of the pinecones I'd been collecting silver, gold, and white and then I left the other half their natural color. 

So, I did a rough estimate and added up supplies for the pillows, supplies for the ornaments and topper, lights for the tree, and pre-purchased items that I re-used and we spent about $30 on this years decorations. Not too bad for people who had nothing merry for this holiday season when it began! I know there are sooooo many other ideas out there for how to decorate without breaking the bank and I'd love to hear them from you! What traditional decorations do you and your family use? What memories of early-marriage, pinching pennies, but happy-as-can-be holidays do you have?

Thank you so much for reading and besides the decorating, baking, traveling, gift buying, trivialities of this season, I wholeheartedly wish you a very happy Christmas. 

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