Day 3: DIY decorations 

How are you enjoying the 12 calm days of Christmas? I hope you're feeling more intentional, and tidy, and ready to enjoy getting super festive today! 

One of the problems I have with Christmas decorations is that they are only used for a short period of each year, and more often than not are made out of non-recyclable, inorganic materials. I always feel guilt mixed with joy when I think of all the resources that go into making Christmas decorations, and the landfill they contribute to when they inevitably break and are thrown away. 

Bit by bit, we as a family are collecting meaningful tree baubles - some of them handmade and others bought, but all that have a special association or memory attached to them, and we unwrap those lovingly each year. But for all the "fillers" - tinsel, garlands, wreaths, and that sort of thing - I try to eschew plastic and foil in favour of the handmade.  

Today, in case you feel the same, I thought I'd share some handmade Christmas decoration ideas with you that are a little kinder to the environment, and the budget, but feel just as festive (if not more) in the making of the decorations, as well as the hanging of the decorations themselves.

Set the scene 

Here are some calming Christmas ideas to set the scene and get you in the festive mood while you craft: 

  • Light a candle 
  • Light a fire if it's cold 
  • Open the windows if it's warm 
  • Put on Christmas music 
  • Invite family, flatmates or friends to help 
  • Put out Christmassy snacks 
  • Make spiced Christmassy drinks 
  • Watch a Christmas movie 
  • Wear silly Christmas clothes (sweaters, antlers, novelty earrings...)
  • Invite loved-ones over for a Christmas craft party 

When we were little, we'd all sit around the kitchen table for hours making pomander balls before Christmas, just talking about nothing. I loved it. 

To help you out, I've created step-by-step instructions for the three projects here, in a downloadable worksheet below. Let's get making! 

1. A garland of orange slices
These are easy to make, organic when you dispose of them, and look great strung around the tree, or as individual 'baubles' on the tree, draped under mantlepieces or framing windows, worked into wreaths, or simply scattered on a table as decorations

2. Pomander balls
I used to make pomander balls with my mother every year. They are oranges covered in cloves and rolled in spices and they last - if you want them to - for months, preserved by all those dry spices. They look festive in bowls on coffee tables and mantlepieces, you can tie a ribbon around them and hang them on the tree (if your tree is strong - they're heavy), or pile them up in an (unused) fireplace. Later, you can even use them to lend delicate scent to closets and drawers

3. Paper snowflakes
If you're ok with a bit of colour, you could make these out of old magazine pages, used wrapping paper, and all kinds of things. For purists, use white, recycled copy-paper. Just like orange slices, they look great individually and as garlands, and of course you can make a variety of sizes to suit your personal taste. An even easier, small-child-friendly paper project is paper chains. Mix these up with your snowflakes!

christmas jug.jpg

If DIY is not your thing - you don't have the time - or the inclination - to get making, a super-simple way to decorate your home is just to bring greenery inside. Christmas table settings - and homes in general - look wonderful when filled with greenery. Think beyond flowers, and set your table with evergreen leaves, berries, and nuts still on the branches. Trim pine leaves from the base of your tree and arrange them into mini-wreaths around candle-sticks. Scatter walnut shells, sprigs of rosemary and dried cranberries over the table-linen.

Yesterday, the children and I went for a walk and foraged everything you see in this jug to make a pretty setting for the dining table. Foraging (even urban foraging, which we do) is a great excuse just to get out walking in fresh air, and by looking for greenery, and berries, etc, you naturally notice things in your environment that you might otherwise miss. This foraging walk is a wonderful, calming time-out in the busy season, and worth doing for half an hour, even if the weather is not ideal (hello, 38 degrees on the Monday just gone!). 

I really hope you found today's ideas useful. If you have some DIY decorations of your own that you like to make, let me know and I'll share them with everyone else in a later email. Write to me directly at

See you tomorrow!