Posted Dec 17, 2015

8 DIY Holiday Decor Ideas

Making your own holiday decorations lets you get your apartment into the spirit of the season. After all, the decorations you make are going to be slightly different from anyone else’s. Even if other people used the same tutorial, your final product would still come with a set of dings and mild mistakes (call them “artistic variances”) that are completely unique.

8 DIY Holiday Decor Ideas

Here are a few ideas to help you craft some holiday decor that has your own personal touch:

1. Glitter Candles

Start with a plain white candle, some colorful cosmetic glitter, Mod Podge, and contact paper. Lay the candle on it’s side on the contact paper, and figure out how much of its surface you want covered with glitter. Cut out enough contact paper to cover the rest (meaning, if you had a 4-inch candle, and wanted 3 inches covered in glitter, you’d cut out 1 inch of contact paper). Cut and apply the contact paper to the candle.

8 DIY Holiday Decor Ideas - Glitter Candles

Slather the whole thing with Mod Podge, and generously sprinkle glitter on your candle. Tap it against a table (covered with paper or a paper towel) to get rid of excess glitter. Remove the contact paper and let the candle dry overnight. In the morning, your candle will be ready to go. It’s important to use cosmetic glitter so you know it will be safe to actually use the candle.

2. Paw-Print Ornaments

Honor your four-legged friend this year by making an ornament out of his or her paw print. DIY some salt dough by combining 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of flour, and 1/2 cup of water. Once all of the ingredients are mixed together, knead the dough until it’s firm. Flatten the dough with your hands or a rolling pin, and then use a cookie cutter to cut out individual circles.

Press your cat’s or dog’s paw into the dough circles so it leaves a paw print behind. Use a straw to poke a small hole for your ribbon–try to leave at least a centimeter of dough between the hole and the edge of the ornament to ensure security. Bake the footprint at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for two to three hours, let it cool, and then decorate however you’d like!

3. Faux Gingerbread House

Unless you absolutely love the taste of stale gingerbread, there’s no graceful way to dispose of a traditional gingerbread house. If you want to eat it, you have to do so almost immediately after making the thing. If you want to use it as a decoration, you pretty much have to just throw it away once the holidays are over.

8 DIY Holiday Decor Ideas - Faux Gingerbread House

Instead, make a faux gingerbread house out of Styrofoam or heavy-duty cardboard. If you use Styrofoam, you’ll have to paint it–if your cardboard is bare, it might look fine as is. Use beads and pipe cleaners instead of candy, and craft cotton or white glitter to give your “gingerbread” house a snow-dusted look. Once the holidays are over, just put it away until next year.

4. Ornament Monogram

This project takes a bit of effort, but the final effect is totally worth it. Start with a sheet of Styrofoam about 1 inch thick and roughly as large as you want the final wall hanging to be. Use a stencil to sketch out the letter of your choosing, and then cut it out of the foam.

Use a hot glue gun to adhere ornaments to the foam. You’ll need ornaments of different shapes and sizes. Even with the different sizes, you’ll probably have gaps–glue a bit of garland in these spots to give the monogram a unified look. Once you’re done, you’ll have a perfectly festive initial to hang on your wall.

5. 1-Minute Ornaments

One-minute ornaments are the lazy DIY-er ‘s dream. Get clear plastic bulb ornaments, remove the little metal cap, and fill them with any small items you have on hand.

8 DIY Holiday Decor Ideas -  Minute Ornaments

Beads work well, as do small figurines, and colorful pipe cleaners. These look best if there’s a little bit of chaos going on, so don’t put too much thought into the process.

6. Scrap Paper Wreath

If you have a bunch of old books lying around, this is the craft you’ve been waiting for. This works best with pages from books that have aged a bit–although, obviously, you’ll want to avoid books anyone is thinking about reading again. Buy a foam wreath form from a craft store–again, pick one that’s roughly the size you’d like for your final product.

Then, tear or cut pages from the books and loosely crumple them. Glue the crumpled pages to the foam–you may need to add some glue to get the folds of the paper just right. Once you’ve filled the whole wreath up, let it dry overnight. Glue down any pieces that come uncrumpled, and voila! You have a totally unique wreath.

7. No-Sew Stockings

Don’t let your fear of a sewing machine stop you from making your very own stockings. Making a decorative sock worthy of your mantel is actually super simple, even if you have no idea how to thread a bobbin (or what a bobbin actually is). Take two pieces of cloth and cut out the same stocking shape from each.

8 DIY Holiday Decor Ideas - No-Sew Stockings

Lay the pieces of fabric on top of each other so the right sides of each are both faced inward. Lay a fusible bonding web like Stitch Witchery in between the two pieces along the edges. Use an iron to fuse the fabrics together. Your stocking is now inside-out. Turn it the right-side out and decorate as desired.

8. Easy Stamped Pillows

The genius part of this DIY project is that it requires nearly no effort at all. Start with some plain pillows you have sitting in the closet or find at a thrift store. If you’re really fancy, you can make the pillows yourself, but that’s a lot of hard work for someone who scanned this page for the “easy” entry. (No judgment: I do the same thing.)

Find a particularly round potato and cut it in half. Dip the potato in light-colored fabric paint, and use it to stamp some polka dots directly onto the pillows (If you don’t want to permanently holiday-ify your pillows, use a pillowcase instead). Try to make them somewhat evenly spaced. Let the pillows dry, and then use a permanent marker or fabric paint pen to turn your dots into little ornaments.

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Michelle Brandstetter


Michelle Brandstetter graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Journalism. She enjoys cat gifs, photography, and thinking about jogging. Her true calling in life is to pet as many wild animals as she (safely) can: So far she's touched lemurs, manatees, and bears, and has tentative plans to play with penguins.

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