Saturday, December 17, 2011

Paper-Poor Christmas Decor

You know how they say that your one-year wedding anniversary is your "paper anniversary"? Well, I can believe it. After surviving a wedding a year prior, funds likely will be quite tight.

Don't think that matrimony is the only thing out there that will leave you short on cash! Grad school, single parenthood, having kids plus a mortgage, under-employment, disability - we're all in this together! So don't be disheartened when television craft shows give rather costly "inexpensive holiday-decor" ideas! You're not alone - I'm broke, too. (Maybe the writers of the TV shows assume that you're still paying for cable and are therefore rich! More on this in a future post!).

Here are a few paper-crafts that have a big impact and a certain nostalgia to them that you can make out of wrapping paper scraps, construction paper or even recycling-bin copy paper (it's generally snow-white after all!).

Finnish Star Decoration

These are my favourites! Quick & easy!

Relative Difficulty: 1 out of 5 (nearly 0 out of 5 if you have access to an office paper cutter!)

Instructions can be found here:

Materials: paper strips (or paper + cutting instrument +/- a ruler or straightedge) and white glue or a glue stick

This is a quick and easy project, my favourite surprise of the year! It requires just 12 strips of paper (construction, copy paper, etc.) and some glue. Because so much of it is "space", this project provides the biggest bang-for-the-buck on purchased paper. The finished product looks much more complicated than it is - impress your friends! I love its Spirograph-esque style.

I had read the instructions quickly online and then tried to put it together myself (without referring back). I made it all the way to the last step, when I connected the two halves backwards. I still thought it was kind of neat (more of a flower than a star), so I'm going to use it to top a gift. Here's what happens if you goof up the final step:

The two halves glued "the wrong way" = flower!

I think you will agree that the Finnish Star is one of the most efficient and pretty paper crafts - imagine an entire ceiling hung with these! Even when done in plain old copy paper, these look stunning (I made one at work in no time at all).

Polish Star or "Urchin" Decoration

I know - it's an ugly example. Hey, it's the first one I ever made!

Relative Difficulty: 4 of 5 (mostly for "fiddley-ness" of rolling paper into points)

Instructions can be found here:
And here as well (static images):

Materials: wrapping paper, scissors, a CD and a nickel (for tracing), a sharp pencil (the "long" tipped way, not the stubby option), a glue stick, 2 buttons or sequins, strong thread or embroidery floss or dental floss, darning needle.Optional extras include sparkle and hairspray.

This may be one of the ugliest Polish Star decorations ever made (I didn't have a sharp pencil! And I should have rolled the points to be longer and skinnier), but I don't want to steal someone else's handiwork without permission (follow this link to see some gorgeous examples of the craft!).

Apparently if you do them correctly (and tidily), these make wonderful Christmas heirlooms. I think I might pass this one on to a future pet for gleeful destruction.

Danish Paper Heart

Relative Difficulty: 2 out of 5 (hardest part is getting the proportions right at the outset - templates exist and can be printed out to alleviate you of this potential headache!)

Instructions: on Green, Broke & Living in Kits and here:

Materials: paper (wrapping paper works - shiny is especially nice!) and scissors; ribbon for hanging

You may recognize this craft from a prior Valentine's post here on Green, Broke & Living in Kits. But in actual fact, this is a traditional Christmastime craft in Denmark!

These can be filled with goodies (they remind me more of Easter baskets than Christmas stockings), or left flat. Traditionally, they were hung on the Christmas tree and filled with sweets.

This is a great way to use up the ends of the wrapping paper roll. They also make great gift tags if you make them small enough. And if you don't have any glue - no worries! They don't require any (unless you wanted to glue on a ribbon for hanging).

Polish 3-D Snowflake

Relative difficulty: 3 out of 5 (easier than they may look, but takes a bit of construction at the end)


Materials: paper (printer/copy paper works perfectly), scissors, double-sided tape (I used glue & patience!). Optional but recommended: ruler and pencil (unless you're good at eyeballing - it worked for me).

I've admired these for years - I've seen them in the lab and at the church office. And every time I see them, I think, "I've really got to give those a try!"

And this is my first attempt - and it turned out pretty well! I must say that this is all the more impressive when you think about how it's just made up of 6 sheets of run-of-the-mill (ha, literally!) printer paper. One of these can easily replace a traditional front door wreath.

And that's about it! There's always the good ol' fashioned paper chains (linked paper) and cut-and-unfold snowflakes if you have a variety of small paper scraps to use up (or if you have young children - I would only recommend the previous decorations for keen grade 4 or 5 students and up).

The Finnish Star is still my favourite - if you want to decorate a ceiling quickly for a Christmas or New Year's party, they're one of the quickest and most efficient. Do up a couple of the Polish Snowflakes for real impact in amongst the Finnish Stars, and voila! A truly amazing display on the cheap!

See this post for how to make a paper tree, too!

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