This past weekend we hosted a holiday brunch. Since it was a holiday soiree, I wanted to make it extra festive without spending a lot of money, because I'd rather spend $60 on a train set for my son than on cute but chintzy party decor. I also wanted to keep it as sustainable as possible, so I stuck to the motto: DIY, use nature, and use the stuff I already have. Bingo bongo, I did all my decorating for the cost of one tacky plastic punch bowl. Check out how after the jump!
My friend and I made all the decorations featured in the above pictures, and it not only saved us lots of money, it was incredibly fun and rewarding to add our own personal touches to the celebration.
DIY Paper Decorations:
1. DIY Paper Crackers. I have to give my friend credit for these. I love the idea of crackers at a party (these would be very fun for New Year's Eve as well) but the store-bought versions are both really expensive and usually filled with useless plastic trinkets. Alas, we knew we could do even better than store bought, so my friend used a simple tutorial, found on Candoodles to make homemade crackers using card stock, ribbon, and some tissue paper she had on hand. She also filled each cracker with old-fashioned lollipops, which is a much greener and more satisfying treat than a plastic trinket. Total cost: $4 (price of the candy).
2. DIY Dessert or Appetizer Toppers. That's right, we put a bird on it. And you can too! Simply use some free printable paper tags or labels and tape them to a small tooth pick. Total cost: $2 for box of toothpicks and minimal cost of paper and ink usage.
3. DIY Mod Ornaments and Flower Tree Topper. We recently featured these mod paper ornaments on Re-Nest, and they looked so cool I knew I had to incorporate them into my own decorating this year. They really were simple to make and I love how I was able to customize the colors and style.
4. DIY Paper Garland. I used the same card stock that I used for the ornaments and flower, but cut out two-inch strips and made rings to form a garland. (*I paid $9 for a 44-page book of acid-free cardstock on clearance at a local craft store, which I then used for the mod ornaments, flower, and garland. The paper was on sale because it was slightly damaged, so I figured if it was not purchased it was destined for the landfill. Now it has a home as decorations for years to come).
Total cost for #3 & #4: $9 for book of cardstock
5. Natural Birch Branches and Citrus Centerpiece. Birch branches are ubiquitous at garden centers and even grocery store floral sections this time of year. I paid $7 for this bunch of branches, and I think it makes an incredibly dramatic statement using minimal resources.
I also used a trifle dish filled with oranges and clementines as a centerpiece. Completely sustainable, inexpensive, pretty, colorful, and delicious. I would say that a bowl of citrus wins the award for best all-around performance.
Total cost for branches and oranges: $10
6. Boxwood sprigs & raffia napkin rings. These were actually completely free to make. I used raffia that I've had seemingly forever (don't you love those household items you have so long you forgot where, when, or why you have them?). The boxwood sprigs I snipped from my mom's backyard, but any kind of greenery would be great for this. Some possibilities: winter berries, rosemary sprigs, or eucalyptus. Total cost: $3 for Seventh Generation paper napkins (made of 100% recycled content).
Total Cost for Decorations: Around $30. This process taught me how far you can go by improvising using items on hand, and that a few extra touches go a long way to making a beautiful presentation.
(Images: Lori Wolan)