Some of our memories of childhood Christmas trees include flashing lights and too much tinsel covering all the branches. Which is probably why nowadays, we like a more subdued tree. That's one of the reasons why we're enamored with these simple newspaper garlands in a well-loved book on our shelf written by the "Salvage Sisters".
If you've never heard of the book The Salvage Sisters' Guide to Finding Style in the Street and Inspiration in the Attic, the authors are two creative sisters who were formerly employed at Martha Stewart Living. Its one of our favorite reads for the sheer fun of all of the madcap projects. They rescue more than 50 castoffs including orphaned drawers, a broken couch, a wooden oar — and transform them into whimsical style statements that we wish we'd thought of (they made wall shelves out of mismatched drawers long before Anthropologie stylists did).
To make these garlands look casually arranged, they say the secret is to pay some attention to how you place them. Cut across the width of a stack of 4 newspaper spreads into 1/2" wide strips. Gather 4 strips at a time (to simulate a section of wide ribbon) and loosely weave them through the branches rather than pulling them taut. Leave 3-4" between a strand of garland and the ones above and below it. For their 6' tree they used 25-30 spreads of newsprint.
Even if you don't have many (or any) ornaments, these would look great mixed with homemade popcorn and cranberry garlands and some simple white lights. And one of the best parts is that after de-ornamenting, the whole tree can be recycled for mulch.
The Salvage Sisters' Guide to Finding Style in the Street and Inspiration in the Attic is $11 at Amazon.