Back to Nature

The cheapest decorating ideas for Christmas make use of what we have around us. In wintertime there are so many gifts that nature provides that we can use for our decorating needs.

One of the easiest and most effective decorations you can make this Christmas is frosted fruits, for an elegant table centerpiece. Select fruits in different colors, and lightly beat one or two egg whites before brushing them over the fruit. Hold larger fruits by their stalks, and put small fruits on a skewer or cocktail stick, that you can then use to dip into caster sugar. Leave the fruits to dry on paper covered in sugar - try not to touch the fruits themselves when you are doing this, as finger marks will show.Silver branch wedding decorationCredit:

Pine cones and teasels are often used in winter decorations, added to wreaths or centerpieces, or used around the fireplace. You could add spray snow to the tips, or spray them entirely in gold or silver. If you can find any cones from the cedar tree then pick them up - their more dense structure looks stunning on a mantelpiece or, Christmas table.

Using twigs and branches to decorate, at Christmas is another gift from nature. Put diamond vase filler into a container and stick twigs into it. You can further decorate the branches with fairy lights, or by painting them with white glue and dipping them in glitter.

Reuse Items or Use Found Items

Cardboard Christmas TreeCredit: Christmas trees are becoming more popular, as well as offering a cheaper way to decorate at Christmas. Many commercially available ones also come with cardboard ornaments that are left plain for you to customize - great to keep kids busy on snow days.

Jam jar candle holders grouped together look highly effective - decorate with permanent pens, stickers or glass paints. Or get even more inventive and use found items to make a chandelier. Give it a Christmas theme with the addition of mistletoe, holly, or other evergreen items, threaded through or affixed around the bottom, making sure they don't come into contact with the candle flame.Tin Can Lantern and Tin Candle Holder Made by Tin PunchingCredit:

Why not decorate your house this Christmas using tin cans! Not only free but versatile too. You can make tin candle holders by punching designs into a tin, or make your own metal art by cutting off the top and bottom of a can, cut down the side and pressing it out into a metal sheet. This can then be made into all kinds of sculptures, and can be left as is or you can add detail with metal paints.

Use jeans, gingham check dresses, or any other unwanted clothes or linens to make Christmas tree decorations. Simply cut out a diamond shape using pinking shears and tie a ribbon through the top, or else add details like a simple fabric Christmas tree adding plenty of sequins and glitter. Add an extra dimension by cutting out two identical shapes and stuffing them with cotton wool or cut up old panty hose as filler. Stitch together with a simple running stitch in a contrasting color to the fabric.

Cheap and Cheerful Ice Wreath

There are so many ways to make inexpensive door wreaths at Christmas that it could be an entire article in itself, but one of the most striking ways (that just so happens to be the cheapest) is to make an ice door wreath.Ice Ring Wreath with berriesCredit:

All you need is some appropriate freezer proof containers, and maybe a handful of berries or sparkle confetti. If you are lucky enough to have a ring shaped cake tin then this will be even simpler, but the way I usually do it is to find the largest bowl I can, along with a smaller one that would happily sit inside it -- you are looking at around 4 inches space between the two bowls all around.

Then pour in your water into the larger bowl, leaving the smaller bowl empty. The small bowl is likely to start floating so you can just throw inside it whatever you have in your freezer that can act as a weight (you knew those frozen peas would be used one day!). Now you can add your berries, confetti, pine cones, orange pieces or whatever you wish.

Once frozen you'll need to help release the ice wreath with the help of a hairdryer. Once released you can then tie a ribbon around it to hang it from your door. Oh and make sure it's a cold night when you hang it out; a big puddle to greet your guests just isn't quite the same.

Get Crafty

If you have more time on your hands than cash in your pocket, it's time to get crafty this Christmas, to keep your decorating costs down.Gingerbread star christmas tree decorationCredit:

Gingerbread tree decorations add a wonderful aroma to the house as well as being a cheap and easy Christmas decoration idea. Use cookie cutters and make a hole in the top with a piping nozzle or small knife before baking. Once cooled, decorate with icing and edible glitter, or just leave plain, before threading ribbon through the hole and hanging it on the tree. Stick to original round shapes or get in on the festive theme with bells, candy canes, snowmen, Christmas trees... you get the idea!

TIP: If you don't have any appropriately shaped cookie cutters then draw or print out your chosen shape onto card and use it as a template; cutting around the dough with a sharp knife.

A simple way to make ice decorations is to use shaped ice cube trays, dipping wire or ribbon into each mold before filling with water and freezing. Shapes like hearts and stars work well, and you could even put a cut out shape inside before freezing too. Try using plastic yogurt pots or similar and cut out stars or snowflake shapes. Melt some edges to meld shapes together and freeze again to make an ice sculpture, or hang from an outside tree.

Bark prints are an easy Christmas make. Take a close-up picture of some tree bark and upload it to your computer. Print it out in grayscale, or just in a single color like ice blue. You can then transfer these to cover books, cut up and laminate for tree decorations, or print onto a T-shirt transfer sheet and iron onto fabric - a perfectly seasonal Christmas tablecloth.

Cheap decorating ideas for Christmas aren't hard to find you just need a bit of time, creativity, and even get the whole family involved to make everyone feel part of the festivities.