Remember on November 1st when Social Media had the appearance that every single person had pulled out their holiday decorations, went shopping at the local home goods store, and were already halfway through a bottle of eggnog and fully embracing the “tidings” and “good cheer”?
I applauded, commented, hit “like” and “heart” an innumerable number of times, and told myself “I’ll set up next weekend, this weekend we have a lot of laundry.”
Next weekend, we had to grocery shop. The weekend after, my little one was teething. Followed by vacuuming, another grocery trip, and then you wouldn’t believe how much laundry had piled up again!
Suddenly, “next” weekend was December 26. The point in the year had come when Christmas was this week. Our home had zero cheer. No sugar plums. There were no stockings hung with care. No burlap decor. Zero perfectly placed signs with holiday greetings. Not even a tree.
I found our box of Christmas decorations. A shoebox, smaller than I remembered. Opening it I found: A three-foot-long string of battery operated lights, four ornaments, and a nativity set.
This would be my husband and I’s first Christmas in our own apartment, and our daughter’s first Christmas ever. This was a decoration crisis. I turned to the only place I knew: Pinterest. However, I did not have time or patience for the typical DIY Fiasco. Perhaps you’ll recognize the routine:
1) Find stunning project labeled “DIY”
2) Spend $30 on materials
3) Start the project
4) Spend $25 on the fancy tool they are using
5) Try to learn how to use the tool
6) Ruin your project
7) Start over
8) Get interrupted by your toddler and forget what you’re supposed to do next
(repeat steps 6-8 until you’ve lost stamina or run out of materials)
I needed a DIY that was fully achievable. No fancy tools needed. Heck, I can’t even find a ruler and the only scissors I could locate were child-sized.
So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. And, as any good procrastinator should, I thought I would share my process thus enabling my fellow panicked parents.
So here is your official guide to last-minute holiday decor. The DIY Garland Guide: Putting Things on Strings, from your fellow procrastinators at Lil Helper.
Let’s walk through 3 types of materials that you might have on hand or can easily find. Cuz let’s face it “DIY garland” is just code for random stuff that you hang around your door frame and call it festive! If you’re looking for a project that takes no skill, no precision can be literally shoved off the table when your toddler demands a snack without any damage, you’ve come to the right place. Maybe you’ll look at your finished projects and say “meh, that will do”, but you won’t be pulling your hair out or walking out of a craft store with a $200 machine you’ll never use again. Besides, you need a good “meh” to say “meh-rry Christmas”.
Here is the step-by-step, or catch our video tutorial at the bottom of the page
Materials: Fabric, Twine
Optional: More twine, hot chocolate
Instructions: Cut fabric strips. Don’t try to make them straight or even, they won’t be. Let your kids practice their scissor skills. Cut up that table cloth that was ruined at thanksgiving and purchase solitary curtains from the thrift store. We all have some pent up anger, use it to rip an incredibly large number of fabric strips. Then, tie these strips of fabric around your twine. Repeat until you are out of fabric, out of hot cocoa, or out of patience.
Next Level: Can you tie shoes? If so, you’re ready for the professional upgrade to your DIY garland. Taking a smaller piece of twine, tie a fabric bow around it. Then, use the smaller piece of twine to attach your bow to your DIY garland. See that? You made that. Call it a farmhouse up-cycle and pat yourself on the back.
Optional: a fork, tapestry needle, Hallmark movie
Instructions: Wrap yarn around your hand until it is pleasantly plump. Use having yarn around your hand as an excuse to not change the next dirty diaper. Slip the yarn from your hand and tie a quadruple knot about one-third of the way down. Cut the bottom and realize you made a freakin’ TASSLE. The word even sounds festive. You are a holiday hero. Cut an ambitiously long piece of yarn and slip your tassel onto the long strand. Repeat until the movie ends exactly as you expected it to.
Next Level: Grab a fork and wrap the yarn around the prongs, giving your fingers some sweet relief from being crushed. Tie your quadruple knot around the yarn puff by slipping a strand in between the prongs. Remove your puff from the fork and tie a second quadruple knot perpendicular to the first. Cut all the small loops and behold the beauty of a pom-pom. A bit more difficult to get on your string, you’ll have to call in the help of a tapestry needle, running a hefty dollar per pack at your local craft store. You can watch a video to learn this method of pom-pom making here.
Materials: Paper, Tape
Optional: Hole punch, twine, wine
Instructions: Cut paper strips. Preparing a piece of tape ahead of time, loop a paper strand into a ring. With another piece of tape on stand by, loop a second paper strand through the first. Repeat this tried and true method until your child is dragging it through the house while singing “Deck the Halls”. Drink wine and watch memories being made.
Next Level: Fold a paper strand in half and hole punch the open end. Take a small piece of paper and create a small tube, hole punching the bottom. Line up the holes on your paper strand and your tube, and push a piece of twine through the holes. Give the paper a little encouragement, and repeat to create string lights that won’t drive up your energy bill.
These are your simple and achievable decoration recommendations. Maybe your DIY garland won’t be the most stunning, but it definitely won’t be the most stressful. Instead, you’ll be free to set down your project and read a Christmas story. You can pick it back up when your child wants to help and set it aside when you realize it started to snow. Make pom-poms with your partner. Call your mother on zoom as your toddler painstakingly chooses what color should go next on the paper chain. Set aside some of the pressure to create the most astonishing DIY decor and embrace the memories that can be folded in a paper chain. Remember as these days leading up to Christmas look different than in years past, that you can still #FindFamily and make memories that last all the years to come, even if your decorations don’t.