Previously (in Grandma's Holiday Prize Cookies post), I shared how we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah in our families. Inevitably this leads to the dilemma of what do you do when you partake in both holidays and how do you decorate your home? This is especially true once you become a parent and celebrating the holidays and passing on those traditions becomes more significant. I struggled with this at first. I had a firm belief and wish to have my child raised with a Jewish education, but I also had the nostalgia and love for holiday decor surrounding Christmas. And so, over the years I have started to re-imagine how I decorate our home for the holidays to carry on my past traditions, but celebrate our family's shared faith.
In recent years, there has been a trend towards "Neutral Christmas" decor in home decor, which generally speaking is Christmas decor in neutral colours of white, cream, beige, and sometimes hints of silver and gold. These colours founded much of my own inspiration over a decade ago when I began thinking about how to make our home feel festive and cozy during the holiday season while still honouring both of our faiths. Generally, we decorate with the themes of winter, snow, gift giving and lights in mind, given that Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights.
More recently, we have had to switch out some of the shiny silver and glass decor previously used, as we now have a toddler in residence who is irresistibly attracted to these objects. Below are five easy & family friendly DIY holiday decor items that we are using in our home this season which will hopefully act as inspiration for you, regardless of what celebrations you partake in!
I began my DIY mission by picking up a few supplies at the local dollar store, totaling around $10 to help me make the following decorations. I also used a number of supplies I had on hand at home (which I will list in the directions below, and some optional modifications depending on what you have available).
Dollar Store Supplies:
- Battery operated mini lights
- Stick-on snowflakes for the window
- Decorative metal wire
- Kraft paper
- Natural looking stones
- Bristol Board (used for cutting matting)
1. Salt Dough Cookie Decorations
Salt dough cookie decorations have been around for many years, and have made a comeback in recent years on Pinterest. They are easy & affordable to make, and you likely own the supplies to make them: flour, salt and water (recipe below). The other nice aspect of these decorations is that they can be cut into whatever shapes help to celebrate your holiday, and so my Hanukkah cookie cutters were once again put to good use.
Salt Dough Recipe
Yield: 25 medium cookie-sized decorations
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 3/4 hours
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup water
Mix flour and salt together, stir in water, adding gradually until moistened, but not sticky. You may not require all of the 1 cup of water. If you find that the dough is sticky, you can knead it with a little bit more flour to make it easy to roll out and cut the decorations. Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thick on a well floured surface. Cut out decorations in shapes of your choice. Make hole in the top of the decorations if you intend to hang them using a straw. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 200F for two and a half hours. Remove and place on a cooling rack overnight to allow them to continue drying.
Once cookies are dry, you can paint them or cover with glue and put sparkles on them. You can then use some of the yarn to hand them as decorations.
2. Faux Gifts with Kraft Paper
Wrap up some small, empty boxes of varying sizes in brown kraft paper to keep them neutral. Use burlap, ribbon, yarn or whatever accessories you have on hand to add a bit of minimal colour and texture to the faux gift packages. Place them on a bookcase, sideboard, or wherever you need some decor throughout your home. These are great because if a young child happens to get a hold of these, they are fast, inexpensive and easy to recreate!
3. Decorative Vases
I have a number of clear vases (although most dollar stores have a variety of glass jars and vases at reasonable prices as well). I selected a few vases of varying heights, and added the natural stones I bought at the dollar store into the bottom of each of them (evenly distributed).
First I added some branches that I found at our local park into the tallest one, and strung the battery operated lights onto the branches.
For the second vase, I added an LED flickering candle on top of the rocks. Again, most dollar stores will carry these as well, or you may have a natural candle as well you could use for this decoration.
For the third vase I had intended to use pine cones, but was not able to find any in the great outdoors. Instead, I found these blooms from a bush on a stroller walk with my son and used them instead for an element of nature with a bit of colour. Be creative and use whatever you can find! I also twisted some silver wire around the middle of this vase to add another dimension to it. You could also use burlap or yarn, or even ribbon.
4. Handmade Holiday Sign + Free 8X10 Printable Signs
Have an extra frame around the house? Or, do you want to update an existing frame to add some holiday decor? Simply download these free holiday printables I've created for you, print them out, and place them in an 8X10 frame for your enjoyment! We are sporting the "Oy To The World" image in our home, but I've also created a "Joy To The World" printable image as well. What I love about this option is that this decor, when hung in a pre-existing spot on the wall, you know that your little one won't be able to pull it down and it is safe!
If possible, try to use what you have on hand as supplies. I happened had a larger frame that needed a makeover, so I repainted it (with leftover paint), cut some matting for it (which I also had from a previous project) to ensure the frame would fit an 8X10 printable image, and that allowed me to create a larger-looking image with more impact in our front foyer.
5. Window Decor
Finding easy and durable items that you can stick on, or hang up high, in your windows can help to keep decor out of arms' reach from little ones. I located some stick on snowflakes at our dollar store, but also saw a variety of snowflakes that could be hung in the widow as well. A mix of different snowflakes of different colours and textures hung at different heights would also look really nice. We ended up doing a combination of both the stick-on snowflakes in addition to hanging some salt dough decorations in our window.
What are some of your favourite DIY decorations for the holidays? Comment below - I would love to hear about some more fun ideas!