Sunday, December 2, 2012

Man, I'm Broke Monday: Christmas Decor That's Awesome and Cheap

Friends, I've been away for two weeks because blogger told me I didn't have any free photo storage left, and I've spent all this time debating whether to ever post a photo again.  The problem is that people really like pictures (people also like donuts), and I can't just offer free donuts to everyone.  So here I am, back to my usual shenanigans, a little broker just so you can have a few photos to look at (you'd better be grateful).

It's Christmas, y'all!
Today, I'm going to teach you how to decorate your house for Christmas without requiring a second mortgage to pay for it all.  To my regular readers, I know you expect a certain level of tongue-in-cheekiness, but let me warn any newcomers that my advice is, well, um, extremely valuable and carefully considered.  Martha Stewart worthy, in fact.  And I'm never known to exaggerate or tell complete lies. Ever.

So here are my priceless tips.

1)  Have an appreciation for vintage items.  You must like older things that may or may not be falling apart in order for the rest of the advice to really work.  So if you must have new, shiny decor, stop here. I can't help you.

From Ryan's collection.
2)  Never ever ever throw any Christmas item away. Keep it all.  This goes against my usual mantra of "throw it away if it's rarely used", but for Christmas, sometimes the only way for a broke citizen to decorate is to use last year's stuff. Or maybe even stuff from before you were born but your mother painstakingly stored on the off chance you'd want them as an adult.  All Christmas crafts you ever attempted, including the pretzel wreath you made in 1st grade (part of which was decimated by roaches the year you lived in that hovel on Dell Drive in Columbus, GA), should be kept.  If you have kids, do the same for them.  I've only thrown away one big Xmas decoration and it was also a victim of said roaches (a dried apple Santa or something like that.  It was so messed up I couldn't bare to look at it).

The roaches only got one of the pretzels.

3)  Buy a live tree.  But an inexpensive one.  In years past, we've had small Charlie Brown style trees, but this year I wanted bigger without the bigger price tag.  So we headed over to a local church where they had many varieties at all price points. We opted for a 6 foot Scots Pine (our ceilings are only about 7.5 feet tall, so we can't go crazy anyway).  It looks like it was picked straight out of a fantasy forest.  And just like in fantasy books, this tree will flat out attack you.  It's spiny and painful, but it was only $30.  The upside is that its branches hold ornaments very well not only because they're pretty hefty but also because any child who dares to put their hands near the tree will pay.  I know my arm hurts from decorating this nasty beast.  I also keep waiting for it to grow legs and start walking around the house screaming it's going to eat me.

There should've been a disclaimer to sign for this prickly cactus-like tree.  

4)  Never say no to free stuff.  When my mom offers me old Christmas decorations, I take 'em.  She also sends me things she found on clearance, like the 72 feet worth of lit garland we just hung up outside.  Yeah, I know it's unfair that I'm telling you it's easy to be cheap when you're given stuff, but I read advice along these lines all the time in Bloglandia.  You read "tips and tricks" on some site about frugal home decor, and lo and behold, it turns out the blogger was comped every item she recommended (I say "she" because they're almost all chicks).  That is infuriating!  But apparently, it's accepted practice, so I'm just jumping on that bandwagon.

Yes, I'm old!  But that makes me awesome!
5) Use vines and plants from the yard rather than purchasing garland.  Just don't bring in poison ivy or get caught trimming your neighbor's evergreens.  A rash, while a gift that keeps on giving, isn't that Christmas-y, except that it's red.

Nativity, gifted by my mother.
6)  After Christmas this year, prowl around expensive neighborhoods looking for decor castoffs.  You're doing the environment a favor by keeping it out of the landfill, and you're embracing "vintage" when you re-use.  I find it's best practice to do this in pairs, that way the driver can slam on the gas while you run for the van after the police start advising you that perhaps it's illegal to sift through the garbage.  (Related story: when we moved from Memphis, we put bags out on the street the night before we headed out of town.  That evening, a car drove up and tossed a few bags in the car and sped off.  Turns out they took our garbage and left the goodies.  Lucky folks!) You can also try garage sales and thrift stores, but that involves spending money, and I know I don't have any.

7) If you're feeling inadequate, buy some holiday nog and drink some.  But only buy it on sale. Or ask your mother to give it to you.

Hope this helps, broke people of America!  Even us little peoples can enjoy Christmas decor!


  1. is that one of those shelf elfs? (yes, i just couldn't say elves.) you know, the devious ones that shave your head while you sleep?

    your tree is beautiful!

  2. Brilliant advice, as per usual. And really, when is vintage stuff ever not awesome!?

  3. Your tree is gorgeous. As far as old goes... the older the better!! Love your decorating!



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