If you’re like me, then decorating for Christmas is its own ritual. You have a movie you watch every year while you do it, or music that always plays. There’s a specific order in which you put things up, and you will do it in that order no matter what. Everything has it’s place and it goes in that place every year since you can remember. Even if your parents change their home, or you now live on your own, there is a place for everything. For me Christmas decorations are sacred. They are the beginning of my favourite season which holds my favourite holiday. It means baking and gift wrapping and strings of lights and fuzzy blankets and socks. And it all begins with a bit of garland and some glittery baubles.
So when I moved out and into university residence, my first
November December was a little depressing. I knew I had helped my mom decorate our old tree and that I would be going home in a couple weeks to be surrounded by it, but I needed it’s comfort now! Exams were looming and final projects were already due. But I was also living on OSAP exclusively and didn’t exactly have all the money in the world to spend on a brand new tree or boughs of holly. But I still wanted to deck my halls, dammit! So here is how I did it.
This is the truest classic of all Christmas decorations. It’s the first type of decoration that anyone makes for themselves, and that’s because it’s extremely simple and requires exactly two ingredients: paper and scissors. Paper snowflakes were a solid 45% of my dorm room’s decorating. I hung them in the windows, taped them to the cabinets, and attached them to the front door. I made ones with random details and many triangles, but I also managed to make some with discernible Christmas trees, ribbons, and holly leaves. Either way, they are such an easy and dirt cheap way to brighten up your room. It’s also sort of therapeutic: folding up the paper, planning the pattern, carefully cutting out the pieces, and then unfolding them to see what happened. I found it helped when all the studying I had to do got to be a bit too much.
Cut up strips of paper, tape them in circles intertwining each other, and then you have a paper garland! Cut it into thin strips and curl them over a scissors edge to simulate ribbons. Use it to wrap your presents and colour in your own pattern. Tape some over the covers of your notebooks and planner and draw some Christmas decorations on it. Cut out letters and spell Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays on the wall. All you need is paper, something to write with, and scissors. If you want to get really fancy, markers, glitter, and coloured paper will up your game, but you don’t need them to brighten up your room!
I don’t think I will ever stop singing the praises of thrift stores. I love them for a million reasons, but one of those reasons is they are teeming with Christmas decorations! All year round they have figurines, stuffed animals, baubles, garland, and even lights. It can be a bit risky to buy electronics from a thrift store, since almost all of them have a “as is” rule, which means you can’t return it no matter what. However, many also have an electronic testing area you can test them out at. I actually still have the Christmas lights I bought from Value Village in my first year of university five years ago. I bought them in a value pack that even came with a small bag of replacement bulbs. I think that for three strings of lights and the replacement bulbs, it was $3. I also got another value pack will strings of beads and some candles for a similar price. Personally, I prefer old, kitschy decorations to new, chic ones, so the thrift store is perfect for finding those classics.
One of the best tips would be to raid your parents house for all the old Christmas stuff they don’t like or see a purpose for, but don’t want to throw out. An absolute treasure trove of this is Christmas cards. You’re parents probably have a huge box of them somewhere collecting dust. You can cut them into different shapes, just use the cover, or even hang them up on the fridge like you’ve just received them. Also, chances are all the writing is in the right side of the inside of the card, so you could cut off the front, write on the back and reuse it as a new gift tag. Another common ones is Christmas bows. I have an aunt who LOVES collecting these bows. She reuses them every year on her presents and honestly? It just makes sense. Wrapping paper and tissue paper can easily get ripped or too wrinkled, but the bows are almost always untouched. And until you actually wrap your presents, you could stick them to your walls, hang them in the windows, or tie them into your Christmas tree. Wrapping paper can be spread on tables like a cloth or you can pretend to wrap your refrigerator. Old Christmas VHS tapes can be put back out on shelves. Knotted tinsel can be taped inside lamp shades, low enough to dangle out. Put a Santa hat on your office chair. Get creative!
These are some pretty basic tips, but I hope they helped or inspired some of you! Really all you need is some Christmas spirit, and the rest will follow. I love making homemade decorations, and being creative can help stimulate your mind and relax you during a very stressful time for students. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!