We had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. There has been so much going on at our house that the actual holiday seemed almost like an afterthought. For months we’ve been living with boxes everywhere – the entire contents of our kitchen packed into plastic bins and cardboard boxes – so the thought of bringing out even more boxes that would then need to be put away in a few weeks… well, no thank you.
But a couple of weeks ago one of the guys working on our house casually asked if we celebrate Christmas since we didn’t have any decorations, and it convinced me we really needed to do something, and I decided to get creative. From scraps of cardboard boxes that we had in abundance to regular old cottonballs, I made some simple decorations that turned into probably my favorite display ever. Now I’m really excited about Christmas — just in time!
Here’s what we did…
Modern Cardboard Christmas Tree DIY
Yep, I made a cardboard Christmas tree! I kind of love my post-modern Christmas tree. I love how simple it is. It isn’t demanding a lot of attention! Plus, I didn’t need to move any furniture or bring out any boxes of ornaments, and it’s not going to drop needles anywhere! For this project I used a giant cardboard box that my new dining room chairs were delivered in, and used scissors to cut two sides at an angle to form a triangle. I originally thought I’d need to cut two triangles and glue them together, but Andy reminded me that I could use a corner of the box to do the exact same thing with a lot less work. Ugh, he’s so smart sometimes! With my scissors I trimmed around the edges to make them clean and straight and then I painted the whole thing with two coats of white paint we already had. After a couple of days, I thought it was missing something and painted on the gold polka dots. We also only used black and white wrapping paper this year, to fit with our simple theme.
I also used some leftover pieces of cardboard (we have SO much cardboard right now!) to make a few smaller trees for the mantle. I cut traingles of various sizes and painted them in a few different patterns of stripes and polka dots with white and gold paint. I love the super subtle effect against our pale blue walls and black fireplace.
Snowball Garland DIY
This is one of my favorite DIY projects ever. When I was first thinking about what kind of decorations I wanted to make, I kept thinking I’d like to do something with a lot of white, and I kept thinking about “walking in a winter wonderland.” Well what’s white and looks like snow? Cottonballs! I used a sewing needle to string cottonballs on clear fishing line. I spaced them about a hand’s width apart because I wanted them to feel really airy, and used a little bit of hot glue to make sure the cottonballs stay in place. I used about 350 cottonballs, and then taped the strings up to drape over the entire dining room. It’s so festive and fun. I seriously am soooo in love with this project. I love sitting in the dining room and looking up at all the snowballs.
*Professional tip: be really careful with the fishing line because it will get crazy tangled if you even look at it wrong. I wasn’t careful at all, and Andy spent hours untangling these one cottonball at a time, while I was sulking and being grumpy and mad at myself, which really defeats the purpose of a quick and simple project. So, don’t be me.
Besides the decorations I DIYed, I brought out some turquoise tea light holders that I had leftover from our wedding (ok, this is one thing I unpacked from the attic) and used them to line the windows in the dining room and the mantle, along with some blue mason jars that live in this room. I love the blue candles/blue jars/blue walls effect with the gold and white decorations.
On the table, I used some sequined grey placemats I found at Target for 50% off (woo!) and my set of Shanna Murray for West Elm plates (which I found at the West Elm in Philadelphia on sale after they were no longer available online — again, woo!). The bottom white plate is just our everyday dishes from Crate & Barrel. Along the center of the table I put some star-shaped candle holders that are also from our wedding (they’re actually antique candy forms). Gold is my favorite, but I think mixing up gold and silver keeps things really fun and a little more casual.
We also moved our bar from the rumpus room into the dining room. It makes more sense to have the bar near the table and it fits in this spot next to the fireplace perfectly. All of these changes make me really excited to hang out in the dining room way more than we ever have. I hosted my book club’s annual cookie and wine exchange on Friday and we’re hosting a fun Christmas dinner for Andy’s immediate family as well. (The bottle on the far right is White Blossom (elderflower and grapefruit) vodka from Valentine Distilling in Royal Oak, Mich., and it’s amazing — just FYI. And yes, it should be in the fridge.)
From nothing to winter wonderland with little to no effort, this is definitely the cutest our dining room has ever looked. Next year I’m sure we’ll want a real tree and all of our old, traditional decorations that make me sentimental, but amongst all the chaos of house renovations, these clean and modern decorations feel just right.
Have a wonderful Christmas everyone! We can’t thank you enough for reading along every week and your comments mean the world to us! I wish I could give you all a hug. Merry merry Christmas and we’ll see you in a few days!
Dining table by Play-Haus Design, Cleveland, Ohio
Dining chairs — Overstock.com
Rug — Target
Placements — Target
Dishes — Shanna Murray for West Elm (no longer available online)
White plates — Crate & Barrel
Star candle holders — vintage from Etsy
Mason jars — vintage
Turquoise glass tealight holders — similar
Bar cabinet — my great-grandfather’s
Ohio whiskey glasses — Cleveland Clothing Co. (not available online, we actually had to reserve them in advance because they sell out super fast)
Fish bar glasses — vintage from the Cleveland Flea