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When there’s no money to spare for non-essentials like Christmas decorations, but Christmas decorations feel essential, we have to get creative with stuff we already have. The mantel decorations in the photo above? All that stuff was already in our house, we just had to find a way to turn that stuff into something special! Here’s the plan and how it came together.

The Supplies

With no plan in mind, we gathered some old… ahem… retro tree ornaments, our entire supply of holiday wrapping paper, old… oops… we mean vintage spools of ribbon, decorative tulle, and other odds and ends for inspiration and spread it all out on the kitchen table. Then we stared at it for a while.

The Space

A basic living room fireplace mantel looked like a perfect spot to turn a little effort into a big holiday statement… It displayed simple Paris-themed decorations and books in very un-Christmassy colors. 


Assessing the Supplies and the Space

  1. Almost all the supplies had a traditional colorway making them easy to mix and match.

  2. We needed to figure out how to fill the space that would be left empty by removing the framed Eiffel Tower print. (It was orange and had to go.)

  3. There was a good amount of plaid wrapping paper still on the roll… The framed print could be repurposed as a card display using the plaid paper!

  4. There were complementary wrapping papers to use as accents… The books could be wrapped like gifts with those matching papers!

  5. We found some old glass vases to fill with the matching tree ornaments.

Putting it All Together

It was surprisingly easy to assemble our ideas! Instead of taking apart the frame, we just cut the plaid paper to fit over the glass and attached it with double stick tape. We added some red cord across the inside of the frame (for hanging the cards) and taped down the ends, then used double stick tape to trim the inside of the frame with the vintage dark green velvet ribbon. (The ribbon hid the edges of the paper and the ends of the cords. Perfect!)

After setting up our new framed card display, we used some of the books that were already on the mantel and covered them with similarly colored wrapping paper, set them to the left of the frame and tied them with a gold tulle bow. We trimmed the glass vases with more dark green velvet ribbon, filled them with the tree ornaments, and arranged them nicely on the other side of the frame. The leftovers were sprinkled across the mantel and our decorating was done!

This kind of repurposing can be done for any season and in any colorway. Overstocked with lots of pink metallic things? Gather it all together for a soft and sparkly pink candy Christmas! Just black and white? Make the holiday mod!

Not spending cash can help you develop your creativity. In fact, some of the world’s most famous design and decor influencers grew their skills by turning what they had into what they wanted. Grab an artsy friend if you need to and see what you create for your own free Christmas decor (that no one else will know was free)!