Amid a pandemic, some have had to tighten their belts. Others, abiding by social distancing guidelines, may be celebrating Christmas at home for the first time, or for the first time in a very long time. But that doesn’t mean all holly jolly is lost.
Enter Benjamin Bradley, star of Netflix‘s “Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas,” which premiered in November. Over four episodes filmed in 2019, Bradley, aka Mr. Christmas, comes to the rescue of families with decorating struggles. Some of his tips involve simple crafts made from inexpensive items, such as homemade ornaments and decor made from peppermints.
Now, as we enter the thick of the Christmas season, he shares more insight and ideas with USA TODAY. Read on Dasher, Dancer, Prudent, Vixen, Comet, Frugal, Donner and Blitzen for budget-friendly decorating ideas.
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1. Don’t try to decorate every nook and cranny
Hone in on just a couple of areas of your home and don’t try to touch everything with the Christmas spirit, Bradley suggests.
“It doesn’t have to be a Hallmark movie come to life,” he says. One area of focus should be the Christmas tree, he says. Another could be a book case, mantel or kitchen counter.
“Just do things a little bit in abundance in those two places,” he advises.
A similar approach can be taken with the food and beverages served. “Pick one cocktail,” Bradley says, offering an example of champagne with a splash of pomegranate as a festive option.
2. Reimagine the decorations you already own
Do you see what I see? Yes, a new use for that garland and ‘Noel’ sign.
“This year in particular, don’t go out and spend money on new things,” Bradley says. He suggests taking stock of what you have already own by pulling it out for review. Then assess what you have and think creatively about where else it could might go, resulting in a fresh look.
Another tip is to make every day items more festive. Add a bow or ribbon to candle holders, or wrap already hanging pictures in seasonal gift wrap as a cost-effective solution for wall art.
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3. Statement pieces don’t have to be expensive
Bradley points out that dollar stores are great to find ornaments, artificial flowers and candy canes.
“There’s nothing that’s more iconic and says Christmas more than a candy cane,” he says. Pile them high in glass jars adorned with holly, he suggests. Have a pretty bowl or basket lying around? Fill it with red ornaments and greens sprigs to “make a wonderful statement.”
Also, peppermints can be hot-glued to one another to make an inexpensive garland. And white carnations and cranberries picked up from the local grocery store can create a wintry centerpiece.
4. Oh what fun it is to DIY
Ornaments can be made at home for the tree or as an option for affordable gifts. Bradley mentions a dough made from cinnamon and apple sauce, which can be rolled out and shaped using cookie cutters.
“It’s beautifully scented, so you get a beautiful decoration, as well as the scent of the holidays,” he says.
On “Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas,” Bradley instructs on how to make a salt dough ornament, which can be used to preserve hand or paw prints for many Christmases to come.
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5. Go foraging in a winter wonderland
Your surroundings may offer decor on the cheap. Bradley suggests visiting local tree lots and asking for the discarded bottoms of trees.
“Most places will give those to you for free,” he says. They can be transformed into garlands and wreaths.
Bradley, a lover of pine cones, scoops them up in Central Park and incorporates them into designs such as embellishing garland. Pine cones can also fill a bowl or be made into ornaments. Just be sure to de-critter them. “You can just stick those in your oven for like 2 hours at 200 degrees, and it debugs them.”
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