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Shortcuts To Help You With Your Christmas Decor Ideas

12/08/2015 02:19 EST | Updated 12/08/2015 03:59 EST

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With Christmas around the corner, I've been on the lookout for inspired projects that will create a festive vibe with very little effort. The ideas gathered here (including a simpler way to adorn your home's exterior and a semihomemade gingerbread house) all use holiday staples and materials readily found around the house, so you can whip up decorations that are as budget friendly as they are simple. You can have just as much fun decking your halls this way as by going a more traditional route — but with less stress and with more money left when you are done.

Here are 15 quick, creative and crafty projects and ideas that you can pull off in no time flat.

1. Have a sense of humour. Have a serious sculpture, bust or work of art? Dress it up for the holidays with a wreath, Santa hat or hand-knit scarf. It will surely become the center of attention at your next party!

2. Make quick work of exterior decorating with oversize ornaments. Giant ornaments are cheap and readily available at this time of year from corner drugstores, crafts stores and big chains. I would pair a handful of oversize ornaments with a strand or two of old-fashioned big coloured bulb lights for a cheerful holiday look that can be put up in minutes, rather than hours.

3. Let wrapped gifts double as decor. Here's an incentive to get your holiday shopping done early: You can turn all of those presents into beautiful piles of decor! You don't even have to splurge on fancy patterned paper; just use solid paper and get creative with embellishments — chocolate-coloured wrap with plum-colored ribbon would be sophisticated and chic.

4. Make a pretty dessert display out of old dishes. Company on the way and you are short a serving platter? Make a charming dessert stand using spare dishes already in your cupboard with this super simple DIY.

Choose at least two plates of different sizes and at least one cup that all coordinate in a pleasing way (matching is not necessary) to create your stand. If you want the results to be temporary, use blue tacky putty (find it in arts and crafts stores) to adhere the layers; for a more permanent fix, use superglue or a hot-glue gun — just stick and stack, and you're done.

5. Add holiday magic to kids' rooms. If you have little ones in the house, there is no one who will appreciate a bit of holiday cheer more. Put a few mini wreaths on the wall, hang an extra stocking or mitten filled with stuffed animals on the bedpost or even bring in a miniature Christmas tree.

6. Craft quick paper ornaments. If your tree is a bit short on adornments, or if you need more unbreakable goodies to fill in where small hands can reach, try whipping up a few ornaments and paper chains made from old sheet music. Get the full instructions for making all of the ornaments in this photo right here.

7. Make a quickie version of your favourite gingerbread house ... with graham crackers. Not a fan of elaborate baking projects, but still want the experience of putting together a gingerbread house? Skip right to the fun part by making a semihomemade graham cracker house. Just follow a favorite gingerbread house pattern, but use graham crackers in place of the gingerbread, cutting shapes carefully with a crafts knife. Everyone knows kids mostly love the frosting and candy part anyway, so let little ones go to town once the house is assembled.

8. Give every room a small, special touch. Instead of going for the big impact, spread a little holiday cheer in every room in the house. Small touches, like an ornament hung on a mirror or a sprig snipped from your Christmas tree in a glass on the bathroom sink, will foster a warm, cozy holiday mood without much effort on your part.

9. Pile up extra ornaments under glass. If you have a bounty of ornaments, don't let those extras go to waste! Add sparkle to your mantel, buffet or coffee table by displaying them under a glass cloche, an apothecary jar or a large bowl.

More clever uses for old-school ornaments

10. Forage from nature for decor that is easy and green. Pile up acorns in apothecary jars and heap pinecones in baskets for a fuss-free, welcoming look. Greenery or bittersweet berries clipped from outside can also adorn a basic wreath form from the crafts store for an easy front door display.

11. Dress up the kitchen with fancy table lamps. If you are hosting a holiday open house, everyone is bound to end up in the kitchen. Make yours instantly more festive by turning off the overhead lights and setting table lamps on the counters instead. The warm glow will make everything look better ... even those dirty dishes in the sink.

12. Make easy paper bag luminarias. Fill brown or white paper bags with kitty litter or sand, and nestle votive lights inside for an incredible display that will last through an entire party. Line the walkway up to your house, place a bag on each step or just flank your front door; any way you choose, the effect will be magical.

13. Shop for decor at the grocery store. Keep an eye out for fruit, nuts and even veggies with gorgeous colors and shapes that can double as decor. Mound pomegranates and cranberries in a wooden bowl, arrange pears and figs on a tray, or fill a glass jar with walnuts and almonds in the shell for an easy, edible arrangement.

14. Make a subtle statement with snowy window letters. Spell out a word that evokes the season with one letter hung in each of several adjacent windows or glass doors. Make your letters using whatever materials you have on hand — white cardstock, cardboard wrapped in white fabric or yarn, white felt or even regular printer paper.

15. Display favorite holiday ingredients. One of the simplest ways to add a bit of holiday fun to your kitchen is to round up ingredients for holiday treats and make them into a mini display. Decant cocoa powder and marshmallows into glass containers, fill a jar with candy canes or cinnamon sticks, and group your favorite mugs onto a nice tray.

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