Cheap and cheerful Christmas decorations

Christmas is a pricey time of year, especially when most of us are already having to tighten our belts, but thankfully you don't have to spend a fortune on decorations to get in the festive mood.

budget christmas decorations
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Before you even consider trawling the shops for budget baubles and cut-price tinsel, take a look at what you already have. Old decorations that are beginning to look tired and worn, or baubles that have lost their string, can be easily refreshed with a little creativity.

Those mismatched Christmas baubles, for instance, can be piled into a glass bowl or wide vase to add festive cheer while Xmas cards, whether from this year or last, can be hung on a red ribbon or mounted on card to create a seasonal collage. Even leftover wrapping paper can be of use - just place inside an old or unused picture frame for a stylish piece of seasonal artwork.

Or why not take out some of those old traditional wooden toys or teddy bears. Wrapped with a ribbon they will give your home a little old-world seasonal charm.

Nature's bounty
Perhaps the easiest (and cheapest) way to decorate your house this Christmas is to head outside and gather some of the foliage and berries so readily available at this time of year. Red berries are already adorning the holly trees and will add that traditional look to your decor, while a trail of ivy above picture frames or along bannisters completes the scene.

Pine cones also come in handy. A few dried cones spilling from a wicker basket or a glass or silver bowl create a natural and seasonal decoration.

Even the twigs and branches from the trees can be used to create a display or door wreath. Take evergreen firs or leafless twigs and coat with silver or gold spray paint, or fake snow. Tie with a ribbon or use flower arranging foam for a stunning centrepiece for the table or mantlepiece.

Best of all, nature provides decorations free of charge... just don't steal them from the neighbour's garden!

Homemade goodies
Making decorations will not only save you a few pennies but is a great way to get the kids involved.

Food items make wonderful Christmas decorations. Invest in some shaped cookie cutters and bake gingerbread men and cookies - tied with a ribbon they will cheerily adorn your tree, while dried fruit such as oranges will add extra, vibrant colour. Simply cut slices to a 1cm thickness and dry them in the oven on a very low temperature.

Easy-to-make sweets, such as peppermint creams, wrapped in colourful cellophane will also add some colour to the décor (provided they last long enough to see Christmas Day!).

A cosy glow
Last but not least, candles will give your home a warm Christmas glow. Sitting amidst evergreen fronds and red berries they can be placed around the home to add festive colour, even when not lit. Don't bother with the expensive decorated variety - red and green, or even just white, will work just as well. Always remember, however, to place the candle in a stable holder with the flame well clear of anything flammable and never leave unattended when lit!

Do you make your own Christmas decorations? Leave your tips below...