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Fun, Fast and Frugal Holiday Projects

Often it’s the little things that make the holidays memorable. Here are some simple, inexpensive (and mostly kid-friendly) decorating ideas you can create as-is or modify and personalize to suit your style. And the best part is, they don’t take lots of time, money, tools or unusual materials. Simple. Holiday. Fun.

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Up a Wall

Up a Wall

Have a sofa-size painting or other large wall accent? For the holidays, remove it and use that wall space to hang small picture frames in the shape of a Christmas tree. You’ll create a heartwarming family tree of memories to enjoy all season long. Bright Idea: This wall-hung “tree” is a real space-saver for apartment dwellers.

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Serving Up Snapshots

Serving Up Snapshots

Why leave your favorite photos of winter fun stashed away in albums? Display them in your home for all to enjoy. A white wood tray provides the perfect backdrop for snowy snapshots of loved ones. We used a tray with an acrylic piece to cover these black-and-white photos. Wintry stickers accent the arrangement with splashes of color. Bright Idea: A photo-filled tray makes a lovely personalized gift for someone special. For example, cover the bottom of the tray with pictures of grandkids to give to grandparents.

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Photo Opportunity

Photo Opportunity

With your computer and an inkjet printer, you can turn your favorite holiday snapshots into fun window clings. And just print each photo on clear window decal paper (available at office supply stores) following the paper manufacturer’s instructions. Next, remove the backing from the printed photo and place it on your window for all to see and enjoy. Extra idea: Use a photocopier to transfer your child’s artwork onto the window decal to create a personal art display.

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A Fast Clip

A Fast Clip

This card holder is a snap to make with wire coat hangers. Twist and bend two hangers together to form a tree, creating a short trunk and a heart-shaped loop at the top for hanging. And paint about 60 wooden clip-on clothespins green and about four more brown. When the clothespins are dry, clip them to the wire, making a green tree with a brown trunk. Tie small strips of red fabric to the wire between the clothespins for added color. All that’s left to do is hang your holiday projects on the wall, attach Christmas cards and enjoy.

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Yuletide Yarn Tree

Yuletide Yarn Tree

If you have leftover yarn from knit, crochet or other projects, wrap it around a foam cone to create cozy Christmas trees which are fun holiday projects. And use tacky glue or a low-temperature glue gun to secure the yarn. For added fun, repeat the process with coordinating metallic yarn or other color, wrapping lightly enough to reveal some of the base yarn underneath. Bright Idea: Want more options for trimming your yarn trees? Attach buttons, yarn or ribbon bows, beads, small silk flowers or pinecones, silver or gold charms, tiny tree ornaments or even costume jewelry.

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Simple Christmas Tree Decorations: Advent Treasure Hunt

Simple Christmas Tree Decorations: Advent Treasure Hunt

Children will love this treasure hunt idea for Advent. For each day, write a clue to the location of a treat, roll the paper into a scroll and tie it with a ribbon, leaving one end long. Put the scroll into a clear shatterproof ball ornament and glue the long end inside the ornament top, making the scroll hang inside. Number the balls with stickers and cover the tops of the ornaments with ribbon.

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Shiny Pine

Shiny Pine

Ball ornaments don't have to be tree trims. They can be the tree! This one hangs in a frame with a 10- x 13-in. opening. For each row of the tree, lay a piece of wire horizontally across the back of the opening. Use a staple gun to tack one wire end to the frame, string on the ornaments and staple the other end. Secure the staples with a mallet and bend the wire ends over the staples. Add a bow as a topper. If you're looking for tips and hacks for your real or faux tree, don't miss this collection.

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Cascade of Color

Cascade of Color

Skip the usual tabletop centerpiece and display this lovely cluster instead. Simply thread a piece of wireless ribbon through the top of a ball ornament and knot the ribbon ends. Make more holiday projects hanging balls in the same way. And then slip the knotted end of each ribbon over a large open binder ring and close it. Hang the cluster from a light fixture or hook. Bright Idea: Hanging your centerpiece instead of setting it on the table saves space for an extra platter or bowl of holiday goodies.

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Creativity with a Colander

Creativity with a Colander

Dotted with holes for draining, this everyday cooking tool makes a perfectly charming luminary for your kitchen or dining table. Turn a silver or colored metal colander upside down and place a small battery-operated candle underneath to create pinpoints of light. On top, use the base of the inverted colander to hold an array of shimmering ball ornaments, pinecones or potpourri. Bright Idea: Want another fun option for the top of your colander luminary? Instead of finishing it off with an arrangement of ball ornaments, create an even brighter glow—use the inverted base for a votive candle or tea light in a holder.

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Green Thumb

Green Thumb

Put your extra terra-cotta pots to good use—turn them into a Christmas tree! Paint three pots of descending sizes with red spray paint and let them dry. Then use round sponges of various sizes to add dots of green acrylic craft paint. When the pots are dry, stack them to form a tree shape and tape a coordinating bow on top. Another terrific gift for a gardener is this cedar potting bench. You don't need any special woodworking skills to build it.