A cookie tree is a natural when you love baking. Find a good cookie recipe like a sturdy sugar cookie or gingerbread, and be sure to cut out a hole at the top of each cookie before baking so a ribbon can be attached. Or, bake your favorite cookies, insert them into clear cellophane bags, tie with a ribbon, and use those as tree ornaments (as well as party favors or gifts). Finally, add ornaments of your cookie cutters for another themed element.
A Card Tree
If you hate to part with beautiful Christmas cards each year, then save them to use as tree decorations. Glue the front and back halves together to make a sturdier ornament, punch holes in the top, then tie to the tree with ribbons. Or, cut out portions of the cards and decoupage them onto wooden craft shapes to use as ornaments. You might also find a particularly beautiful box of cards and turn them all into ornaments.
An Envelope Tree
Take care of gift giving and tree decorating by purchasing a box of colored envelopes. Decorate each one with holiday stickers, rubber stamps, glitter pens, or cutouts from greeting cards. Fill the envelopes with gift certificates, gift cards, tickets to games or events, photos of special friends, or homemade I-Owe-You certificates for special treats (one night of free babysitting). Mark each envelope with the recipient�€™s name or let guests draw an envelope �€œgift�€� to take home.
Use rubber stamps or a stencil to apply holiday designs on card stock or plain gift tags to use as tree ornaments. Decorate these with tiny satin ribbon bows, raffia loops, or inexpensive craft-store cording for more color.
Go for a cowboy theme with tied bundles of backyard twigs (to mimic firewood), a looped jute rope "garland" (buy rope at a hardware store), little twine lassos, birch bark shapes, calico fabric ties (see below for instructions), and cactus shapes fashioned out of construction paper. Add some pinecones, raffia bows, or knotted leather cords for a unique theme tree on a budget.
Since fall garlands will soon be on clearance, buy several to use as garlands around your tree this year. You can even spray paint them to look more like Christmas. Tuck into the branches for a natural look, then go for a rustic theme of twig wreaths, raffia streamers, pinecones, birdhouses, craft store birds, acorn ornaments and more.
Easy Fabric Ties
Purchase some gingham, burlap, or calico cotton fabric in one or more patterns and colors. Cut or tear the fabric into 1/2 to 1" strips. Use these as hanging loops for decorations. These can also be tied directly onto tree branches in knots or bows. Or, tie fabric bows onto a length of wire and wire the bows onto the branches. (Wired bows will be easier to remove and save from year to year.)
A Tree of Words
This year, your tree can "say" something if you decorate it with words like "Peace", "Noel", "Santa", etc. Look online or in craft stores for large and small balsa wood letter shapes that you can paint any color you wish. Drill a hole at the top for a hanging loop. For an even cheaper version, use a rubber stamp set, or simply write on card stock with calligraphy markers, print out words on a computer, or make a collage of words from newspapers or magazines. A coat of decoupage medium will glue the paper to a wood backing to help paper creations last longer.