Thrifty mother reveals how to decorate your home for Christmas for free – from a foraged tree to making nail varnish baubles and toilet roll napkin rings

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Claire Douglas, 40, foraged for branches and leaves in her garden to create a 'fake real tree'

A mother has revealed how to decorate your home this Christmas without spending a single penny – including foraging for branches and shrubs to build a tree and creating a unique marbled effect on baubles using nail varnish.

Claire Douglas, 40, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, specialises in money-saving and creative home interior projects, and has spent years developing her ‘bespoke on a budget’ approach.

From foraging for flowers, leaves, sticks and branches to create rustic garlands and wreaths, to upcycling and re-using materials and cardboard packaging for DIY furniture and textural styling, Claire has always enjoyed finding cheaper and sustainable ways to enhance her living spaces.

This has become particularly important for the freelance interiors writer and content creator due to the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis – and with Christmas just around the corner, she wants to offer some handy tips to help others open their minds to the ways in which they can decorate their homes without breaking the bank.

Her hacks include decorating baubles with nail varnish, foraging for greenery and using the leaves and branches to create a ‘fake real tree’, creating Christmas crackers and napkin rings with leftover toilet roll tubes, and even drying fruit on the radiator as added decoration for fairy lights.

Claire Douglas, 40, foraged for branches and leaves in her garden to create a ‘fake real tree’

Claire has also made concete-style candle holders and vases from soaking fabric napkins in a microcement mixture, wrapped empty boxes as extra decorations, and created festive displays by adding baubles to bowls – all of which cost her nothing yet added style and originality.

‘Social media is great, but at this time of year, it is just awash with people who are spending obscene amounts of money,’ Claire explained.

‘You scroll through and it’s almost overwhelming, you just think, “I can’t compete with this”… and especially with the cost-of-living crisis, it puts people off.

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‘I just wanted to come at it from a different angle. Rather than, “how much money can you throw at this”, there are loads of other ways which aren’t going to negatively impact the planet or your bank balance and can be quite fun to do… and you can get your kids involved, too.’

Claire has amassed 28,000 followers on both TikTok and Instagram, and loves running her blog, Claire Douglas Styling, where she posts helpful tips and tutorials on room transformations for people on a budget. She also offers product recommendations and online courses.

Last year, ahead of the festive season, Claire focused on finding sustainable, cheap ways to decorate her home, including building her own Christmas tree by using foliage.

Rather than buying a real Christmas tree or upgrading her existing artificial one, she decided to take a more hands-on, budget-friendly approach and go foraging to make her own.

With only a short trip into her garden, Claire carefully obtained branches, shrubs and leaves – without damaging the greenery – to build a Christmas tree around her existing artificial one that she no longer used but did not want to throw away.

Claire created a stunning tablescape, incorporating napkin rings made from old toilet rolls

Claire created a stunning tablescape, incorporating napkin rings made from old toilet rolls

Claire's DIY nail varnish baubles have a unique marbling effect They create a striking aesthetic that you won't see anywhere else

Claire’s DIY nail varnish baubles have a unique marbling effect that you won’t see anywhere else

Her Christmas baubles are created by adding warmed nail varnish to water then submerging the baubles

Her Christmas baubles are created by adding warmed nail varnish to water then submerging the baubles 

She only needed fairy lights, pine cones, fruit and thread to create garlands The mother combined dried fruit and painted pine cones to create garlands

The mother used dried fruit and painted pine cones to create garlands

Claire showed how she makes napkin rings without spending any money She cuts up old toilet rolls and ties napkins around them

She shared the budget-friendly process of making napkin rings using cut up toilet rolls 

She then added her own decorations to create an ombre effect. This year, she might even spray paint her tree as she is planning to build her own again.

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The freelance interiors writer and content creator posted a video of this hack on her TikTok account (@clairedouglasstyling) last year and it received nearly 900,000 views.

‘You can do it the traditional way – you just get conifers, and you make it look like a real tree – or you can be a little bit more creative,’ she said.

‘I ended up getting lots of different shrubs and foliage, just anything that was alive in the winter in our garden, and added decorations and some colour.

‘I made it an ombre pink and silver style a couple of years ago and it looked really good – and again, it cost nothing because we already had the tree, and the foliage was free.’

More recently, Claire has posted tutorials on how to turn toilet roll tubes into napkin rings by cutting the cardboard to the desired length and adding string, twine or ribbon.

Her ‘unique’ customised Christmas baubles are created by adding warmed nail varnish to water, submerging the baubles – or another decoration of choice – into the liquid, and leaving them to dry.

‘It’s fun, you can get the kids involved, and you can be as bold or restrained as you like with these things,’ Claire explained.

Claire updated her old faux Christmas tree by adding bushy branches from her garden

Claire updated her old faux Christmas tree by adding bushy branches from her garden

The mother, who specialises in money-saving and creative home interior projects, made an incredible tablescape

The mother, who specialises in money-saving and creative home interior projects, made an incredible tablescape

The freelance interiors writer and content creator pained pine cones to transform them into decorations

The freelance interiors writer and content creator pained pine cones to transform them into decorations 

Claire went foraging in her back garden to create this striking garland for her mantlepiece

Claire went foraging in her back garden to create this striking garland for her mantlepiece 

Claire Douglas lives in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and works as a freelance interiors writer and content creator

Claire Douglas lives in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and works as a freelance interiors writer and content creator

She has spent years developing her 'bespoke on a budget' approach and regularly shares her hacks on TikTok

She has spent years developing her ‘bespoke on a budget’ approach and regularly shares her hacks on TikTok

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‘You can go really wild on the colours, or if you’ve got more of a neutral interior palette, then you can sort of play to that, too.

‘There’s something for everyone with this kind of approach to decorating your home… and you can make fantastic things for free.’

Claire has another festive hack, which includes ‘pimping your boring fairy lights’ by adding decorations, such as painted pinecones or dried fruit.

Instead of going to the shops or putting the oven on for hours to dry the fruit, Claire cut up some oranges, placed the slices on paper, and left them on the radiator.

She has used ‘salt dough’ – made with flour, salt and water – to create Christmas decorations, and she has upcycled cardboard packaging to make various items, including a coffee table, for her home.

Claire, who believes she has saved around £15,000 over the last three years with her DIY projects, wants to encourage people not to be fearful of making mistakes and hopes that she can help others decorate their homes in a creative way that ‘saves money and waste’.

‘What started this whole project was literally the cost of living crisis,’ Claire said.

‘People were really struggling at this time of year, and the pressure of Christmas can be overwhelming anyway, so I wanted to come up with ideas where you didn’t have to spend any money.

‘So, if it wasn’t an option to go out and buy decorations, you could just literally make things from everyday items around the home.’

She added: ‘If people are a bit disheartened that they haven’t got money or time to spend, there are loads of ways you can make an impact on your home and make it feel really festive.’

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Source: tit.edu.vn

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