Christmas is the one time of the year when families have the chance to come together. Our lives have become so hectic, and we often go weeks without a proper conversation with each other. Christmas is a time to short-circuit the rush and give us a reason to spend time together. It's also a time when finances are stretch as any young family will readily tell you!

So how do you combine family time with budget decorating? Create a Memory Tree!

The idea is for each family member to make, find, or buy one decoration. (Or you can go wild and let each person make, find, AND buy 1 decoration.) Over time, as the decorations from past years are brought out, the memories and the fun will come flooding in, with all the warmth of a family at Christmas. From your little brother's first almost-successful attempt at cutting out, to your mother’s recent clay creation from pottery class - the whole history is there to share and enjoy together. And don't forget the pets. They get one too of course.

So how do you start?

Start with a tree. Here are some tricks to make a budget tree work wonderfully:

  • Get a smaller tree and raise it on a box. Cover the box with wrapping paper, fabric, or dacron snow. As an added bonus, now there's room for presents (and the cat!)
  • Put the tree in the corner of the room. That means you can put all of your decorations and lights in a smaller area. If they're closer together, you don't need as many and they look great!
  • If you want your tree to look more "full" you can angle more branches forward, or get a pine needle garland and wrap it deep amongst the branches for a great effect.

Creating decorations can be such a fun activity, and becomes an integral part of the joyful memories of creating your tree. Each person can think up their own ideas, and everyone can join in the fun! Here are a few ideas to make decorations:

  • Cover cookie cutters with adhesive paper. Soon you'll have fantastic angels and ginger bread people to decorate with!
  • Paint some walnuts gold and glue an opened paperclip to the top to hang them with. The texture and the colour is perfect! (Well, any colour you choose is perfect!)
  • Go to the beach or the bush and scout some pine cones. Leave then natural with a Christmas ribbon tied in a bow glued to the top, or spray paint them. Wrap wire deep inside the pine cone, and wire them directly to your tree branches. Easy!
  • My favourite is to find some bottlebrush seed pods and spray paint them for a naturally done, totally Australian decoration! Oh, and before the paint dries, sprinkle them with glitter. You can never have too much glitter.
  • Add ribbon and glitter to ordinary items to make really cute decorations. Wooden pegs, old toys, even Lego pieces! Spray adhesive is easy to get from a craft shop, or you can even use hair lacquer.

As you can see, the Memory Tree isn't really about budget. It's about creating wonderful times for your family that seep into your traditions, and give you a creative reminder each year of fun times, even as you create more! 


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