613 Holiday Special: Holiday Decor — Buy or DIY?

Hi everyone! This post marks the second in our Ottawa blogger 613 Holiday Special series. Follow five Ottawa bloggers as we set our tables, deck our halls & try to survive the holiday season with style & cheer. Grab your eggnog and toast to the season with us every Monday until Dec 23rd. Happy Holidays!  

I readily admit that I am always a late-comer to the holiday decorating season. I never seem to haul out the boxes early enough to really embrace enough of the decorating fun. The house always seems so naked in January when all the decorations are down and I curse myself for not getting into the Christmas action earlier. What’s better than twinkly lights, pine boughs and a big ol’ tree that even if it doesn’t last more than a few weeks, you’re still a green thumb success!?

So this year, amid the disaster of our kitchen reno, I hauled out some of my Christmas goods and started to get into the holiday spirit. I haven’t cracked out the YouTube Fireplace video yet…but that’s not too far behind! I always do a mix of home-made and store-bought decorations. To avoid a house that looks like a commercial showroom I tackle a few crafts. And to avoid a house that looks a little too cute-sy I add a few store-bought pieces.

So, To Buy or DIY. ‘Tis the question I will address today.


Since they are seasonal, I vote to DIY the holiday-themed pillows. I’ve seen holiday napkins sewed into pillow covers, bows tied around pillows to make them look like gifts, and hand-sewn applique pillows that add an air of festiveness without too much money.

On the other hand, if you can find a pillow that can last throughout the winter, that might be an investment I’d be willing to make.

Here’s my favourite pillows of the season:

urban barn raccoon toss pillow

Urban Barn

peacock pillow chapters


And here are some cute napkins that would make potential pillows under your own steam and well under budget.


Pier 1


The Bay


The Tree

Last year we used a tiny little fake tree for our Christmas icon. We chose fake, small and out of reach because our little guy was all hands and our ornaments might not have stood the test of toddler time.

jimmy and the tree

The year before we had a real tree — and it was amazing. I’m not against a great fake tree, but I’m always partial to the real tree that doesn’t need precious storage space throughout the remainder of the year. #nostorageinmyhouse!

When I was on a Homes for the Holiday tour last weekend I saw the most gorgeous faux tree from Costco. The owner said she would have paid the $40 extra to have it pre-lit so I’ll take her on her word and say, go for pre-lit if you want the most seamless Christmas tree experience.

costco christmas tree



Anyone game for a feather tree? It might be cute in a small space or as an accent tree. Bouclair even sells sets of coordinating ornaments.




The Exterior

This year scrooge may, or may not have hit the front of our house. Not a single light! Not a wreath or any sort of Christmas-y delight. I’ll try to rectify that soon and breathe some life into our snowy driveway that’s decorated only with a Bagster filled with kitchen reno debris. The happy folks on Taffy Lane in Orleans would have us run out of town if we lived there.


Taffy Lane resident c/o The Orleans Star

I’m loving the look of this wreath that was on the Ottawa Homes for the Holidays tour raising money for hospice care. It’s on my “do to” list for a home made wreath. (I’m not saying which year the list is for though ;-))


c/o The Ottawa Citizen

The Holiday Table

This will mark my first year hosting Christmas for my family. (No pressure to get the kitchen done eh ;-) ) I will probably cook a roast rather than a turkey, but the rest of my table will be pretty traditional.

newberrysykes holiday table

We always, always wear those paper crowns from the Christmas crackers. I will not let the family off the hook down by not having them. BUT this year I want to make my own crackers. I’ll have to come up with some suitably bad jokes and some fun little prizes but I’m most excited about making paper crowns. I’m going to follow some of Becki’s helpful hints when making my crackers this year.

If you’re a normal person, you’re probably going to head to the store and buy some Christmas crackers instead. Ma Cuisine has some sweet traditional Nutcracker crackers that might fit the bill nicely.


Ma Cuisine

The Rest of the House

Forgive me for not having more pictures of my house this season. But then again I’m not sure how many people want to see how I’ve nestled my dining room table beside my sofa or how I’ve delicately stacked my boxes of cereal in the media centre beside the TV. While the kitchen reno marches on, we’re living, cooking and dining in one room.

So I’ll just show you one corner of my house that has managed to remain seasonal despite the appliances we’ve moved into the room. I showed you this picture on Saturday’s post, but I’ll add a few more details today.

Free Ottawa Printable Newb copy

The mirror is a fun find from Pier 1 years ago. The LOVE in Ottawa printable was something I created in Photoshop (and provided for you as a free download). The Drinks menu is just a frame with a black chalkboard photo tucked inside, then I used a chalk marker to write on the glass. I can change it up to whatever I want and it can last all year round.

The tall cocktail glass has a pretty gold base that I added with gold craft paint. I also added a gold rim to the small glass bowl to create a gold set. The only thing to keep in mind is that adding the gold rim to the bowl makes it entirely inappropriate for food safety and only appropriate for the pretty. The gold charger beneath the champagne is a $1 score from The Dollar Store. And finally the ornament on the top right is a simple clear plastic ball from Michael’s for $.50 and I filled it with white feathers that came in a big pack for just a few dollars. It’s a tiny bit of pretty in a living room filled with quite a few appliances that aren’t so pretty this season ;-)

PHEW! Well, fear not the ideas are still flowing…there’s more creativity coming your way from the rest of the Holiday 613 Special team! Please make sure to hop over to another one of these bloggers to see what’s going on in their decorating minds today.

Alicia @ keepitbeautifuldesigns.com
Fiona @ justsettledown.ca
Gemma @ thesweetestdigs.com
Lisa @ http://www.lisagouletdesign.com
613 holiday special


14 Comments on 613 Holiday Special: Holiday Decor — Buy or DIY?

    • Meredith Newberry
      December 9, 2013 at 10:46 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Sabrina! You and I can’t look past a DIY can we? :)

  1. Gemma
    December 9, 2013 at 9:52 am (3 years ago)

    What a fabulous round up of ideas! That photo of the guy with the outdoor christmas lights has me chuckling :)

    We are also grinch-y this year at our place with no lights to be seen! Next year!

    • Meredith Newberry
      December 9, 2013 at 10:47 am (3 years ago)

      I know! It looks like he’s wondering how he could get ousted from the neighbourhood but his wife won’t let him ;)

  2. Nicki Traikos
    December 9, 2013 at 10:20 am (3 years ago)

    That door wreath is STUN-Ning!!!! I need to get better organized next year and make my own wreath and table top decor too!! Lovely blog!

    • Meredith Newberry
      December 9, 2013 at 10:44 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Nicki! There’s still time to make one! ;) Maybe we could use powerful peer pressure and dare each otherto get ourselves in gear?!

  3. Lisa Goulet
    December 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm (3 years ago)

    Ha Ha my Mom loves those Christmas crackers as well, and too make sure I don’t forget, she’s bringing them to my place on Christmas Day! I can’t imagine trying to do Christmas decorating with a full blown reno going on, especially the kitchen. I think your Christmas stash can just wait until next year to be unveiled.

    • Meredith Newberry
      December 9, 2013 at 2:02 pm (3 years ago)

      You let me know if she forgets them…I can deliver ;) And today while I hide from being in the way of the electricians… I might have to agree; decorations can wait!!

  4. Alicia
    December 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm (3 years ago)

    Ummm, I love that wreath. Beauty! Isn’t it so great that stores now allow the decorating process to be so easy with everything coordinated. There is almost no excuse anymore not to give your house holiday decorating love. Also, how amazing are you trying to decorate during a reno. Super woman!

    • Meredith Newberry
      December 9, 2013 at 8:54 pm (3 years ago)

      Alicia, I think I am NOT going to be amazing this year. I’ve left a tiny tree in the corner of the room and the rest, well, the rest might just have to wait until…Valentine’s Day? ;)

  5. Dani @ lifeovereasy
    December 10, 2013 at 11:42 pm (3 years ago)

    So many ideas here! Sounds like you have a lot of fun plans for the next few weeks.

    • Meredith Newberry
      December 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks Dani! My husband has other words for those plans these days ;) But in between those plans I’m totally making some of you quick and easy gifts for foodies. Too perfect to miss. :) M

  6. Tash @ The Dreamhouse Project
    December 11, 2013 at 11:47 am (3 years ago)

    SO many great ideas here…and can I just say that your little guy hugging his teddy in front of the tiny tree – MIGHT be the cutest. Picture. EVER! I would totally buy that as a print to hang every year for the holidays. Would make a fantastic Christmas card too. :)

    • Meredith Newberry
      December 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm (3 years ago)

      Ummm…Tash…you’re brilliant. Why didn’t I ever think of that? I’ve narrowly escaped two awkward Santa visits when I’ve already got the perfect shot haven’t I? Thanks for the objective look! :) M


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