5 Simple Outdoor Homemade Holiday Decorations

Outdoor decorating for the holidays does not have to be costly and difficult. Many decorations are easily made with simple, inexpensive materials.

It's fun and easy to decorate your home and yard for holidays. Whether it's putting up a flag and bunting for the 4th of July, a scarecrow and pumpkins for Thanksgiving, or wreaths and lights for Christmas, outdoor decorating need not be costly nor difficult; many decorations are easily made with simple, inexpensive materials. Here are some ideas you may want to try.

4TH OF JULY FLUTTER WREATH

Make a holiday wreath for the 4th of July that you can hang from a tree branch, and the ribbons will flutter when the wind blows.

Supplies you will need are:

Styrofoam or straw wreath

Red, white, and blue ribbon

Florists' wire

Package of small US flags

Cut three pieces of florists' wire; make each about three feet long. Holding the wreath horizontally, wrap a piece of wire around it and twist the wire to secure it to the wreath. Repeat for the other two pieces of wire, locating each a third of the way around the wreath from the first piece. Pull the pieces up to meet and twist the wires together to form a hook shape; it should look similar to a hanging basket for flowers. You could use wire hangers instead of florists' wire; you will need pliers to straighten and shape this type of wire.

Hang the wreath to make it easy to decorate. Use straight pins, staples or toothpicks to secure pieces of ribbon to the wreath. Wrap the ribbon around the wreath a couple of times and then let 2-3 feet of ribbon hang down below the wreath. Repeat all the way around the wreath. You can use ribbon that is red, white, and blue striped, or you can use rolls of the individual colors. When you finish you will have ribbon streamers hanging down all the way around the wreath. If you want, you can pull some of the streamers up along the wires and gather them at the top.

Stick the little flags all along the top of the wreath, and you have a pretty flag wreath. Hang the wreath from a tree branch; just put the hook over a branch and twist the wire to secure. You could also hang the wreath from a hook under a porch. If you have an outside electric plug, you could add red, white, and blue lights to the wreath for a more spectacular display.

HALLOWEEN LUMINARIES

Luminaries are made from small sacks with candles inside, and they look great lighting up the path to your door for Halloween.

Supplies you will need:

Lunch size sacks in orange, black, or white

Votive candles and candle cups

Kitty litter, sand, or gravel

Hole punch

Decide how many luminaries you want to make and purchase that number of sacks. Choose a Halloween design such as a pumpkin, witch, or ghost; coloring books often have good, simple designs. Trace your design onto a piece of paper. Using the hole punch, punch holes around the design until it resembles a connect-the-dots picture. Using the punched design as a template, place it on one of the sacks. Use a marker to put a dot on the sack through the punched-out holes. Remove the template, and use the hole punch to punch out the dots on the sack. You will then have a design on the sack. Repeat the process for all of the sacks.

Fill each sack with a couple of inches of kitty litter, sand, or gravel. Put a candle in a cup and place in the center of the filler in each sack. On Halloween night, place the luminaries along the path to your door. Light the candles and the design will glow spookily though the holes. If you worry about trick-or-treaters upsetting the candles, put the luminaries along the front of the house rather than along the sidewalk. You can also put each candle cup in a small bowl of water for added safety.

THANKSGIVING SCARECROW

Fall is a fun time to decorate outdoors; it's cooler and kids can have a blast raking up leaves and making a scarecrow.

Supplies you will need:

Old clothing, including a pair of jeans or overalls, a flannel shirt, boots or shoes, a hat, and gloves

Old pair of pantyhose

Straw

Leaves

Hay-baling string

Newspapers or fiberfill

Rake up a nice pile of leaves to use for stuffing the scarecrow. Stuff the shirt and pants with leaves, typing the ends with the string. Tuck the shirt into the pants or overalls, and tie at the waist with string. Stuff the gloves with newspaper or fiberfill, attach to the ends of the sleeves of the shirt, and tie at the wrists with string. Make a head by stuffing the panty part of the pantyhose with the fiberfill or newspaper, tie a knot in each leg at the base of the panty, and tie with string at the top. Put the pantyhose head on top of the shirt, pulling the legs down into the shirt. Put the hat on top of the head. Add some touches of straw for hair and stick some in the wrists, around the shirt buttons, and at the ends of the pants legs.

You can put the scarecrow on a bench, on a bale of hay, or stick a rake in the ground handle side down and use string to tie the neck of the shirt to the rake. After you have arranged him, put the shoes at the end of the pants legs. For a better display, add some pumpkins, mums, corn stalks, or other fall foliage surrounding the scarecrow.

CHRISTMAS WREATH

Wreaths are a beautiful addition to holiday decorations, and there are many possibilities for ornamentation. A very simple yet beautiful wreath can be made using cranberries.

Supplies you will need:

Styrofoam wreath

2-3 packages of cranberries

Red spray paint

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Spray paint the styrofoam wreath red. Allow to dry. Using the hot glue gun, glue the cranberries to the wreath, spreading them out evenly. Hang outside on the door or front of your home. Small wreaths can be used as candle rings; set outside around the door and insert a red or white pillar candle inside the ring.

HOLIDAY WREATH WITH LIGHTS

Make a large holiday wreath to hang on the outside of your home or on a tree in your yard. Add twinkling lights to make it sparkle.

Supplies you will need:

Wreath pattern

Foam board

Exacto knife

Red and green spray paint

Several sets of red and green mini-lights

Find a simple pattern of a holiday wreath with a bow at the bottom. Enlarge the pattern on a copy machine or grid to the size you want your wreath to be. Tape the pattern to the foam board. Use the exacto knife to cut out the pattern on the foam board.

Cut away the pattern of the bow from the paper wreath pattern. Use double-sided tape and attach on the backside of the paper pattern of the bow to the front of the bow on the foam board. Spray paint the wreath part of the foam board with the green paint. Allow to dry. Remove the bow pattern and attach the paper wreath pattern to cover the green part of the foam board. Spray the bow with the red paint. Allow to dry.

Count the number of lights you have purchased. You should have green lights for the wreath and red lights for the bow; usually you will need 2-3 times as many green lights, depending on the size of the wreath. Carefully make holes with the exacto knife in the red part of the foam board (stick the point of the knife in and twist); if you have 50 red lights, make 50 holes, scattering them around in an even pattern. Before making the holes, measure the distance between the lights on the strand and make sure that you do not make the holes farther apart than that measurement. The holes should be a little larger than the lights. Repeat this process for the green lights on the green part of the foam board.

After you have finished the holes, push the lights through each hole, connecting the light strands together as you come to the end of each strand. Hang the wreath on your house or on a tree and plug in the lights. At night the wreath will be a twinkling display of light in your outdoor display.

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