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This is a landmark Christmas for me: my first Christmas in my eco-cabin. Compared to my 8×24′ tiny house, my 432 square foot eco-cabin seems like a palace! Celebrating Christmas in my own small cabin (on which I have done a great deal of the construction work myself) is quite special, but I now need to find holiday decor on a shoestring budget.
As you can imagine, construction these days is quite expensive. Everything was over budget, especially at the end of the process to get my permit to live in the cabin. As a result, I am on a budget this holiday season. I would like to share with readers a few of the treasures I have found in local thrift shops and beyond that have allowed me to decorate my eco-cabin in style this year, despite limited funds. I hope these stories will bring you joy and remind you of your own treasured holiday items.
My Dream Tree: Classic Holiday Décor that Fits in a Tiny Home
I am rationing my trips to the nearest city, in order to save cash and gas money. Therefore, I have been missing my hobby of shopping at the large thrift shops there. Sometimes, I don’t have to even spend a cent to be happy: I just like to look around and enjoy checking out the bargains. Early December was the last time I was there. I was feeling the desire to get a tree, but didn’t have a lot of cash. Certainly, with most of my living area being taken up with my dual-bevel mitre saw/stand, there isn’t a lot of space for a regular-sized tree!
I walked a few of the aisles of the local thrift shop, thinking about a tree for my eco-cabin. Imagine my surprise when I saw my “dream tree” sitting on top of a shelf above the clothing racks. It was a miniature artificial tree, sitting only 16 inches high. “Surely,” I thought, “I could find space for this!”
It had a built in pot for a stand, which was covered in sturdy burlap. What was amazing, though, was that it was already completely decorated with a mixture of little shiny bulbs and an impressive collection of cute little ornaments (teddy bears, nutcrackers, Santas, and more).
This tree needed a bit of TLC once I got it home. I gently straightened out its artificial limbs and rehung the ornaments to freshen it up. I had about ten little red velvet bows in my Christmas pantry. Once these bows were added to the tree, it looked absolutely stunning. The only thing missing for this little tree were some lights. I had a couple of strings of battery operated LEDs from my off-grid life that did the trick. It now sits proudly in my picture window.
This little treasure only cost me $2.50. I bought a beautiful star for the top of it for less than a dollar. That’s a whole lot of Christmas cheer and a wonderful piece of holiday decor for under $4!
My Teeny Tiny Nativity Scene
At the same thrift shop, I also had the good fortune to find a little nativity scene. The set includes tiny one-inch-high figurines of all of the nativity characters, including the three Wisemen, what appears to be one of their camels, and a nice collection of appropriate manger livestock (a donkey, a sheep, and a cow). I had this set in the tiny house, as it was one of the only things I really had space for.
The only problem was that these little figurines didn’t come with a stable. I managed to find a little wooden one that was approximately the correct scale at the same thrift shop.
Each year, I take home a small handful of straw from the farm where I milk cows. I cannot express the pure joy that I feel as I sprinkle the straw on the floor of my little wooden stable and then arrange the tiny nativity scene. The entire nativity set and the manger cost me less than $7.
Even though I live in a larger cabin now, I am sure I will continue to enjoy this small set for many years to come. It may be small piece of holiday decor, but it is a powerful reminder of the “reason for the season.”
Frosty Angel Twinkle Toes
It is amazing how much joy some small holiday treasures can bring. Frosty Angel Twinkle Toes, as I call him, is a stained glass ornament designed to be hung in a window. This particular Frosty has a huge smile, a halo, a stained glass heart on his snow chest, and red stained glass angel wings.
What is truly cute about Frosty are his toes: his legs are made of metal chains with glass beads strung on them. At the bottom of the chains hang Frosty’s red stained glass feet. I found Frosty (yes, you guessed it!) the local thrift shop, hanging on the wall in a plastic bag, for only a few dollars.
Frosty Angel Twinkle Toes (sorry, I just like saying his full name) was about as frugal a piece of holiday decor as one can find.
Each year, as I pull out my small Christmas bag of wrapping materials and ornaments, I am delighted to meet Frosty again. Right now, he is hanging on one of my back windows in the eco-cabin. After a few years with Frosty Angel Twinkle Toes, he now feels like part of my own holiday traditions.
My Beloved Aunt’s Christmas Ornament
With this first Christmas in my eco-cabin, I wondered to myself why I didn’t have any hand-me-downs of ornaments or holiday décor from my family. I think the main reason is my minimalist life, especially up until now. For most of my adult life, I have lived the life of a nomad. I have moved often and owned a minimum of stuff. I have spent a great deal of time traveling, with only a suitcase or a backpack of belongings to my name.
This year, a cousin I am particularly close to mentioned that she was going through her Christmas ornaments, and that she had many that belonged to her mother, my aunt. Would I like any?
I jumped at the chance to have some family treasures that I could enjoy in years to come in my eco-cabin. My cousin put together a small box of ornaments for me. When I opened the box, I knew immediately that this particular ornament had belonged to my Aunt Joyce: it was a beautiful ceramic cardinal. His beautiful wings are spread wide, as if he is about to leap into flight. My Aunt loved cardinals!
Many Christmases, I can remember her giving my mother ornaments and beautiful candles. Many of them had cardinals on them. This little cardinal only measures about 4 inches long. Because he belonged to my Aunt Joyce, he has a big place in my heart.
Holiday Treasures are in the Eye of the Beholder
My new eco-cabin is decorated with thrift shop and hand-me-down treasures that cost from zero to only a few dollars each.
The point here is to share just how easy it can be to decorate your home with the seasons – whether we’re talking about Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, or whatever – on an extreme budget. Even a minimal amount of space doesn’t need to keep you back from decorating your home for the festivities.
Do you have any holiday decor that you found in a thrift shop? Is there a special holiday decoration you own that has been handed down from a loved one? Please tell us in the comments below.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in February 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!