We were at the pool this summer, and while we loafed around in the sun, Heidi turned to me and said “I want to wake up on Christmas in my own bed.” And, after moving from Texas to Germany last Christmas, I knew exactly why she felt that way. After traveling through four countries worth of Christmas celebrations last year, I couldn’t have agreed with her faster.
We have an amazing home with our own beds, to be sure, but not the kind of estate or roots that make for a traditional Christmas. I still have very little desire to buy things here, especially when I consider that I would then need to own, store and move said things later.
It’s so easy here, though, to find inspiration to make beautiful things from nature, re-purposed materials and a smattering of my favorite craft supplies.
I brought just enough sacred items over – pictures with Santa, a few ornaments from home, our Christmas season mugs and one of our DIY Putz houses. It all came together to feel like a pretty, fresh start for the same great family – just now in the forest!
This little handmade holiday was my favorite yet! It was easy, fun and inexpensive to put together for our Christmas at the little Black Forest Flat. The crafts were fun for all ages, and we would take some time in the weeks leading up to the big day to make something to add to the festivities. We’re all amazed by how full and fun the flat looked by Christmas morning!
Handmade Christmas Decorations
After this year’s tree, I’m inspired to have one tree a year in the home that’s filled with handmade ornaments over the season. I loved starting it off with a craft jam to welcome the tree home, making the basics of paper chains out of these pre-cut strips and some chunky stars I cut out with stiff felt. It’s so easy to put on a Christmas movie and work on paper chains!
The kids do great origami at school, which inspired our first round of ornaments. I love these bigger shapes we did at a workshop at the craft space down the street. It ended up being so nice to have origami paper around the flat so we could try different designs by pulling up instructions on the monitor. Heidi was also inspired to do some beading and taping as well which added some fun surprises to the craft tree.
Things just got crazier and more fun by the end, down to painting and cutting these toilet paper rolls for some last minute additions on Christmas Eve.
I loved the velvet ribbon we knotted to the ends of the branches, classic German Christmas tree candles (battery operated with a remote in this case) and pom-poms glued right on the tree that provided a pretty base for the next round of ornament ideas.
Such a cute little tree! I love this for a cabin rental or the game room at home.
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Handmade Christmas Table Decorations
With a birthday in the group, we make a big deal of breakfast as a family on Christmas morning. Sitting down together feels like the moment after Santa and before an afternoon of fun where we can really take in appreciation for how special it is to be able to have a day just for abundance and time together.
I don’t have my box of Christmas china and embroidered napkins here but that homesickness for how special our table at home could feel on Christmas morning only inspired me to find some easy ways to make it nice.
These placemats were so easy to cut out of stuff felt sheets with a pattern I made from a shipping box and dolled up a bit with my favorite paint pens. It dressed up the every day silverware and napkins so well. It’s not Christmas breakfast without party crackers on the table!
The sun doesn’t fully rise until 9:30 a.m. or so here, so these tea light luminaries I made from repurposed glass jars Heidi and I covered with tissue paper squares using Modge Podge and a paint brush, added color to the table and gave us soft, pretty light that was safely contained as we passed the pancakes.
Once we were stuffed and full on time together, we turned the table over to a (very) casual snack station as we opened the door the rest of the day to fellow expats and family.
My buttercream icing was a huge hit – there’s nothing sweet like that here! Photos of the cut out cookies remind me of an entire year of trying to get things out of our convection oven just right.
I glued some pom-poms to the ends of sticks we found on a nature walk and added them to extra jars for an easy centerpiece down the middle.
Simple, pretty and fun is my favorite type of Christmas! Just add mistletoe. 🙂