Easy DIY Winter Swags from Tree Leftovers (and Mr. D&D’s Creche)

I don’t know if we’re ever actually “done” decorating for the holidays…we love playing with lights, I guess.

This Sunday, Mr. and I had some fun “finishing up” the outdoor decorations. I get the lights up early…but I don’t finish until the first week in December.

Why?  I’m waiting for the (nearly) free Christmas decorations.

You know those lovely fresh pine swags that are $20 -$50 dollars at the tree stores?  You can make your own…for free (plus whatever supplies you have on hand)…in about four minutes!

I usually visit the tree cutting station at one of the big box stores on a weekend or Monday and ask if I can take some of the trimmed-off branch cuttings.diy-pine-swagThe clerks are usually very happy to get rid of them…especially if you’re neat and tidy about what you take (i.e., DON’T LEAVE THEM A MESS).

I never know how I’ll use them until I get them home; I try to mix things up a little.  But this year I filled a few planters and window boxes and added white lights,

made a swag for the front door, diy-door-swag-with-skatesmade lighted swags for my upstairs windows, diy-window-swag

and had enough leftovers for Mr. D&D’s creche project.


It took me less than four minutes to make each window swag.  Just select larger branches for your foundation, diy-pine-swagwrap with paddle wire (layering more branches until you have the desired fullness),diy-pine-decorationsdecorate and DONE!  I kept mine fairly simple, using only a store-bought pick and a bow at the center. Since they’ll be on second story windows, a lot of smaller details like pinecones, etc, won’t show up from the street…so I skip ’em.  If these were inside and viewed up close, I would be fussier about the construction and add more detail. (Still, they’d probably take six minutes to make instead of four.)

It actually takes longer to hang them than to make them.

It’s “two for the price of one day”…I want to show you Mr. D&D’s Christmas Creche.

We purchased the outdoor manger figures for our anniversary gift this year.  I wish I had taken pictures along the way but it was windy and snowing when he put it together…NOT my kind of weather.  I watched from inside 🙂

He used the leftover pallets from our two-tier garden wall project.  But I was impressed with the simple genius he used to assemble it.  He hung the pallets over tree stake/poles and used zip-ties to hold the corners together. There’s five pallets in all for the basic structure.

It looked great just the way it was, but we saved some branches from our late birch tree, so this weekend he gave the scene a woodland treatment by trimming it with birch and pine.

Here it is by day…



And by night…



I’m looking forward to seeing it with a fresh snowfall.

(Update 12/15:) 

To borrow one of Mr.’s favorite sayings: “Pretty handy for a bean counter.” 🙂