by Katelyn Tinsley, Guest Contributor
Over the last 3 weeks my nonprofit, Homefront Room Revival, has been busy decorating for deployed spouses through our holiday program, Dec’ the Deployment. So far, we have reached 7 different families of deployed service members across 3 different military bases in North Carolina.
Through our outreach efforts we have found that so many military spouses do not decorate for the holidays when their loved one is not there to celebrate the season.
From military spouses not wanting to get their holiday decorations out of the attic alone, to not feeling the energy to decorate for Christmas as they normally would, we have been on a mission to break this cycle and assist those in need.
Because let’s be real…deployments are hard and during the holidays deployments take a lot out of you! Every little bit of positivity someone can give back during that tough time can go a long way.
Our process for these projects has been simple. We take nominations from the community for military spouses in need of a morale boost, we vote on the recipients, and then we customize a dream space to comfort the military spouse over the holidays.
Our team of artisan volunteers get crafty, go thrifting and collect donation items from the community to upcycle back into the projects. I am proud to say that every single volunteer we have had for these holiday projects has been a military spouse or veteran themselves.
Being personally familiar with the cycle of anxiety that comes with deployments, and the feeling of emptiness that happens from being alone for the holidays, we truly feel that simple home decorating can boost spouse morale and make a comfortable home.
Whatever your military story may be, there are simple ways you can add a little holiday cheer to make your military house a home.
Here are a couple of our thrifty pointers and some of our personal tips from the projects we have been doing.
Hang a wreath on your door or add something that is seasonal INTO the wreath that is already on your door. There are tons of different wreaths that can be purchased for the holidays. From live wreaths to fake wreaths or DIY snowmen wreaths (like we made) whatever your budget, you can purchase or make tons of different types of holiday wreaths.
If you do nothing else to the outside of your home, a wreath is an instant update that screams the holidays and is the first thing you see when you unlock your front door.
On a budget, but already have a wreath on your door? You can add something seasonal that is removable into your preexisting wreath.
We did this in one of our holiday projects. A spouse already had a wreath on her door but it wasn’t a Christmas wreath. It was a handmade wreath of old uniforms. We overlapped a handmade stick tree (outside tree sticks repurposed) centered the tree into the wreath, and fasted it to the door. The spouse’s preexisting wreath took on a whole new look with the addition of the custom holiday piece. And by attaching it with some Command hooks, the holiday piece is a removable addition to easily come down as soon as January rolls around.
When your friend moved away at your last base did they hand you down an old artificial Christmas tree? Have you purchased an artificial Christmas tree that has huge gaps in between tree branches? Or, maybe you have misplaced or lost some of those Christmas tree limbs in between moves?
Many artificial trees have gaps – some have huge gaps and need Christmas tree fillers.
The best way to fix the gaps is by doing 2 things. First, thrift for garland that matches the color of the tree and wrap it into the tree wherever there are gaps. This technique does wonders in filling out a Charlie Brown-looking Christmas tree. Once you run out of the garland, add in randomly spaced large fillers. You can add in artificial poinsettias, wreathing craft materials, handmade origami snowflakes, supersized tree ornaments or wood signs.
These larger items are great at covering gaps within the Christmas tree and assist in making it a showstopper holiday tree unique to you.
Nothing says the holidays like a little bit of live garland. Live garland is amazing. It smells awesome, twists in crazy directions, brings the outdoors in, and is a great color pop against a white wall. Although you can buy it in rolls, if you are on a budget you can make your own by asking for the scraps they throw out at tree farms, home improvement stores, and roadside tree markets.
A lot of trees get trimmed down when people purchase them and branches get cut off. By asking for these scraps, you can twist branches together with wreath wire and create your own garland for a lot less. DIY for the win as it’s nearly free.
You can make a Christmas tree look like it’s straight out of a catalog by wrapping it in ribbon, beads, or colorful garland. But have you ever thought of using some old scrap fabric and cutting it in strips as a repurposed tree garland? You can use old patterned towels, pillow covers, tablecloths, sheets, or crafting project scraps to really make a unique garland for your holiday tree.
You simply lay the long strips into the tree and overlap them making it look like one continuous piece that wraps around your Christmas tree. This is a very thrifty way to make a big impact with something you may not even have to buy.
Above all, do you. There is nothing quite like anything custom. Custom pieces, handmade goods and art you love are heirloom items that you likely won’t throw out when you move to your next military base.
So when you go to decorate, decorate with the things you love.
I find too many people try to “theme” rooms or decorate generically. Most people don’t categorize themselves with only liking one thing, so why stick to one thing when you decorate? You can blend styles together and be eclectic when you design your home for the holidays as it will comfort you.
Go through pictures on Pinterest and in magazines to find a couple things you like, and mimic that look in the way you style your home.
If you like colored lights, use them.
If you like the beach, make some salt dough ornaments shaped like starfish and hang them on your tree.
Go thrifting for vintage holiday pieces, buy what you like, and incorporate it into your holiday home. Thrifting is the best and most affordable way to find décor items on a budget.
Most thrift stores are stocked with used holiday decorations for pennies on what you will afford new. Creating a unique holiday space that is something you like to look at, will naturally comfort you and excite you to go home after a long day and relax.
We will be blogging about all of our DIY projects, sharing our pictures, and spouse stories at www.homefrontroomrevival.org. There you can learn more about our unique cause and support our mission to boost spouse morale through decorating. Help us spread the word about the great things that this nonprofit is doing in our military community by sharing their pictures and following us on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
Katelyn Tinsley is a USAF veteran, USAF wife, and busy mom of 3 stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. She has an MBA in Project Management and a skill for anything interior design and architecture. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Homefront Room Revival and a passionate advocate against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. During her free time you can usually spot her on the beach soaking up the sun and breathing in the salt air with her husband and 3 children.