By Noor-Jehan Yoro Badat

Johannesburg - Decorating your home and table this Christmas need not break the bank. In fact, making your own decorations is a strong trend, says Stefan Norval of Afresh, an event and design company in Parkhurst.

“People are returning to the simpler ways… They find there’s more soul to it. And it’s more personalised and fulfilling to make something,” says Norval.

There is also great interest in recycling and upcycling – people are using glass more, with arts and crafts making a strong comeback. “It’s very popular in decor to use paper and books. Origami is massive. It’s like the 80s are back,” Norval says.

Families are scaling down on Christmas decor because festive items have become have increasingly expensive, says Claire Minnaar, who runs a web agency in Cape Town with her husband Ryan.

“We still want out homes to look beautiful and have that Christmas feel, but we don’t necessarily want to go to spend a fortune on it. So, DIY is getting more and more popular by the day, not only in the home, but in other areas of people’s lives such as weddings.”

Kerry Wustrow, a sales assistant at In Good Company, suppliers of themed parties and events in Parkhurst, says that people who go away for Christmas also don’t see the point in spending a great deal on Christmas decor.

Kustrow has observed visitors to the store this year have tended to buy items to deck the table, rather than spending on “big décor things or big trees”.

“It’s more the table stuff that they go for such as our table confetti, the toppers and our popular Christmas tree cake stand.

“And people have given us positive feedback that the things we have are affordable, different and quite unique.”

The store has a great line in paper Christmas trees and ornaments that suit more contemporary homes and don’t take up much space or cause mess.

Remember, Christmas is about the family and less about things, says Minnaar.

“We need to remember what Christmas is about. So, do what you’ll enjoy, what is important to you and what your kids will remember in years to come and will possibly continue doing with their families

“That is what’s important. It’s not how much you spend, but the memories of you create during this very special time.”

Ideas for setting the festive table

Instead of buying tons of expensive Christmas decorations, you can create a unique and memorable table for Christmas lunch or dinner by using a little ingenuity.

Karen Short, founder of By Word of Mouth, an award-winning catering firm, says touches of vintage style add a sense of history, charm and visual appeal.

Try decorating vases with floating candles wrapped in vintage lace.

Dessert roses wrapped in dodder (also called love vine) can be placed into ceramic vases, which can contrast beautifully if you use glass, crystal and silver on the table. Experiment with ceramic and canvas flowers to finish the centrepiece.

Use Gypsophila flowers to make vintage Christmas bobbles.

Handmade crackers filled with Christmas trinkets can be made out of patterned paper and tied with twine.

Complete the table with mince pies and brandy butter that can be placed at each setting for guests to enjoy on arrival.

For more information, visit www.bywordofmouth.co.za

Go online for inspiration

For fresh ideas on decorating your home this Christmas, think outside the box and do online searches, says Claire Minnaar.

For inspiration, visit her blog www.momtrepreneur.co.za. DIY ideas can also be found at www.marthastewart.com.

Here are some of Claire’s suggestions:

* Pine cones can be found in a park or forest near you. Sprinkle them with glitter or spray paint them, place them in a glass bowl and add ribbon around the bowl to use as a table centrepiece, above the fireplace or as a decoration somewhere in the house.

* Ribbons are cheap and extremely versatile. Buy two or three different colours (red, green and gold will work well), twist them together and hang them around the door, around mirrors, or over the fireplace.

* Go to a sweet shop to buy packets of marshmallows (white), candy canes, and colourful straws, then get creative .

* Any glass bowls or vases can be used for your décor. Fill them with flowers, fruits, candles, plants, candies or chocolates.

* If you have any old tins lying around, make some holes in them in the shape of a heart, a Christmas tree or something fun. Place a small candle inside and hang somewhere suitable in your home or patio.

* With a blob of glue and a spot of ingenuity, sheets of old sheet music, newspaper and gift wrap can become stunning chains and festive bunting, while old records, doilies and picture frames make the perfect place mats.

* Transform empty wine bottles into stylish candelabra, use mismatched teacups as cute little planter pots and dig out the old Scrabble set to spell out each guest's name at their designated seat.

* Centrepieces can be more than decorative. Fill jars with decadent Christmas candy and jugs with fruity iced tea. Or combine the traditional holly and Christmas flowers with summer fruits such as pomegranates, lemons and strawberries for a focal piece with a fresh twist. - The Star