A Hand-Me-Down and Homemade Christmas

My childhood memories of Christmas revolve around the decorations. Our family had many traditions and fun activities we did, but they all take place in my mind against the backdrop of the decorations and ornaments we would pull out every year after Thanksgiving. My mom made our house magical and beautiful at Christmas.

Corduroy is new (a grandparent gift to Pipsqueak), but that’s my old mouse that winds up and plays “Silent Night.”

I know it’s not necessary, but I love using decorations to mark this time of year as something special. I don’t want to make too much of it—after all, it’s the event that we celebrate, not the decorations, that make it special. But nonetheless, they have their place and I love how Peanut is already starting to remember particular ornaments, books, and toys, and take note of the changing seasons and holidays.

This year, (like most of my adult life) I decided to decorate with hand-me-down and homemade decorations. Almost every Christmas item I have was given to me, either as a gift or as a cast off when a relative no longer wanted it. Everything holds a memory or reminds me of a generous loved one. A few items I bought long ago but they’ve been sitting around my house for so long that I can’t justify keeping them unless I use them.

Branches, hand-me-down ornaments, and birds made from leftover felt I had around.

I was pleased with most of my decorating options until I looked at my sad couch with yellow gingham pillows that looked decidedly NOT Christmasy. I needed something festive!

I suddenly remembered some old sweaters that I’d tucked away in a scrap fabric bin and decided to make them into fun Christmas pillows. (I’ve been feeling guilty about my craft stash, so I was excited to come up with a project to pare it down a bit.) One was a 15-year-old favorite; it had a long, well-loved life as a clothing item, but it was out of style and getting rather threadbare. I just couldn’t bear to let it go completely, though, and have been trying to figure out something to make with it. Keeping it company was the long cardigan I bought in college that just never looked right (my roommate looked great in it, but I just couldn’t quite pull it off, y’know what I mean?).

Sweaters into Christmas pillows! @snapdragonofthefield.com

I cut up the sweaters, cut up some old denim my grandma had given me, pulled out a bag of stuffing to fatten a few pillows and went to work. I gave myself a weekend; I did as much as I could by Sunday night, and decided that whatever didn’t get done was fine and I’d be happy with that. But I got it all used! There’s something to be said for a deadline…

(Since this isn’t a “how-to” tutorial, I won’t go into details about how I made these. Besides, the sweaters in the bottom of your closet are different, so this wouldn’t work for everything. I will just say that I did most of this on a sewing machine (I found that a straight stretch stitch worked best on the sweater fabric), some I did by hand, and none of it is the way it should be done if you’re trying to do things the “right” way. But, that’s okay. They’re good enough. They make me happy. And they are done.)

While I was digging out the sweaters, I noticed a pile of old blue jeans I’d been saving. I didn’t have a clear purpose for the jeans already in mind so I decided to make them into a tree skirt. I’d been wanting to try out my denim needle on my sewing machine and figured the sewing machine was already out anyway! Besides, the denim looks cute with the colors of the room and the blue on the new pillows.

This was the fastest I’ve ever done anything. I didn’t want to have to move these, so it was a race to sew them together before curious little fingers strew them around the room.


This isn’t a great picture of it, but you get the idea.

That’s all for now (and may be all the decorating I get around to this year). No matter how much or how little, I still like giving my children memories of a special, exciting time of our year.

As for me, I’m so pleased to look around and enjoy my reused decorations—remembering with gratitude all my blessings, special memories, and the beautiful people in my life.

Hand-me-downs and sweater pillows @snapdragonofthefield.com
The tree was a hand-me-down from my grandma, decorated with ornaments that have been given to us over the years, and a twine and scrap fabric garland.
Sweater pillows @snapdragonofthefield.com
My one “non-found” item here is the blanket scarf I got at the Target dollar spot and threw on the back of the couch. It might look better without it, but oh well. It’s festive.
And this is how it looked 10 minutes later.

3 thoughts on “A Hand-Me-Down and Homemade Christmas

  1. Love your creations, Bethany!
    Do I see one of your Dad’s handmade ornaments hanging above your new tree skirt? I still have the one he made for me years ago when I worked in his office. It’s up on our tree right now. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Amy! Yes, that’s a “Dad” ornament. 🙂 We have quite a few of those, including a miniature mountain dulcimer (very fitting for him!) in addition to several of those calligraphy ones.

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