Christmas in the Office

My office decided to have a cubicle decorating contest this year. I had a great time planning what I was going to do and what ornaments I wanted on my little tree. I won the competition. Partly because I am so darn creative and told everyone how I made everything, and partly because only one other person decorated with more than a wreath.

The first bits go up.

The first bits go up.

The beginning of my inspiration was a banner on Pinterest. It doesn’t look like the HGTV link from there works any longer, but I only needed the inspiration. I have a shelf on my outside wall, so I thought it could stand in for a mantlepiece. D— is a much better draw-er than I am, so I asked him to take a length of the roofing felt that we had leftover from doing the entry hall and draw a fireplace on it for me. He found a pastel crayon that didn’t flake and had this for me in about 30 minutes.

My unifying theme was natural colors and burlap. I took down all the awards I have been given over the past 5+ years and put up a bunch of empty picture frames wrapped in last year’s paper.

wrapped frames

wrapped frames

I wish I had more of this paper. I really like it. Ah well. Maybe something better will come along next year. I used a strip of burlap as a ribbon on one package to carry the theme through.

Here’s a tip for cutting burlap. It can get pretty wonky when you position it, so on one of the selvages, cut a thread near the edge. Then pull that thread out across the width of the fabric. Because the weave on burlap is so loose, it should pull right out as soon as you cut the other end. Now you should see a nice straight gap in the weave that you can follow with your scissors.

I also wrapped my overhead bin in burlap and hung some homemade stars from it. More on that in a bit.IMG_1790

And not to leave off the fourth wall, I wrapped a styrofoam wreath in burlap and dressed it up with a little silverish branching and a cream colored satin ribbon.IMG_1806

The burlap on this is secured with hot glue, but you could do it with pins if that’s all you have. Just make sure the pins catch enough of the fabric to hold it down. I learned how to make bows when I worked in a craft store almost 28 years ago. Sort of like riding a bicycle. And I’m not sure what project the branches were leftover from, but they were just perfect. More hot glue to secure everything and that part of the project was done in about an hour.

The pièce de résistance was my little tree. We have building code restrictions that do not allow us to have anything sticking up above the top of our walls – except for the philodendrons that the company has contracted for. Ah, office plants! So I went to Target and got a great little 2 foot tree. We aren’t allowed to have lights either, but that was okay with me because I wasn’t sure I wanted them to distract anyway.

my two foot tree

my two foot tree

There are 6 different kids of ornaments on here. Three of them are styrofoam balls wrapped in burlap, linen and decoupaged with brown shopping bags.

HERE’S HOW to wrap balls in fabric. Cut thin strips of fabric that are long enough to wrap around the ball once with a small overlap. I cut mine a half inch wide and that was just about perfect for a 1 1/2 inch ball. Secure it at one end with hot glue. Wrap half way and secure the middle with more glue, then finish and secure the end with more glue. Keep going until you don’t see any foam showing. I made loops from pearle cotton and secured them with pearl headpins. On the burlap wrapped balls, I made the hanging loops from twine.

The small pine cones are nothing more than a twine hanging loop secured with a bead and a bit of hot glue.

The decoupaged balls are made roughly the same way as the fabric wrapped ones except that instead of using hot glue, each strip was soaked in wheat paste.

If you don’t have wheat paste – I had some from a bookbinding project several years ago – you could just use regular glue that you watered down a little bit. The nice thing about wheat paste is that it is a powder, so it lasts for a really long time. When you have wrapped your foam balls, set them on a piece of waxed paper to dry overnight. Then secure a pearle cotton loop with a decorative headpin.

The fanciest and most time consuming part of all my decorations are the folded stars. And no, I’m not going to show you how to make them. I will, however, show where you can get the instructions. Once you learn how to make them, you can do all sorts of things with them. I am all about supporting the independent crafter, so I wouldn’t dream of taking income away from her.  Paper Star Tutorial.

I first saw these stars on a tree at the Vanderbilt mansion in Hyde Park, NY. They had a large tree covered with these made from sheet music. Once I finally found and bought the directions, I made them out of fancy papers, sheet music, and for this year’s tree, newsprint drawing paper and an old book on teaching yourself English literature that I found at Goodwill. The small stars on the tree are 1 1/2 inches. The big ones on my overhead bin are 4 inches and the tree topper is two 3 inch stars back-to-back and glued onto a paper cone made from more of the book.IMG_1793

The tree skirt is made from a lined piece of burlap. I didn’t want the edges of this to unravel, so traced around one of my big metal mixing bowls and a piece of white muslin at the same time. Another trace with a small bowl in the center and a line from the center to the outer edge. Then I stitched a half inch from the edges and a quarter inch from the lines, cut along the lines and turned the whole thing right side out. Oh yeah, you need to leave a gap along one of the straight edges so you have somewhere to turn it. Then ironing, a little top stitching, and some heavy duty stick on Velcro to hold the edges together. TA DA!

finished cube

finished cube

Oh I forgot about the stocking. I just searched online to find an easy pattern, and this one with a cuff was just the thing. The burlap was a little uncooperative, so I have a wrinkle/gather that I wish just weren’t there. But it was a hit. It’s hanging loop is made from braided twine.

Soon it will all get rolled up and put into a box for next year. Chances are we won’t have another decorating contest, and I’ll just bring it back out for next year.

Hopefully some of you will find this inspiring to decorate your own office space or home. You can be festive without sticking with the traditional colors.

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