The easiest DIY holiday decor ever

Scott and I hosted our daughter’s christening this weekend. The Sunday after Thanksgiving meant that I wanted to keep things simple—very simple. We created Evite invites and bought the food at Costco so I wanted to keep the décor easy and inexpensive.


I used a gold tablecloth I already owned, layered paper doilies down the center to serve as a DIY runner, and filled Mason jars with baby’s breath. But the table needed something more.


While shopping the baking aisle at the grocery store, I came up with another idea. Float balloons above the dining table and cover them with cupcake liners! I bought white balloons at Target, used spray adhesive, and working in small sections, glued the cupcake liners to the balloon (I used 75 or one package per balloon). Then I attached some white string and hung them from the ceiling with clear thumbtacks.

What’s the simplest, easiest, and cheapest décor you’ve ever come up with?

A wishing tree for a baby shower

I cohosted my best friend Kim’s baby shower a couple of weekends ago. It was my first big-gish project since I had Genevieve, and I had so much fun coming up with the woodland themed baby shower and the décor that would accompany it.

For my baby shower in July, Kim had attendees write a note, advice, or a memory for Baby G in the book Guess How Much I Love You.


I loved it. Some people’s words brought tears to my eyes, others made me laugh out loud. I wanted to do something similar for Kim, Zach, and Baby Wyatt.

I came up with the idea of a Wishing Tree, a place where people might hang words of advice for the parents-to-be or write something they wished for Baby Wyatt.


I found the twigs and sticks in my front yard in Dallas and transported them to Arizona in my suitcase because they were absolutely perfect, and I worried that I wouldn’t find anything similar in the land of cacti. I clustered the twigs in a faux bois vase I made. I shared the easy how-to instructions on my Pretty Handy Projects blog on Then I created leaves from pieces of fabric (a vintage plaid I purchased on ebay), just free-formed the shape. I wanted the leaves to be rigid but moldable rather than floppy pieces of fabric. So I used this.


And just liberally sprayed the fabric leaves, then let them dry completely.


Once dry, I was able to mold them into three-dimensional leaf shapes.

Have you ever used Stiffen Quik?

Creative ideas for your holiday table

Back in mid July, I was asked by friend and writer Sarah Stebbins to pitch a few imaginative creations for a story for Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. She wanted thoughts for a Thanksgiving table–including kid-friendly options–things like centerpieces and simple projects. The idea was that it had to be quick, something you could do in less than 30 minutes and be proud to put on the table.
Rachael Ray November issue
Well, the November 2013 issue is on newsstands now, and I am thrilled to announce that Wendy James Designs is part of this story. It is an incredible honor to be featured with event designers like David Stark (his apple idea, below, is so simple and fun), TV personalities like Clinton Kelly (I am more than a little obsessed with his jewel-tone gourds) and my favorite environmental lifestyle expert, Danny Seo, who creatively repurposed a thrift-store find. Man after my own heart.
Rachael Ray page
My easy decor gets a thumbs-up from the kids’ table. Add googly eyes and a paper beak to inexpensive striped kids’ gloves, fatten (er, fill) with candy and tie with a ribbon (pictured in the bottom left corner of this page).
My Rachael Ray page

Pick up the November issue to sift through 15 fun ideas or keep reading and try one of mine that didn’t make the magazine, like these DIY polka-dot napkins, inspired by the ones pictured below from Anthropologie. (Dotted napkin photo courtesy of

Polka-dot napkins

1. Wash and iron cotton/polyester blend napkins. Don’t use fabric softener.

2. Put a piece of cardboard under the napkin to protect your work surface.

3. Dip a flat unused pencil eraser into gold fabric paint, dab on a clean paper towel once or twice and then onto your napkin.

4. Repeat this process, dotting away in whatever pattern you like.

I opt for plain white dinnerware because I tell myself that whatever I cook–no matter how messy or unattractive–looks better when served on white. But for dinner parties and holidays, sometimes I dress it up. For Thanksgiving, try tucking one large autumn leaf or a collage of a few smaller fall leaves between your a white dinner plate and a clear one.

Leaf platesMake your own tiered trays and serving pieces. I did something similar with a dinner plate and candlesticks to give a client more room to merchandise makeup compacts, but you could easily do this with rustic tree slabs, inexpensive candlesticks and epoxy that’s suitable for wood and glass.

Tiered traysTell me: How are you decorating your holiday table?





Pretty simple centerpieces

I didn’t want there to be anything complicated about the table settings for our wedding. I envisioned rustic elegance with pure simplicity and a touch of the unexpected.

Remember the mood board I created for the wedding here?

I love the look of burlap but wanted a bit more color on the table. I found a gorgeous dark turquoise embroidery floss and enlisted my mom to help stitch peacock blue seams down either side of each runner. Note: This was an incredibly time-consuming process because we hand stitched them, but the result was fabulous!

We then used the leftover burlap to fashion napkin rings for my off-white linens (we bought these because it ended up being cheaper than renting them). To tie in the peacock blue, we wrapped each of the burlap rings several times (I’m talking like 10-15), then just adhered it with a dot of hot glue.

I wanted my centerpieces to be a mix of texture, colors and heights and include something vintage. I painted these seven-inch wooden boxes the same peacock blue I used on my map project and handed them over to my very talented friend and florist Sally Preston-Gonzalez of Exquisite Blooms to work her magic.

I found the blue glasses at TJMaxx and Marshalls one shopping trip, then enlisted family and friends around the country to hunt down as many as possible. I wanted to use them on the tables as votives. To add a few more candle holders to the table, I purchased a variety of glass containers at thrift stores, then purchased cylindrical vases in 3.5″x6″ and 4.5″x4.5″ sizes and spray painted the insides of each a metallic bronze. I peppered the table tops with small twine balls to introduce a natural element. Alarm clocks (purchased on ebay) set to various numbers told guests which table belonged to them. Time to eat.

© Copyright Wendy James Designs - Website by Newton Designs and powered by Wordpress