Amy’s Free Ideas

Seasons > Christmas > Decorations for the Church

Banners are a good way to decorate a church for Christmas. Walls and  spaces are so much bigger in a church than a house, that it can be hard to find decorations big enough. Banners are not very difficult to make if you cut the design elements out of felt and glue (rather than sew) them to a background. You can design your own, of course, but there are books of designs, so all you have to do is enlarge the on a copier to use as patterns.

Advent wreaths are typical Christmas decorations for a church or home. This one is a little unusual in that it is not a wreath, but a rectangle so the candles are in a row. To replicate this, get a shallow tray, such as a planter bottom, and fill it with oasis (a foam florists use for arranging flowers. Many hundred yen stores sell this.) Be sure to soak all the blocks in water for at least 30 minutes, or the middle will be dry. Poke candles into the oasis, then poke the greenery into the oasis. Decorate with pine cones and berries, if you wish. Keep it watered, since it needs to last for 4 weeks.

Light one candle on the first Sunday of advent, light 2 on the second sunday, and 3 on the third Sunday, and 4 on the fourth Sunday. This means that the first two candles can get too short before that fourth Sunday. There are several things you can do. 1. Buy really tall candles. 2. Freeze the candles before you light them--they are supposed to burn longer if you freeze them. 3. If the candles are still getting dangerously short, The third Sunday or fourth Sunday, don’t use that first candle--put the second week’s candle in it’s place, and add a new candle at the other end.

Pine cone wreaths are occasionally sold at hundred yen stores. If someone in the church is good at handcrafts, this is a very inexpensive Christmas decoration. I bought styrofoam wreaths at a dollar store, and glued pine cones to them--the pine cones were free, since I picked them up myself. If you use a glue gun, it only takes about an hour to make each one because the glue hardens in just a few seconds. (craft stores sell glue guns, but hundred yen stores sell them cheaper.) If you don’t like the wreaths so plain, you can use different kinds of pine cones, spray paint them gold, or add greenery and artificial berries, sold at hundred yen stores. The cheapest greenery is a hundred yen store Christmas tree--just cut off the branches with wire cutters from the hundred yen store. A cardboard base is a free alternative to a styrofoam base. Just use heavy cardboard, and glue two rings together to make it stronger for holding the weight of all those pine cones. Florist’s wire could also be used to fasten the pine cones to a base. It is probably sturdier, but does take a bit more to make than glueing the pine cones on.

On the sanctuary side of the doors are wreaths made of ribbon. The bases are made of cardboard covered in fabric so that the cardboard doesn’t show. The cardboard is only one layer thick since these are so light weight. There are 6 bows  per wreath, alternating white and green with gold. Each bow is made up of a bottom bow made of wide ribbon and a top bow made of narrow ribbon.  Each bow is fastened in the middle with florist’s wire (sold at hundred yen stores) and glued to the base with a glue gun. They are embellished with gold berries. By changing the colors of ribbons and kinds of embellishments, many different kinds of wreaths could be made using this method.

These angels were made from plastic sheets (sold at hundred yen stores) that were rolled into cones to form the dresses. Wire from the hundred yen store was used to form the arms. Styrofoam balls (from hundred yen stores) were covered with fabric so they would not melt when spray painted gold. The clothing was made from dipping fabric into glue diluted with water, and draped on the body and arm wires. After drying, they were sprayed gold.

As you can see from this photo, even from a short distance, the decorations are small and hard to see. Any decorations smaller than this would not be worth using, since you would have to be right next to it to see it, if you happened to notice at all. (The angels are about 60 cm. tall, and the candles are about 35 cm. tall.)  Size matters.

When buying or making decorations, try to coordinate the colors to make the decorations in one room cohesive. The decorations in this room are green, gold and white. They all look like they go together.

Make sure you buy enough of each item. There are 6 windows in this sanctuary, so there are 3 candles and 2 trees at the base of each one for a total of 18 candles and 18 candle stands, and 12 trees. If they were all different colors, or each window had a different decoration, it would look like a hodgepodge, and would not be attractive.

When you get out the decorations year after year, take the time to fluff out the greenery and reshape the bows. It gets smashed into boxes all year long, and if you just take them out of the box and stick them up as is, they look awful!! It would be better not to decorate at all, than to decorate with bad looking decorations. If there is anything that is broken or doesn’t look good anymore (even after a little rearranging,) then throw it away. The decorations need to be attractive, if you want new people to feel like the church is a nice place to come.

These candles and greenery swags are at the base of all six windows in the sanctuary. The greenery is made from two Christmas trees turned sideways, with their bases removed and fastened together with florist’s wire. The bows need to be large, so they are made with 5 meters of ribbon. Seiyu department stores sell a wide variety of inexpensive ribbon at Christmas time.  Everything except the ribbons were bought at hundred yen stores. These swags (minus the candles, of course) make nice decorations on the outside of windows, too.

Let’s spruce up the bathrooms, too. This one is decorated in pink and white and brown. The towel (from a hundred yen store) has a strip of pretty cloth and lace sewn on for a decoration. The candle stand and pink candles are also from a hundred yen store. The  wreath (from a hundred yen store, of course) has been decorated with branches cut from a white hundred yen store tree, and instead of a bow, a pink hundred yen store poinsettia.

The bathroom is a small space, so there is not much room for decorations. A hanging tree solves this problem. The white Christmas tree has it’s base removed, and a small basket hides the ugly end. Pink bows, and artificial berries decorate the tree to coordinate the the whole room with the same colors. The tree has the branches in the back bent forward so it will hang against the wall. (All items are from hundred yen stores)

Each stall has it’s own small wreath hanging on the door. The wreath was sold with decorations on it that did not fit the decor of the bathroom, so they were removed. The  white tree branches, artificial berries, and  pink ribbons that decorate the wreaths are the same as the ones that decorate the tree on the opposite wall. They are all fastened on with florist’s wire. (Everything is from hundred yen stores.)

You may not believe this, but these wooden crosses that say, “Jesus Loves” on them were purchased at a hundred yen store in the gardening section. I added the “you” since it is important to point out that Jesus loves each person in the world, not just some nebulous “love.” The crosses hang in the toilet stalls for year round decorations and act as a good reminder that Jesus love us.

These are decorations that not everyone will want to imitate, but it’s hard to get any cheaper. The paper silhouettes on the left depict the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.

Seasons > Christmas > Decorations for the Church

These Christmas trees are paper cones that are resting on dowels that are anchored in in painted metal buckets. They are decorated with ribbons and beads.

These figures, depicting the wisemen following the star, are photocopied from a book, colored, then glued to cardboard that has been folded so it will stand up.

This is an inexpensive way to make a nativity set that doesn’t take up much storage space. A larger set could be made of wood to decorate outside of the church.

These cute felt banners are not too hard to make. Use coloring book pictures for patterns. Cut the felt and glue onto the background. Hang from dowels.

Red and green colors and a Christmas tree have been used to make it look Christmasy. But the true meaning of Christmas is symbolized with the cross and a heart.

The birthday cake and presents symbolize the birth of Jesus, the reason for celebrating Christmas. All materials, including the dowels, were purchased at hundred yen stores.