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I can barely believe it but the holidays are nearly upon us! Well I guess if you’re a retailer (or House & Home magazine, for that matter) it’s been ‘the holidays’ since Halloween, but for most of us things are really starting to gear up now. 

As a style-conscious person, I always feel a certain expectation to have impeccably wrapped Christmas presents and stylish, unexpected stationery for my holiday cards. I’m sure you feel similar angst over some aspect of this holiday season and the need to impress. Well, this year I’m going to relax! Let’s take a minute here people, count to ten, breathe — whatever — and keep it simple. Less is more, as they say.

For me, this means skipping the fancy stationer’s shop this season and heading over to Walmart. This store may be a grocery store/clothing depot/electronics emporium/mechanic’s garage — but it is ALSO a great source for holiday craft supplies! On a recent trip to Walmart, I found all I’ll need to make my holiday gifts beautiful, unique and simple.

Photo: gifts wrapped in craft paper white tree

The idea started with brown craft paper — the kind I imagine packages arrive in from the North Pole. This year I’ll be wrapping exclusively in this humble, understated paper. Next, as a ribbon alternative, why not try out yarn? It’s so cosy and homespun-feeling and you can get a LOT for your money! I bought three bundles: icy blue, fuzzy moss green, and candy striped red and white. Each bundle was only $1! Walmart also has some great vintage-inspired labels to stick on your presents, or add old-fashioned tags like the ones above. For an easy DIY option, print out our Gift Wrapping Tag Template. The whole look is understated and so pretty. Yes, that is my crazy “Candy Land” tree next to the gifts I shot at my place last night.

Photo: gifts with no wrapping paper - printed boxes

Walmart also has these lovely printed boxes that let you skip the wrapping paper altogether! These charming graphic printed boxes come in a set of 10 for $5! Simply place your gift inside, add some yarn and you’re done. Or you can make a little fuzzy yarn pom-pom like I did to embellish the top. Notice how I went crazy with the yarn to bind these two boxes together. I like the haphazard look of yarn wound around the boxes a bunch of times and topped with a pom-pom.

Photo: tea cups, tea pot, cookies on tray and berries

This next one’s a two-for-one. I love to bake holiday cookies to give as gifts. But I find the tins meant for this purpose are huge! I’d be baking forever if I had to fill those tins! Instead, I prefer smaller, more gourmet-sized tins of scrumptious delicacies. Fortunately, Walmart helped me out again. These small tins are the perfect size and colour and cost only $3. I filled this one up with Grandma Austin’s famous shortbread cookies (baked recently at 10:00 at night after a photo shoot!). They’re so delectable; I’m including the recipe below. To make them extra special, the Austins always add a tiny piped star of butter cream icing tinted minty green. And lining your Walmart tin with a sliver of parchment paper doesn’t hurt either.

Photo: homemade Christmas cards

Photo: homemade Christmas cards

Finally for those holiday cards, Walmart and I have got you covered. You can pick up a package of these blank ecru cards and matching envelopes for a song ($7), then grab a $1 cookie cutter and a couple colours of craft paint. Squirt some paint into a pie plate, dip the fatter side of the cookie cutter in the paint, then stamp a darling tree silhouette onto your card. Next, squirt a different colour of paint into a pie plate and use the eraser end of a pencil to dab and make snow flurries on your card. The effect is so simple and graphic and I love it! You could also use a felt-tip pen to handwrite a message across the bottom of the card — like, “Happy Holidays” or “Oh Christmas Tree” or whatever.

Photo: Christmas supplies

This was my Christmas haul from Walmart and it represents everything you’ll need to complete the projects above. Everything is super affordable, and super easy, so why not relax this year and make a pit stop at Walmart?

The creativity doesn’t stop at gift wrapping — learn how to make your own ornaments in our Online TV show on DIY Holiday Sconces & Ornaments.

Oh, and make these cookies!

Grandma Austin’s Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar

Beat butter until light. Sift flour, cornstarch and icing sugar into butter and mix well. Flour hands and roll into small balls. Place balls on ungreased baking sheet and flatten with fork. Bake 20-25 minutes at 300°F.

Photo credits:
Michael Penney

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