Cat-proof cheap Christmas decorations
November 6, 2017 11:17 AM   Subscribe

In need of cheap, cat-proof, Christmas decoration ideas.

I have some friends with two kids (boy age 8 and girl age 6) who will be housesitting for me while I am away visiting my own family over the Christmas holiday. They are doing me a huge favor because I have a cat at home who needs hands-on care (medication and monitoring). They are traveling from my home state to Brooklyn where I live to have a family Christmas trip which otherwise wouldn't be possible without having my place to stay for free. So it's a big win-win.

Since I always travel out of town for the holidays, I have zero Christmas decorations in my home, but I'd like to have something resembling a tree and some other fun festive things so the kids aren't missing out.

But my cat likes to play with leafy/spiny/plant-y things and swallow ribbon/tinsel type things. Basically anything she can fit in her mouth she will try to. So anything that involves pine trees or boughs, fake or real, or dangerous dangly things like those cheap ornaments that break so easily, are off limits. No poinsettias of course (poisonous to cats).

I have a small (maybe 2'h x 2'w x 1'd) unusable cleaned out fireplace which is part of a wider portion of exposed brick wall, and I was thinking about hanging up something in the shape/style of a Christmas tree there and then maybe putting something into the hearth itself? No idea. I'm not crafty or creative at all, but I have a friend who is who is willing to help with actual construction, but I'd love some ideas to start.

My tastes tend to skew more minimal/understated instead of 'Santa threw up in the Walmart', and I don't want anything religious or really anything Santa/reindeer/elf-y because I'm not sure what traditions they celebrate. So basic, but pretty and festive. Of course I'll incorporate string lights somehow and put out some holiday candies.

Also, I would like to spend no more than $50 on everything total, so ideas with a lot of bang for my buck are appreciated.

posted by greta simone to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: It's probably worth mentioning that I have a very basic tool kit (hammer, nails, scissors, screws, etc) and a drill. I can probably borrow a hot glue gun and my friend could maybe sew something small. But I don't have any kind of saw or whatever, and no car to carry around lumber or anything large/heavy/oversized.
posted by greta simone at 11:21 AM on November 6, 2017

If you have a suitable window, tack up fake greenery (the real stuff sheds) across the top and a little ways down the sides. Then string lights and add ornaments, all out of cat reach (unless your cat is an extreme climbing superhero). This might work on your fireplace as well.
posted by JanetLand at 11:25 AM on November 6, 2017

Paper chains.
posted by Carol Anne at 11:39 AM on November 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Do you have a spot of open wall that goes down to near the floor? You can make a line drawing of a tree (or gifts or any festive imagery) out of lights and wide ribbon with the magic of Command Strips or little nails. You can attach ornaments or cards (if you get them) starting high up out of kitty's reach, if you want to go beyond minimalism.
posted by janell at 11:39 AM on November 6, 2017

You want a fabric panel to hang on the wall with a christmas tree printed on it - something like this.
posted by Acheman at 11:49 AM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Garlands up high, paper snowflakes, a pile of festive, decorated cookies/cupcakes under a glass dome on the kitchen counter... there was recently an Ask about non-religious advent calendars; maybe your craft-y friend could put something similar together, tree-shaped, for over the fireplace? An abbreviated calendar, just for the days the kids are visiting, means they can each have their own daily tab to open.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:51 AM on November 6, 2017

Oh, also, get some cheap baubles and fill glass vases with them. She won't be able to fish them out, and they look super pretty and christmassy. If you're worried about her getting at the string lights, you can stick them inside too.
posted by Acheman at 11:51 AM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

They wouldn't work well on brick, but I thought of a wall decal in the shape of a tree (here is one). Wall decals go up and come down easily as long as the wall is smooth. Most will work on glass, too, so windows and mirrors are fair game.

Here is an article that might give you some more ideas. Another one shows that you can just hang ornaments in a vaguely triangle shape to simulate a tree.
posted by soelo at 11:52 AM on November 6, 2017

When I was in France I bought 2 big rolls of green wrapping paper and cut out a "tree" to put on the wall. What was really fun was my roommates and I made (2D) ornaments out of construction paper to put on it. (I think we might have also done a 3D paper chain but that wouldn't work for you)

It was fun to make and even better was that we could just recycle it all when we were done with it!
posted by raccoon409 at 11:53 AM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm imagining something like a strategic placement of command hooks on the brick wall which you would then string with lights to form the shape of a tree, with extra hooks to hold flat paper and card ornaments "on" the tree. If there isn't an outlet handy, you can buy battery packs pretty easily these days - for added cuteness wrap it like a little present. Stock your place with construction paper, markers, kid scissors and some string so the kids can make extra decorations too. (I'm assuming that since you trust this family to medicate and care for your cat that you also trust them to make sure string is put away and extra decorations are hung high enough to be cat safe, but you could leave a reminder note about that for the kids.)

For the fireplace, if you knew that the kids did Santa stuff I'd suggest putting a colorful throw pillow in there and attaching a tag that says "Santa Landing Pad". But I also think that maybe the smartest thing would be to block it off neatly with a shelf or something, because kids that age are going to get into small spaces like that and trouble will brew. Something like glass jars with sparkle lights inside would look really nice but be costly unless you catch a sale on them, and possibly encourage fireplace shenanigans due to sparkliness.
posted by Mizu at 11:54 AM on November 6, 2017

I've always like the idea of the upside-down Christmas tree that hangs like a bat from the ceiling.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:08 PM on November 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

We had a cat who liked to climb up inside the tree and knock the ornaments off, so we got all cardboard and plastic ornaments - cardboard stars and snowflakes covered with foil and other shiny stuff, plastic beads (like long strands of Mardi Gras beads), and plastic Christmas balls. The only thing we need worry about is one of the plastic balls being knocked off and rolling under the furniture.

We've got boxes full of lovely glass ornaments, but since we figure we'll always have cats we'll probably never use the glass ornaments again.
posted by MrKellyBlah at 12:16 PM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Go to Lowe's and find the rope: my store has red and white rope that looks like candy canes. It's sold by the linear foot. It makes nifty garland. And at thanksgiving time the black friday sale has super cheap light strings, so you can get enough that has the white cord and intertwine the rope and lights.
posted by mightshould at 5:34 PM on November 6, 2017

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