4 Festive DIYs That Will Fill You With Holiday Pride

For the most part, we're totally decking the halls and ho, ho, ho-ing our way through the holidays. However, sometimes our inner Scrooge can go aggro at the over-commercialization of the season (anyone else draw the line at Walgreens' eggnog-scented candles?). So, to make spirits bright once again, we thought we'd go the slightly less "manufactured" route with some jolly DIY time.
And, since Valerie Killeen of Shelterblack's O.C. abode has already demonstrated some serious handicraft skills, we enlisted her help to create four homespun holiday trimmings for us. From a sick succulent Christmas tree and gorg straw ornaments to the cutest reindeer cupcake, ever, these babies will have you feeling like Santa's little elf in no time.
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Martha Stewart enthusiasts, prepare to be amazed by Killeen's festive creations — all made from the comfort of her O.C. home!
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Spoiler Alert: If you're on Killeen's guest list you'll likely see these bad boys at her upcoming holiday bash!
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"These gorgeous, succulent-clad holiday trees are the perfect hostess gift or centerpiece for your seasonal entertaining. Distinctly natural, these trees will last well-beyond the season, and can be easily transplanted in January for a truly green gift. Namaste!"
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For these natural wonders, you’ll need the following supplies:
2 green oasis cones (Killeen's Tip: Stick to oasis, not styrofoam)
50 cuttings of assorted succulents
2 wooden platforms with a nail for mounting display (A kitchen plate or saucer can work as well!)
1 poker (BBQ kabob skewer or a chopstick will work, too.)
Handful of toothpicks
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Step 1: Using your poker, inset at slight angle (gravity's your friend!) and ensure that the cutting does not fall out.
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Step 2: Remove poker, and inset your succulent. This is ridiculously easy, right?

Killeen's Tip: You’ll find that some of the smaller cuttings can be inserted directly without a poker, while some of the larger specimens may like a little help getting started.
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Step 3: Start from the center, and work your way down. You should save the smaller specimens for the top, and the heavier ones for the bottom.
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Step 4: Should you have any uncooperative plants, feel free to bolster with a toothpick at an angle. This will help support the heavier succulents as they adjust to living vertically.
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Step 5: Set atop a wooden platform or place on a small dessert plate. This is crucial, as you will need to water once a week.
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Step 6: Want 'em to live longer? Place on a sunny windowsill.
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"I'm a sucker for big and bold typography, which is why I’m adoring this fun holiday signage. Balancing natural wood, utilitarian nails, and glitzy yarn, the end result is a super-easy sign that you’ll love to hang in your home for the holidays!"
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For this project you’ll want to have the following on hand:
1 pair of sharp scissors
1 wooden plank (31” long and 10” high)
1 hammer (you can get this chic pink one at Shelterblack!)
A lot of finishing nails
3 shades of metallic yarn (We used Glitter Eyelash by Martha Stewart Crafts)
Double-stick tape
Measuring tape
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Step 1: Print out each letter on separate sheets of computer paper and using your scissors, start snipping.
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Step 2: Arrange the letters an equal distance from each other on the wooden plank. Feel free to use the measuring tape as needed to ensure equal placement.
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Step 3: Employing your double stick tape, put a few small pieces on the corners.

Killeen's Tip: You don’t need a ton of tape, just enough to ensure your letters don’t fly around while you’re nailing.
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Step 4: Place letters while continuing to check on the spacing.
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Step 5: Hammer time! Begin nailing on the perimeter of the stencil, approximately one inch apart, to secure. Be careful not to actually nail your paper (it makes it more difficult to remove stencils).

Killeen's Tip: The corners of the letters are the most important, so it’s good to start there, then continue to fill in.
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Step 6: What the finished nail stencil should look like.
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Step 7: Remove the paper stencils (now, aren’t you happy you didn’t use a ton of tape?).
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You nailed it! Get it?
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Step 8: Accidently nail a few papers? Me, too. Use your favorite tweezers to remove any excess paper bits that may have been trapped under the nails.
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Step 9: Grab your favorite yarn color and start wrapping. Just make sure to create a double knot on a corner to secure.
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Step 10: Tighten the knot.
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Step 11: Trim excess yarn after knot.
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Step 12: Begin wrapping! I did a 360 degree turn around each nail, and connecting with the next closest nail. There’s really no wrong way to do it! Just ensure you get some nice coverage so the letters look crystal clear.
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Step 13: The eyelash thread type can get a bit hairy, so I gave mine a bit of a haircut at the ends.
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Step 14: Rihanna had the right idea — shine bright like a diamond!
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"I’m adoring these yummy cupcakes for the winter season. They're a hybrid of fourth-grade dioramas and the oh-so-now terrariums I’m obsessed with. Inspired by Rue magazine, these mega-easy winter treats are perfect for your next holiday fete!"
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For these yummy holiday cupcakes, start with the following ingredients:
A tub of white frosting (we used cream cheese)
White cake cupcakes (Approximately 1 dozen)
Green food coloring (just add a few drops into the tub for frosting until that minty green color is achieved)
1 butter knife
1 set of tweezers
1 dozen mini deer
1 dozen mini trees
1 cup of shredded coconut
1 cake platter
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Step 1: Once you've baked your cupcakes, affix frosting with the butter knife. Don’t worry about being perfect — any discrepancies can be played off as wind-drift snow!
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Step 2: Place your winter tree into the frosting.

Killeen's Tip: Don't forget to hide the base of the prop for a more realistic touch!
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Step 3: Using your tweezers, add coconut under base of tree. Remember to extend the flakes to the perimeter, leaving a bit of green frosting still showing around edge of cupcake.
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Step 4: Insert feet of deer into cupcake.

Killeen's Tip: Push the feet in deep to ensure our friend doesn't try to run away!
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Step 5: Display the whole fam on a pretty cake plate and enjoy!
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"Ridiculously easy, these geometric holiday ornaments are inspired by a Finnish tradition called Himmeli. While the traditional ornaments are made from natural straw, I’ve improvised with some trusty plastic cocktail straws. The result is a mega-affordable structure that's certain to remind you of your molecule-making days at science camp (my inner nerd very much revealed)."
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For these dazzling contemporary ornaments, you’ll need the following supplies:
Many cocktail straws
Clear fishing line
Spray glue
Spray glitter
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Step 1: Using scissors, cut approximately five feet of fishing line.
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Step 2: Cut a handful of straws in half. You should now have both short straws and full-length straws.
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Step 3: Bait, er, thread three short straws on the line.
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Step 4: Center the three short straws.
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Step 5: Secure the three short straws with a double knot, creating a triangle.
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Step 6: Ensure you have long lengths of line on either ends and try to keep the triangle at the center.
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Step 7: Taking one end, thread on two more short straws. The goal is to create two triangles that share an edge.
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Step 8: Thread balance of fishing line through the shared edge of triangles, and secure with the other end of the line. Tie a double knot.
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Step 9: With the goal of creating a pyramid with your linking triangles, thread one more short straw. Thread line through the straw as needed and secure on opposite end with a double knot.
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Step 10: Secure completed pyramid with a knot.
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Step 11: Repeat previous steps to affix second pyramid to completed first pyramid. You will then have two pyramids joined together, length-wise.
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Step 12: With two completed pyramids affixed to each other, thread two full-length straws to create a very tall pyramid on top edge. Thread the remaining line and add a final full-length straw to ensure that the pyramid is three-sided, atop completed smaller pyramids. Using extra thread, create a small loop at the top edge for hanging.
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Step 13: Take the ornament outside and coat it in spray glue.
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Step 14: Roll finished ornament in glitter. Not a fan of sparkles? Consider a coat of metallic gold spray for a nice contrast against the tree!
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Step 15: Hang to dry and pat yourself on the back.