A mum-of-two has made all her Christmas decorations out of cardboard, including the tree itself, since separating from her husband and having leftover cardboard boxes from the house move.
Josie Dom, 52, from Colchester in Essex, a children’s author, virtual assistant and upcycling business owner, has two children, Oliver, 16, and Abigail, 14, and made the family’s cardboard tree in 2019 when her husband threw out the artificial one.
Josie said her cardboard Christmas will save her money amid the cost-of-living crisis, as she plans to use all her recycled decorations for years to come and they have cost her next to nothing.
Including improvements to her tree, she has made a range of cardboard decorations this year, such as reindeer pulling a sleigh, a wreath and a star, all in the name of creativity.
She also made reusable Christmas crackers and wrapping paper to avoid waste.
Josie was left with a lot of cardboard after moving house in October 2022, after separating from her husband of 21 years, which she used for her latest creations.
“I bought new beds because the beds were left in our old home,” she said.
“I had three new beds delivered in November, and I put the cardboard boxes in the garage, thinking I’d arrange for the council to take them away.
“But I never did… I remembered that I made my Christmas tree from cardboard in 2019 and thought I’d do that again.”
In 2019 Josie said her ex-husband had got rid of their artificial tree, so she improvised.
“I can’t remember why (he got rid of it), but I think he said it was past its best, and it was time for it to go,” she said.
“I don’t actually like artificial trees, and I would have liked to buy a real tree with roots and then plant it in the garden, but we didn’t have enough room.
“We had all these boxes, and I thought I could make something out of this, so I Googled cardboard Christmas trees and found a template.
“That year, I built it with my daughter, and we had great fun.”
Josie said it took about a week for her to complete her tree and decorations, between her working hours.
Altogether, Josie has made a Christmas tree, a sleigh pulled by three reindeer, mini Christmas trees on her mantelpiece and a star, all for little to no cost.
She also uses fabric to wrap her presents and makes reusable Christmas crackers, and has even used a rusting metal flan dish to make a wreath with leftover tinsel to avoid throwing it in the bin.
“It’s quite nice to sit and be creative,” Josie said.
“I enjoy upcycling, making something out of something that might have been rubbish, and I hate anything going into landfill.
“So I try to avoid that if I can, and I do lots of recycling and upcycling.”
Josie upcycles skirts from charity shops by turning them into bags, and uses her children’s old karate belts to make baskets.
She is using her tree from 2019 but is planning on making a fabric cover for it with some more decoration, saying: “I’m going to put some loops onto my fabric cover for the Christmas tree so that I can hang up my ornaments on the new tree.
“I went through my ornaments to find the light ones because it’s only fabric, so I can’t put any heavy ones on there.
“I will also make some bunting with Christmas material when I’ve got it. So hopefully, it’ll look quite good.”
Josie said the hardest decoration she made was the reindeer, saying: “It was really fiddly to cut out, even though I got a template from the internet.
“My daughter saw it this morning and said, ‘Oh wow, that’s so cute’.
“I’ve also got an idea to make a garland, cut out some holly leaves, then stick some pom-poms on it, so we’ll see how that goes.”
She still owns traditional Christmas decorations but decided not to put them up this year to embrace the cardboard theme fully – but has two exceptions.
She has put fairy lights up and one very sentimental decoration – the angel that went on top of her childhood Christmas tree throughout the 1970s.
Josie explained how people have reacted to her cardboard Christmas, saying: “I had one friend who said that he saw what I was doing on Facebook and messaged me saying he can send me his artificial tree because he’s not using it this year.
“I don’t want an artificial tree. I’m not doing this because I’ve not got one.
“I’m doing this because I want to.”
Even when Josie put up traditional Christmas decorations in the past, she would always reuse what she owned, save for a couple of new pieces each year.
She said: “I love the nostalgia of it all.
“I also make reusable Christmas crackers and wrap my presents up in fabric to be eco-friendly.
“I use the same decorations for nostalgia instead of eco reasons, and I wouldn’t want to throw out sentimental decorations.”
Josie is planning on keeping all the decorations she has made this year to reuse them next year, which she said is especially helpful amid the current cost-of-living crisis.
She said: “I’m going to save everything from this year so it’ll save me some money for next year as well. I won’t be looking to buy a tree next year either.
“I think it would be really good for anyone who has just moved into a new home and hasn’t got anything from previous Christmases.
“It’s just so fun to do, and you get such a sense of achievement when you sit in your living room at the end of the day and see what you’ve made. You can make everything Christmassy, from nothing really.”