Saturday, September 30, 2023


Holiday decorations for the RVer: These fit into a shoebox!

I have been searching the internet to get some ideas for holiday decorations for the RVer. I saw page after page of lights and trees and pillows and rugs and – and – and…  The truth is, I have no dedicated space to put holiday decorations, especially for multiple holidays. One page suggested you mail your decorations back home – or someplace – after you were done.


There may be space for a very small box, such as a plastic shoe container, in our “garage” storage area. That is all the space I am willing to give up. So that is my challenge.

The solution may be to use natural materials that can be returned to nature, composted, or eaten by local wildlife. Did I mention I am also quite frugal?


There is a consensus that lights are a must. If you know some history around winter solstice traditions and the Yule, then you know that it is a celebration of the return of the light.

Ancient peoples saw the days getting shorter and shorter, and each year they did not believe that the trend would turn the other way. When the days began to have more light (around December 21st in the northern hemisphere), there were big celebrations. It was a time of renewal.

Somehow it evolved into having light displays that can be seen from the International Space Station.

Here are some options to explore for lighting during the holidays that will fit into a shoebox:

  • Luminaria show – Use brown paper lunch sacks filled with whatever natural base you have around – sand, small rocks, pebbles. Join in with your neighbors and give each one 4 or 5 to line up in front of their space. Get a 100 pack of tea lights from the craft store and have everyone light their candles at the same time on Winter Solstice and enjoy walking through the lights then having a potluck. Or you could just have your own private light show! When finished, put the rocks back and recycle the paper bags.
  • Put fairy lights (battery operated) into jars. Decorate with ribbon and natural greenery (more on that later). Place on a windowsill. Or wrap them around an outdoor plant or potted tree. You can get the fairy lights in 4-packs, and they take up very little space.

Greenery and the tree

So many campsites in my research were showing Christmas trees in their RV. One took out the table to put in a full-size tree! Then there are all the ornaments! I guess they were not full-time RVers. Maybe you have a lot of storage space that will work, but I am thinking most of us don’t.

It is nice to have some greenery in the home during the holidays. I’m not a fan of the plastic, fake stuff. Plus, it is quite bulky. So, my challenge this year is to find accessible greenery in southern Arizona. Here are some thoughts.

  • Live Tree – I used to have a Norfolk Pine that I used in my office one Christmas, and then had it as a house plant the rest of the year. It worked great. And in the right climate, it can live outside. Another option is to get a potted evergreen that you can plant in someone’s yard. Just make sure it is native to the area. Decorations can be a string of popcorn, dried orange slices, or cranberries – all of which the birds will love after the holidays. I happen to have a bag of beads from some old costume jewelry that I can make additional bling for the tree.
  • Garland and Wreaths – I am told you can go to tree lots and box stores and request the trimmings from the trees. These can be used to make wreaths and swags to hang on the door and decorate inside. Add some dried fruit, twigs, pinecones and paper ribbons to finish it off. You can even add fresh citrus if you are in the right location. Lemons would be my choice.

Miscellaneous decorations

You already have your tree decorated and your wreaths hung. Now it’s time to add some cheer to other areas. Here are a few examples:

  • Have a craft night and cut out paper snowflakes. Use different shades of blue paper, which you can buy by the sheet at craft stores. Stick on your windows and mirrors, or hang from inside fixtures.
  • Make pinecones dipped in wax and place them in a bowl with things like pomegranates, oranges, rose hips, and cranberries. The wax makes the cones look like they have snow, and they make great fire starters at the next campfire.
  • Live Poinsettia and Amaryllis flowers add a lot of color.
  • Use paper grocery bags and cut small flags to hang on a string (like prayer flags).  Each flag can have a letter, B-E M-E-R-R-Y (or whatever you want to say) using a bright pen or paint. Bags can be recycled after the holidays.
  • Cut out black circles from paper to turn your fridge into a snowman, and, of course, an orange carrot nose!
  • Does your RV resort have a woodshop? Cut some “tree cookies” from a small diameter branch (2-3 inches). Glue the cookies together in a wreath pattern and add greenery and ribbon to a lower corner. Change out the décor for different holidays – hearts for valentines, eggs for Easter, and so on.

It looks like if I follow this plan, I can fit all my reusable decorations inside of the shoe box. It will include a few packs of fairy lights, a string of costume jewelry garland, and some ribbon. Now it’s time to get started!

If you have some ideas for holiday decorations made from nature, please let me know in the comments below.



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Pamela Coley
1 year ago

I don’t have room in the 5r cabin nor a place to store even a small tree with decorations. I bought an artificial wreath and hot glued all my favorite ornaments onto it. It fits in a flat wreath storage box and hangs in the picture window in the living room during the holidays. I LOVE it!

1 year ago

Perhaps it would be worth spending $5 to $10 at a dollar store. Donate them to the place you are staying if you don’t want to store them afterwards. Or see if another camper wants them.

1 year ago

Update: while getting groceries this week I saw the trees had arrived at the store. I asked the young man what they do with trimmings. He wasn’t sure – he just threw them in a box. I asked if I could have some and he said yes, so now I have two swag wreaths on the RV, and a small bunch in a vase on the counter. For no cost and can return to nature after they dry out.

Deborah Miller
1 year ago

We have a felt tree, with ornaments, we got from Amazon. It fits in a gallon ziplock and hangs on the wall. Just take it out each year and iron it flat.

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