It’s a cubicle Christmas: Holiday decor made easy and cheap with borrowed office supplies

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Whether you work in a cubicle farm or at your desk at home, the inspiration for crafty holiday decorating is all around you. Pushpins, rubber bands, staples, paper goods and even padded shipping envelopes can be twisted and trimmed with creativity. Here are five simple projects to brighten your workplace. How you acquire the supplies is your own business.

File under “creative”: For the tree pictured at right, take a heavyweight hanging file folder (we used a classic dark green one) and lightly trace the shape of a tree. Make sure the trunk is fat and the lowest branch also touches the bottom. Trim your file folder and you will have two identical trees.


Locate and mark the centers of the trees (vertically and horizontally). On tree No. 1, cut a vertical slit from the bottom of the trunk to your mark. On tree No. 2, cut a vertical slit from the top of the tree down to your mark. Slide the two pieces together at a 90-degree angle. Viewed from above, this notch-joinery technique should produce an X-shaped tree that stands on its own. We crowned ours with a red pencil eraser and decorated it with bulbs made of thumbtacks.

Fruitful thinking: In a variation of a favorite holiday pomander — the fragrant orange studded with cloves — substitute rubber bands for ribbons and pushpins for cloves. The orange is wrapped in a colorful plaid pattern, with the vertical bands layered at the bottom and top. For the red apple, clear pushpins and a paper clip transform fruit into hanging ornament. And instead of setting out a bowl of Granny Smith apples — a decorator trick that has become a cliché — stud them with colorful round-headed map pins.

More ingenious uses of office supplies after the jump ...

Stocking stuffer: If you squint, a large bubble wrap envelope has a vaguely quilted appearance. To attract small gifts (or coal), cut one of the plastic envelopes into a stocking shape, bind the edges with paper clips and add a cuff of fringed Post-It notes.

Taking note: It’s the easiest garland we’ve ever strung. Find a “super sticky” Post-It note pad — the kind for pop-up dispensers — and pull. Instant honeycomb garland. (And yes, that wreath is made with folded index cards and gold foil stickers, with push-pins as berries.)

Water cooler moment: This impressive feat of engineering requires six of those cone-shaped paper cups found by the office water dispenser.

Use a stapler (the smaller the better), join two cups, lip to lip. Add a third, and a fourth. Then take the two end cups and staple them together, forming a four-pointed star with a diamond-shaped hole in the center.

To add the star’s bottom and top points, simply take the remaining cups and slip them in the diamond-shaped holes, one pointing down, one pointing up. Thread a paper clip through the pointed tip of the top cup and hang by a paper clip chain.

-- David A. Keeps

Photo credits: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times