Tag Archives: DIY

Deck the Dorm Halls – Cheap Decorating Tips for Christmas at College

These cheap decorating tips for Christmas at college will help you become a source inspiration among your peers...

For students away from home during the lead-up to Christmas, it can be hard to get into the holiday spirit. One way to change this is to decorate, but most college kids are living on a budget already. So, how can you make your dorm room as festive as possible without emptying your bank account? We’ve come up with a few ideas for you.


The first tip is to get your hands dirty! Glitter, glue, paint – these things are all minimal costs, but can be reused again and again to create spectacular holiday effect in your home away from home. There are a number of amazing decorations available to those who are willing to look in the right places. Often, the components are things found around the house. For instance, you can make unarguably adorable penguins in scarves and hats using old soda bottles or make your very own Frosty from old cans. Even a toilet paper roll can be transformed into a cute little reindeer with the right tools and a can-do attitude.

Christmas isn’t complete without a tree and there are a ton of alternatives to the fresh (pine-needle dropping) kind. You can make a tree from books, toilet paper rolls, or painted pine cones. There is also washi tape which is a great, cheap decorating tool limited only by your imagination; it doesn’t leave any marks on walls and it comes in a ton of different colors and designs.


Bargain Buys

If you have a few extra dollars to spend, try going to dollar stores or hunt for sales online. Dollar stores often have big packs of decorations that you can mix and match in various places around your room or in your hall. You may have to hunt a bit to find what you want, but there are some good options and having ornaments, tinsel  and pretty fairy lights around can add a traditional element to some of your more eccentric DIY projects.

The web is also a great place to look for cheap decorations. Take advantage of sale days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday for finding great deals and use your student discount on sites to avoid shipping and handling charges.

Make it Personal

Whether you share a dorm or have a room to yourself, Christmas will be more fun if it feels like you. This means personalizing decorations where possible. On the DIY stuff, you can easily paint your name or that of your roommate onto the decorations. Printing out pictures and arranging them in the shape of a tree, surrounding them with tinsel can be a great way to make it feel like you are surrounded by family and friends. 

As Christmas draws closer, why not put together a great Christmas playlist and get your roommates involved in the decorating – soon you’ll be in the holiday spirit and your room will be the envy of everyone in the dorm!

Images by amy gizienski and Karen Lee used under the Creative Commons license. 

Why Use Licensed Contractors and Not to Just DIY?

Why should you spend money on a licensed contractor when you can figure out how to do a job and do it yourself? If you’re smart, you will know the difference between viable DIY jobs and those you should leave to professional contractors.

when to use or contractor or DIY

Doable DIY Jobs

Some jobs are obviously doable. You can paint a room, for example, or change a washer. If you have some carpentry skills and a few tools, you can even do some minor remodeling jobs. With a little effort, you can probably pour some concrete or build a small retaining wall for your garden. There are dozens of doable DIY jobs, but where do you draw the line?

When You Need a Licensed Contractor

Alex is one of the advisors at License Trades and it was nice to talk with him regarding “why we need licensed contractor”. Building regulations vary from state to state and even county to county, but they all have a few things in common. Regulations are put in place to:

  • Protect public safety;
  • Insure work is completed to a minimum standard; and
  • Protect consumers against shoddy workmanship.

You’re probably in college because you want to obtain the necessary skills to practice a profession. Without those skills, you cannot go on to become a teacher, an architect, a lawyer or whatever profession you wish to enter. Similarly, laws are in place to prevent individuals or businesses to perform work they are not qualified or experienced enough to do.

Before anyone can obtain a trade license, they have to prove their ability in a number of ways. Some formal training may be required, but at the very least, they will have to work under the supervision of a licensed contractor for a number of years before a prospective contractor can apply for a license. When they do apply, they will have to pass an examination, provide the licensing board with references and prove they have enough finances to set up and run their business. They will also have to obtain insurance and renew their license periodically.

You wouldn’t go to a doctor or dentist who wasn’t legally qualified to do their job. Think about that the next time you are tempted to take on a DIY job that requires the skills of a licensed contractor. If a carpentry job requires structural modifications, don’t attempt it. If a plumbing job is more technical than replacing a washer, hire a plumber. Never take on electrical or gas installation jobs yourself if they go beyond plugging in or hooking up an appliance. It’s just not worth the risk.