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Cat-proof cheap Christmas decorations

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In need of cheap, cat-proof, Christmas decoration ideas. I have some friends with two kids (boy age 8 and girl age 6) who will be housesitting for me while I am away visiting my own family over the Christmas holiday. They are doing me a huge favor because I have a cat at home who needs hands-on care (medication and monitoring). They are traveling from my home state to Brooklyn where I live to have a family Christmas trip which otherwise wouldn't be possible without having my place to stay for free. So it's a big win-win.

Since I always travel out of town for the holidays, I have zero Christmas decorations in my home, but I'd like to have something resembling a tree and some other fun festive things so the kids aren't missing out.

But my cat likes to play with leafy/spiny/plant-y things and swallow ribbon/tinsel type things. Basically anything she can fit in her mouth she will try to. So anything that involves pine trees or boughs, fake or real, or dangerous dangly things like those cheap ornaments that break so easily, are off limits. No poinsettias of course (poisonous to cats).

I have a small (maybe 2'h x 2'w x 1'd) unusable cleaned out fireplace which is part of a wider portion of exposed brick wall, and I was thinking about hanging up something in the shape/style of a Christmas tree there and then maybe putting something into the hearth itself? No idea. I'm not crafty or creative at all, but I have a friend who is who is willing to help with actual construction, but I'd love some ideas to start.

My tastes tend to skew more minimal/understated instead of 'Santa threw up in the Walmart', and I don't want anything religious or really anything Santa/reindeer/elf-y because I'm not sure what traditions they celebrate. So basic, but pretty and festive. Of course I'll incorporate string lights somehow and put out some holiday candies.

Also, I would like to spend no more than $50 on everything total, so ideas with a lot of bang for my buck are appreciated.


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