Holiday Décor For Less
I have inherited my mom’s passion for Christmas themes, and every year has to be different. One year the tree may be covered in gingerbread; the next it could be snowflakes or vintage ornaments. I’m an expert at generating fresh ideas, but stretching my budget to incorporate an entirely new look takes a bit more creativity. I can’t afford a professional decorator, and that would take all the fun out of it anyway. Here are my favorite tips for decorating for Christmas and still having enough money left to buy gifts.
Deck the Tree for Less
Inspired by a trip to New Mexico, last year I chose a Southwestern theme. I loved the look of chili pepper lights on the tree, but new sets were pretty pricey. An Ebay search uncovered secondhand strands for much less. I searched thrift shops for Indian pottery and Southwest-inspired décor. These places are goldmines for finding holiday items for next to nothing.
If you’re planning a vintage theme, resale shops are fabulous places to find retro décor. Antique malls can be expensive, but shopping local flea markets and yard sales can unearth real steals. Etsy is another wonderful place to find authentic or handmade bargains with that vintage feel.
In your quest for sparkle, don’t overlook discount stores. Dollar stores carry multi-packs of glittery stars and snowflakes for only $1 each; cover the whole tree without spending a lot. Low-cost retailers from Target to TJ Maxx often have unique and on-trend ornaments for only a few dollars each.
Do It Yourself Décor
I was having a hard time finding Southwest ornaments that didn’t cost a fortune, so I decided to make my own. I covered paper mache ornaments (less than $1 each at Michaels) with dollar-store bandanas. I also used leather scraps and cheap faux turquoise stones to fashion one-of-a-kind designs. How creative can you get? Michaels sells a variety of plain cardboard, wooden and ceramic ornaments that you can paint and embellish to fit any style.
Don’t waste your dough (pun intended) on plastic gingerbread men, either. Some real cookies come in a variety of shapes with holes for easy hanging. Better yet, make your own by using a straw to poke a hole in the top before baking. As a bonus, the house will smell wonderful, too.
Mix a batch of salt-dough to make more permanent ornaments. These can be painted after cooling and will keep for years. Not that crafty? It’s okay. Why not hang your tree with Christmas cookie cutters instead?
Go Au Naturel
One of the best ways to make your house festive without spending a fortune is to keep it simple. Nothing says high-class like minimal décor. A quick trip to your local garden store or Trader Joe’s will garner a collection of mini pine trees in burlap bags, Christmas cactus and living poinsettias to sprinkle around the house. A couple of real wreaths to hang on the front door and above the fireplace are prettier and cheaper than the fake ones.
If you’re blessed to live in a country setting, that's even better. Gather pine branches and holly for garlands and wreaths right in your own yard for free. Fresh fruits, like oranges studded with cloves and cranberry strings, make lovely decorations. To add a sparkly touch, glitter some pinecones and feathers or mix in a few gold ornaments.
To Wrap It All Up
Of course, no tree is complete without presents underneath. Keep the look complementary with gift wrap to match your theme, but expensive paper isn’t necessary. Brown craft paper is cheap, but looks luxe when sponge-printed or jazzed up with ribbons, faux jewels or greenery. I painted white dollar-store paper with brown and black spots to make cow-print wrap last year and used bandanas to cover small gifts. Fabric scraps make unique and fancy wrapping.
Whether your inspiration is all-out glitter and glitz, or the simplicity of nature’s finery, I hope this has given you the confidence to know that you can do it yourself. And think of all the extra gifts you can buy with all the money you save using handmade decorations. Maybe even a little something special for yourself!