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How to Decorate for Christmas on a Budget

Updated on February 4, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

We have a huge village collection that we add to every year.
We have a huge village collection that we add to every year.

I am Dreaming of a Green Christmas....

Face it. Year after year people, intelligent, responsible, creative and mature people, go into loads of debt over Christmas. Special foods, gifts, and decorating take their toll when, in January, the bills start rolling in.

But there are ways around that. Decorating a home with beautiful holiday décor does not have to be expensive. Beauty is a combination of aesthetics and the stirring of people's memories and emotions. Stores intentionally scent the air with cinnamon and spices to make people feel good and recall their past memories. You can do the same thing in your Holiday Home!

Candles Are Inexpensive

Simplicity is elegant. That is why Coco Channel sold so many versions of her "little black dress". A simple pillar candle can be beautiful if it is setting in a bowl of cranberries, or peppermint candies. Some candle ideas are:

1. Fill a mason jar with cranberries, or starlight mints (or even cinnamon candies) and set a votive on top. Make a grouping with several jars of varying sizes.

2. Use a basket to fill with red and green apples. Put a pillar candle on a holder in the middle of the basket. You may need to raise it up some with an overturned jar. If your basket is big enough, use three candles of varying heights.

3. Use a large pillar candle centered in some greenery in the middle of a table.

4. Set pillar candles of various sizes on saucers and surround with potpourri. Arrange across a table or mantle.

5. Put a votive in an antique tea cup and sit it on a saucer atop several vintage holiday books.

Use What You Have

You probably have a lot of things around the house that would be happy to get some attention as Christmas decorations. Think about your own memories and what they include.

1. A rag doll or teddy bear seated atop a stack of your favorite holiday books (even cookbooks!)

2. A basket or bowl filled with metal holiday cookie cutters and decorated with a festive bow.

3. Have a toy wagon or sled? put it by the front door filled with wrapped gifts (or even wrapped empty boxes). Add a few wooden or vintage toys and stuffed animals if you like.

4. Use your Christmas cards! Display them in groups, varying the height with books..or display them in a big wooden bowl or basket.

5.Hang ornaments or even cookies on ribbon in the windows

6. Download a Christmas screen saver on your computer

7. Bowls of in shell nuts are great, either with just nuts or with oranges in the bowl as well.

8. Fill a glass or crystal punch bowl with Christmas balls that you don't need for the tree or that have lost their hangers.

Bring the Outside In

Most people have evergreen trees of some sort available to them. Even the twigs and small branches of hardwood trees can look festive with a little care.

1. Gather pine cones and arrange them in a basket or even a Christmas gift bag. For a casual look by the fireplace set the bag on it's side and allow the pine cones to spill out. You can spray paint them bronze, or gold, or you can glue glitter on them for a frosty look, or spray them with fake snow.

2.Cut boughs of evergreen and wire it together to make long swags to go up the banister or around the door. This takes a little practice but the results are beautiful.

3.Make an evergreen wreath in the same way.

4. Mass evergreen boughs on a fireplace mantle, atop kitchen cabinets or on china cabinets and armoires. Run the small twinkling lights through them if you like.

5. Spray paint twigs and small branches gold and gather them in bundles tied with ribbon.

Thrift Shops and Garage Sales

Thrift shops are an absolute treasure chest when it comes to holiday décor. Some people get new things every year and cast off their old. Sometimes the old ornaments and decorations just need a little sprucing up like the poor little tree on Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!

1. You can paint old glass ornaments. Clean ornament and use a little fine sandpaper to get the loose paint off if necessary. Spray paint with your color of choice.

2. You can also roll in glue and cover with glitter

3. Spray with fake snow to flock it.

4. Glue ribbon around it.

6. Decoupage Christmas wrap on it

Old fake greenery can be transformed with some fake snow, some ribbon and a hot glue gun. Just spray the snow on the greenery and hot glue bows to it.

Old magazines and books may have just the pictures or ads that you are looking for for decoupage projects or for laminating and turning into ornaments.

Create A Festive Topiary

Random Ideas

1. Cut an orange in thin rounds and dry in oven. Hang slices on the tree or windows or place in bowls.

2. Don't forget scent. Use scented candles in evergreen, orange, or spice scents.

3. Tie or attach bows to chairs, tables, light fixtures and door knobs.

4. Create garlands by stringing popcorn and/or cranberries.

5. Hang several pairs of mittens up on a "clothesline" across the window

6. String buttons on a homespun yarn or twine.

7. One year I made an advent quilt by making a wall hanging with 24 stockings appliqued on it and left open at the top. Each day the children got to have what was in the stockings.

8. Use candy canes in bowls, in vases..where ever.

9. Make a gingerbread house!

10. Let the kids make garlands from pasta shapes. Spray paint them first if you wish.

Use Your Imagination

There are so many things you can do. Use your imagination to create a gorgeous holiday home that welcomes your family and friends.

And that really is the key to a beautiful home. Remember it is not the things that are in it or how they are arranged but the warmth and welcome that emanates from it when you step inside!


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    • FinancialChef profile image


      6 years ago from Florida

      You are giving Martha Stuart a run for her money!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Awesome Hub. You have some really great ideas for decorating for Christmas without spending a lot of money.

    • Lou1842 profile image


      6 years ago

      Fantastic tips. Will be back in time in a couple of weeks before I decorate for Christmas!

    • kikalina profile image


      6 years ago from Europe

      Christmas is still a few months away but these are great ideas especially to do with my kids as activities.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      These ideas are great! This year I am aiming to spend nothing on decorations and use what I have. I have been framing Christmas cards and using them as decorations, but you have so many other great ideas as well. Thanks!

    • SammySammo profile image


      7 years ago from Boston, MA

      I absolutely love this. I'm going to return to this Hub when I'm decorating my new apartment, whenever that time comes along.

    • profile image 

      7 years ago

      Great hub! I love the ideas you shared to us. This is really useful at this time, we need to budget all our expenses but we have to celebrate Christmas. Decorating can be fun and affordable all be need is to be creative.

    • anne_with_an_e profile image


      7 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      I love these ideas! These are wonderful & simple ways to decorate for Christmas without spending too much. Gets Christmas back to what it's supposed to be about.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      yeah these are really great idea's....thanks

    • Madama profile image


      7 years ago from Harrisburg PA

      Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago








    • PearTreeGreetings profile image


      7 years ago from Rexburg, ID

      Just brilliant! I love your ideas for inexpensive holiday decorating -- they are both financially manageable and environmentally responsible. Many people use recycled Christmas cards and a live potted tree, but you have provided us with a whole new set of ideas for the upcoming holiday season. Thank you!

    • Isela profile image


      7 years ago

      I set The goal of not getting into debt this Christmas, so I really loved your ideas!

    • caceewalsh profile image


      7 years ago from Montana

      Excellent! I will definitely be using some of these tips!

    • carrie450 profile image


      7 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

      Thanks for these wonderful tips. I'll surely try some of them out.

    • cwarden profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      You are very creative. This is a great hub and very useful to me this year, lots of ideas for keeping my holiday costs in check. Thanks!

    • kephrira profile image


      7 years ago from Birmingham

      Handy tips, thanks!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This blog has been posted several years ago, but I happened to just stumble on it! Thank you for all the wonderful Ideas! Its October but I am already starting to think about holiday décor:)

    • MsFran profile image


      7 years ago from Here and There, Everywhere

      I love candles and they always look festive!

    • scanzin profile image


      8 years ago from Not Spcified

      Nice article, and timely. I put up outdoor lights today, and will be getting a Christmas tree this week. You may what to update your article to discuss LED Christmas tree lights. I'm thinking of changing to them this year for the tree to save electricity and be a little more "green". I have yet to see any LED lights though that are as bright and warm as regular lights..

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 

      9 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      I'm glad I happen to stumble on your blog, nice ideas...

    • Ebiz Tax Tips profile image

      Ebiz Tax Tips 

      9 years ago from Missouri

      Great hub! Many people forget about the cost of decorating when they plan their holiday budget, and unfortunately the cost of decorations can really add up. You have some great ideas in this hub... I love candles, so will definitely implement that tip!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for the great budget-minded ideas that will help this year during this economy! Merry Christmas!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      The yarn ornaments are very cute! And you're right, a touch of evergreen scent really makes if feel a bit more like Christmas.

    • MrMarmalade profile image


      10 years ago from Sydney

      We can certainly incorporate some of your great ideas.

      thank you

    • Gwensgifts profile image


      10 years ago

      Great ideas!


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