How to Decorate for Christmas on a Budget

Big on Christmas but not on budget? Relatable.

Any chance I get to make my place more cozy, I jump at it. And Christmas is my shining moment. My heart swoons for twinkling string lights, the smell of fresh pine candles, and the aura of comfort that Christmas decorations exude.

My first holiday season living on my own with my boyfriend was pretty comical though, I’ll admit. I imagine the security camera footage of my face was priceless when I saw the cost of Christmas decorations at Target. Growing up I never realized decorating lavishly comes with a price tag… Props to mom.

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In the end though, money didn’t stop me from one of my favorite festivities and I don’t want it to stop you either. I’m not suggesting you pull out the credit card or take out a small loan of a million dollars. No, let’s take care of ourselves this holiday and be money smart. Instead, let’s look for bargains, get creative, and have some fun with how we accumulate holiday decor.

With the help of my friends and family, I’ve come up with a short list of clever (and some humorous) ways that you can make your home a winter wonderland no matter your budget.

So you want freebies.  

  • Fall back on family. There’s a possibility that your parents or grandparents have decades worth of decorations stored somewhere in their attic. Find out if you can take anything off their hands that doesn’t hold a lot of responsibility. Like, don’t ask for the Christmas gravy boat that’s been passed down for generations. But, take the window clings.
  • Unleash your inner Facebook mom. A lot of people have gotten away from Facebook recently, but there are people who still use it regularly (no lie). Post an update asking if anyone has decorations they don’t want anymore. Maybe someone you sort of know will be willing to give you some spare stockings. Bonus points if you get your mom to share the post with her friends.
  • If you’re crafty, consider printables. If you have a printer, scissors, thick paper, and loads of patience you can find printable decorations online. Download the PDF once, print as many as you want, and follow the instructions to have yourself a crafty little Christmas. For more creative decorating ideas, scroll down to the clever section.
  • A sketchy Craigslist search. If you’re not afraid of anything, go crazy on Craigslist. I don’t totally recommend it but I heard people can get just about anything on there. I shouldn’t have to say this but, take precautions, like bring someone with you if you actually meet up with someone for free stuff (this goes for Facebook, too I guess).

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You got a few bucks to spend.

  • Check out Target’s dollar section (yes, that’s a thing). So, in general Target tends to be pricey compared to other retailers. But, the Target dollar spot is legit. You can find decor for under $10 a lot of the time. I recommend going in store to shop because on the site everything tends to be a bit pricier to balance out the free shipping. Your choice.
  • It’s called Five Below for a reason. If you love Target’s dollar spot, Five Below is pretty much the same thing just on steroids. Everything is five dollars or less. Most people think this store is just for kids, but they actually have an assortment of affordable holiday decorations that are great for apartments and houses alike.
  • Dollar stores are the OG. If they still exist where you live, hit up a dollar store because everything is literally one buck or less. If you have $20 in your budget, you can deck the friggen halls. Just make sure you go to an actual dollar store like Dollar Tree, not a Dollar General.

You’re not afraid to get clever.

An issue you may run into is that all the super affordable decorations aren’t exactly what you want. You may not want 50 red bows, you just want 15 cute ornaments. You don’t want 60 candy canes, you want one million scented candles. I get it. But, beggars can’t be choosers so what I do is put a spin on some of the decorations purposes. Here a few examples:

  • Cards. Hallmark cards might be a thing of the past to a lot of people. But, I’m super sentimental and keep every card my friends and family give me. That goes for Christmas cards too, not just birthdays. I stole this idea from my family: I take our Christmas cards and hang them on our walls, doors, and refrigerator. They don’t just double as decorations, they also remind you of your loved ones all season long. *Cries*
  • Wooden gift tags. I wanted more than just a few ball ornaments on my tree… But, the fun ornaments at Target were like $12.00 a pop and our tree was huge (we cut our own tree down last year and it’s well worth the splurge). So instead, I found a variety of more affordable wooden gift tags that could double as ornaments. It gave our tree personality and they lasted better in storage since they aren’t fragile like glass.
  • Candy canes. You can get an absurd amount of candy canes and peppermints for practically nothing. If you keep them wrapped in their plastic, you can use them as decor during the holiday. We filled the wine and beer glasses we have on display with peppermints and put candy canes on our tree (and anything else they’d hang on). Plus, having candy at an arm’s length throughout the house was an added bonus for whenever I had a sweet tooth.IMG-8934
  • Party decor. This was a funny shtick my sisters did one year. They got a ton of red and green balloons for the house. Then, they spelled out “Happy Birthday Jesus” with red and green construction paper and made a banner. Yes, they went for a Jesus birthday theme. I’m totally not against this. But, if you’re highly Christian you may be appalled or offended. Let’s cool it and act like God’s got a great sense of humor. Can I get an amen?  

As you probably know, there are so many more ways you can get creative with decorating this holiday. I had a lot of people share with me what they’ve done and if I wasn’t missing out on prime decorating time right now, I would add so many more ideas. But hey, I’d love to know what you and your family have done, especially if it’s against the grain or funny. Feel free to get in touch to tell me your own stories.

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