All seasoned decorators know a handy, indispensable trick for pulling together a look, and it's even more important when you're trying to do the most with the least.
Create a plan.
What's your theme? How will you go about reflecting it? With a good blueprint, you can use what you've already got in new ways and buy only what you need to complete the look.
Not sure exactly where you're going? Check out a few of these utterly customizable, affordable decorating ideas:
They're not just for Christmas trees and eaves -- far from it. Lights, especially the tiny white ones, can do so much for holiday decorating both inside and out, and they can look classy. String them from the ceiling in rows, wrap them around banisters, drape them from a mantle, or wind them into a unique, mural-like design on a living-room wall.
Here's one you may not have thought of: season-specific photographs. Go out with your camera and take pictures of sites that, to you, scream "holidays." Print 'em, frame 'em and hang them in groups on an entry wall or line them up on a sideboard or mantle.
Ribbon, ribbon, ribbon
Oh, what you can do with a few yards of ribbon. Sure, you can tie it in bows on a tree or a wreath, but there are some outside-the-box options, too. With a few colors and textures of ribbon, some glue, and rigid base, you can create a collage worthy of framing. It can also wind around banisters, tree trunks and chandelier chains and act as a lush, colorful base for pine cones in a glass bowl.
Color can be everything
When you're going for an understated, elegant look that still says "holiday cheer," it's tough to beat color themes. Group same-color elements, such as vases, flowers, picture frames, and/or lights, to create a simple, high-style display. Reds, blues, metallics and autumn shades make excellent holiday color schemes.
One final tip on spending a little for a lot of style: Start early. Very early -- like, say, the day after you finish celebrating. Most stores (even the high-end ones!) put holiday-related décor on clearance the second the holiday is over. Buy early, buy cheap and store it until next year. You'll get a rush when you open up that box of brand-new décor in 11 months.
For more information on decorating, budget-friendly style and related topics, look over the links on the next page.