What's the look you're going for? It's an important question, because knowing where you're going makes it so much easier to get what you need. Will you go with a theme or motif, like winter or pumpkins or fir trees? Or are you more about a simple, elegant color scheme?
Whatever you decide you need to achieve your goal, write it down so you can get a full view, and then avoid boutiques, high-end decorating stores, and pretty much any place in the mall.
Instead, consider these lesser-known home-décor sources:
Big box stores
Large, chain retailers can have excellent home-décor offerings and typically offer much lower prices than smaller establishments. You can also get in on promotions if your timing is right. Possibilities include not only the more obvious ones like Target, Wal-Mart and K-Mart, which have significant decorating departments, but also home stores like Home Depot and Lowe's. These stores typically offer a lot of decorative accents, such as votives, wreaths, lights and thematic plant pots, on a seasonal basis.
If you plan to make some of your own decorations, a craft store is an obvious source of supplies. Ribbon, spray snow, spray paint, printed paper, and window paint are all inexpensive options. What lots of people don't realize, though, is you don't need to be into crafting to find your décor at a craft store. Many of these outlets carry full-on, premade décor, as well, including candles, candleholders, themed picture frames and tableware, and seasonal baskets, often at a very reasonable price.
It's not just for food! (Although holiday décor can definitely be edible.) Many grocery stores carry tons of inexpensive seasonal décor, including wreaths, decorative ribbon, lighting and plants, with the added bonus of convenience: You can pick up your yards of red velvet ribbon and dried pinecones when you stop in for milk and eggs.
Thrift store, consignment stores, garage sales
It's tough to beat pre-owned for low prices -- and "pre-owned" doesn't necessarily mean "on its last legs." Tons of people like to mix it up each season, and they'll donate or sell some of their holiday décor every few years. Thrift stores, consignment stores and garage sales can all yield excellent (and sometimes nearly new) decorations for a super-low price.
In these modern times, comparing prices is ridiculously easy. Wherever you decide to do your shopping, hop online and make sure your stores offer the best deal. You may find that another store near you is selling the same item for less, or that a wholesale Web site is offering it for practically nothing.
Now, what exactly will you be shopping for?