How to Decorate Your House for the Holidays on a Budget

For some people, the holidays aren't complete without festive decorations.
For some people, the holidays aren't complete without festive decorations. See more Christmas pictures.
Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images

For some people, the holidays aren't complete without the festive decorations of the season. Secular or religious, special occasions can feel even more so with the right décor.

Holiday décor, of course, can be a strain on the wallet, especially if you re-decorate more than once a year, and you may think you need to forego the ritual in the interest of your budget. But guess what: Decorating your home in the spirit of the day can cost very little if you put some care and creativity into it.


Care and creativity, by the way, doesn't require a ton of time, of which most of us have little to spare. "Affordable" doesn't have to mean "homemade," so it doesn't have to take hours to save some dough.

Here, some budget-friendly holiday decorating ideas to get you through the season with style, inspiration, beauty and cash in the bank.

Where to start when looking for inexpensive décor? You might be surprised ...


How to Get Holiday Decorations for Less

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.

Craft store

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.

Grocery store

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.

Online search

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?


Tips for Holiday Decorating on a Budget

Before you start shopping, create a holiday theme.
Before you start shopping, create a holiday theme.
Comstock Images/Getty Images

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.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

More Great Links

  • Copeland, Blythe. "7 Gorgeous Green Ways to Décorate for the Holidays--Without Blowing the Budget." Tree Hugger. Dec. 9, 2009. (Sept. 26, 2011)écorate-for-the-holidays-without_blowing-the-budget.php#ch01
  • Holiday decorating on a budget: Deck the halls with these good calls. We the Savers - ING. (Sept. 26, 2011)écorating-on-a-budget-deck-the-halls-with-these-good-calls/
  • Take It From the Pros: Holiday Decorating on a Budget. People. Dec. 10, 2008. (Sept. 26, 2011),,20245746,00.html
  • White, Martha C. "Debt-Free Holidays: Eight Ways to Decorate on a Budget." Daily Finance. Nov. 19, 2010. (Sept. 26, 2011)écorate-on-a-budget/
  • Wilson, Kathleen. "10 Great Holiday Decorating Ideas on a Budget." Better Budgeting. (Sept. 26, 2011)écorating/christmasideas.htm