If you’re looking to turn your home into a winter wonderland this Christmas but don’t have the funds — or the desire — to spend a lot, you’re in luck. There are many ways to spruce up your home for the holidays without spending a fortune. Click through for some ideas to get you started on creating inexpensive yet festive Christmas decorations.
1. Decorate With Faux Wrapped Gifts
Who says the only place for Christmas gifts is under a tree? Empty boxes wrapped up festively can pack a real punch and brighten up a room when decorated with bows and ribbon. Stack boxes near the fireplace, hang a few on the walls or make a tower of faux presents and use it as a centerpiece.
Another option is to use actual gifts as holiday decorations. Then, on Christmas morning, you can organize a fun scavenger hunt for your kids to hunt down the family’s presents. They’ll enjoy running around the house, and you won’t need to take down so many decorations when it’s time to clean up.
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2. Repurpose Wrapping Paper
If you have extra wrapping paper, consider using it to create unique holiday decor for your house.
Repurpose the art on your walls for the holidays by taking wrapping paper and cutting out borders for paintings. Then frame the pictures for instant holiday decor. Don’t forget to top it off with a bow to complete the festive look.
3. Use Your Children’s Old Toys
Toys are another unique way to decorate for the holidays. Catherine Alford, a finance blogger who operated Budget Blonde, has said she uses her children’s toys, like a nativity scene they received as a gift, to decorate.
Although some toys are designed for Christmas and will fit easily in holiday displays, non-Christmas-themed toys can also work. Your children might have old toys they no longer use but have special meaning to you and them. Try turning these toys into Christmas tree decorations by attaching a hook or string. An old train set for the base of the tree is another great decoration.
4. Find Materials Outdoors
If you want to get really frugal, grab a jacket and head outside. Branches can make for wonderful Christmas displays, said Lauren Greutman, a frugal living expert.
“Simply go outside and collect some thin branches and spray paint them white. Place them in a heavy vase and decorate with lights, tinsel and/or Christmas ornaments,” she said.
Glitter can also work quite nicely. There’s really no wrong way to jazz up these branches, so let your imagination run free.
Pine cones are a nice alternative to branches. Your kids can decorate them to look like reindeer, or you can wrap them in battery-operated string lights that will light up your mantle, or use them as Christmas table decorations.
5. Shop at the Dollar Store
Although you probably shouldn’t buy toys from the dollar store, it’s the place to shop for Christmas decorations. The store offers staples like candles and vases, plus discount seasonal items.
“Use the dollar store as an inspiration for your holiday centerpiece,” said Greutman. “Pick up some vases, pebbles and tea light candles for an inexpensive decoration piece. Then place on a plate and surround with holiday ornaments for an extra special flair.”
As you’re there, snatch up other items that can be used for holiday displays, like ribbons and pre-made bows, holiday stickers and more.
6. Make Ice Lanterns
Glowing lanterns on the front doorstep of your home can add a nice touch for Christmas, weather permitting. The best part is they are quite simple to make. You can likely find the materials you’ll need in your kitchen:
Plastic container, such as Tupperware
Candle, such as a tea light or pillar
To make the lantern, fill the container with water. Place the plastic cup in the center of the container and weigh it down. Put the container in the freezer. Once frozen, run the container under warm water to loosen the mold. Pop out the cup and mold. Place a candle inside and your display is complete.
If you live in a warmer climate, you can achieve a similar look by filling containers, jars or vases with Epsom salt or rocks and placing a candle inside.
7. Decorate With Ornaments and Handmade Crafts
Over the years, your collection of Christmas ornaments will likely grow. Whether gifted or bought impulsively, you could end up with too many ornaments to decorate your tree. So with the excess, string together the ornaments with a colorful ribbon and hang them over a doorway, across the fireplace or above a window.
If you have craft paper or even coffee filters, grab scissors and create snowflakes. You can find templates online for free. You can then display them in a window or string them along and use as a garland. This can be a fun project for the entire family.
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8. Reuse Bottles, Cans and Jugs
If you look around your home, you’ll likely find more than a thing or two that can be repurposed for Christmas decorating. If nothing jumps out at you right away, here’s what to look for: Empty wine bottles can be painted in Christmas colors and used as vases for flower arrangements. Paint bottles into Rudolph or Santa, or spell out thoughtful words like “joy.”
Tin cans and milk jugs also work well to create Christmas characters like Frosty. Paint a tin can white and use construction paper and buttons to make a smiling snowman. If you use a milk jug, add string lights so your decoration glows warmly.
9. Use Your Kid’s Artwork
Children make a ton of holiday-themed crafts at school. Start saving those items and repurpose each year for your Christmas display.
You can either designate a particular wall of your home to show off the artwork or hang them throughout the house. Some crafts might even go nicely on the tree. Your kid’s artwork will make for great conversation pieces with family over the holidays and add a personal touch to your decor.
10. Get Cooking
From gingerbread houses to candy canes, plenty that you might already be planning to bake or stock the kitchen with can do double duty as decor. Have a fun afternoon baking a gingerbread house with your kids, and then deck the halls with their frosting- and candy-covered creations. Candy canes that might come home with your kids from school or from holiday swaps at the office can deck candles and mantle garlands alike. Another great option is to stick oranges with nutmeg cloves — the house will smell like Christmas from the minute you walk in.
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11. Use Extra Bows
If you have extra bows from your holiday gift wrapping, there are countless ways you can repurpose them to add a festive flair to your home. One especially cheery option is to create a wreath out of extra bows. Simply glue the bows to a Styrofoam or wire wreath, which you can easily make for yourself. Bonus points if you make them in Christmas colors of red and green.
12. Tie Ribbons Around Everything
Yards and yards of ribbon can be purchased inexpensively from craft stores like Michaels or even a dollar store. Once you’re stocked up, tie ribbons around everything from dining room chairs to kitchen appliances to give everyday activities the feel of opening a present. And although Christmas colors red and green are excellent options, also consider metallic silver and gold, along with gentle, snowy white, for festive and elegant alternatives.
13. Make Paper Chains
Instead of buying an Advent calendar, get your kids into the holiday spirit by making a paper chain with them. All you’ll need is plain white or brightly colored construction paper, scissors and tape.
Cut the paper into thin strips and then tape one strip into a circle. Loop another strip around it, and tape the second circle shut. Keep going until you have enough paper chain to string all throughout the house — or at least to keep kids in suspense pulling one loop off every day until Christmas.
14. Display Your Holiday Cards
When holiday cards start coming in from friends and family, don’t just toss them in a basket or in a pile. Use the beautiful cards as decor to liven up your mantel, a wreath or even a mirror. Hang a thin wire or length of twine across a mirror or a window, and hang or pin holiday cards off the wire. It’s a great way to remind yourself of the people you love the most on a daily basis during the holiday season.
Elizabeth Nicholas contributed to the reporting for this article.