Decorate for Christmas on a Budget: 7 Money-Saving Ideas

woman making wreath
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The holidays can be an extremely expensive time of year between buying gifts, entertaining and traveling — and inflation has made this year even more expensive than usual. The majority of Americans (26%) expect to spend $100 to $300 more during the holidays this year than last year, a recent GOBankingRates survey found.

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One area where you can cut down on spending to account for extra expenses elsewhere is decorating. You don’t need to spend a lot to make your home festive for the holidays.

Whether you repurpose things you already have around the house, purchase less expensive decor or go the DIY route, there are plenty of ways to decorate for Christmas on a budget.

Make the Most of Holiday-Colored Decor You Already Have

“Look around your home and collect any object that is red, green or gold, or whatever color matches your holiday color palette,” said Beth Martin, a design expert specializing in unique and quirky residential and retail design. “I love using picture frames, vases, candles, travel collections and books to add pops of color to layered vignettes around my house.”

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Utilize Ornaments for More Than Just Your Tree

Basic ornaments tend to be inexpensive, so stock up on them to utilize all around your home.

“Clustering groups of inexpensive Christmas ornaments will add a bit of sparkle to your room with minimal effort,” Martin said. “Fill bowls on your coffee table or sideboard to add a touch of holiday to any space.”

Take Our Poll: How Has Inflation Impacted Your Holiday Shopping Plans?

Deck the Halls With Construction Paper Santa Hats

“If you have a lot of artwork or photos in your home, you can easily make Santa hats or reindeer antlers out of construction paper and attach them to the glass,” Martin said. “Now all your photos are instantly Christmas-ready. This simple and cheeky idea is a clever and unexpected way to add some holiday spirit to your existing space. It’s also a fun DIY to do with your little ones!”

Buy Thrifted Decorations

Avoid paying full price for decor by buying used items.

“Look for unique items at second-hand stores or yard sales,” said Inez Stanway, owner of the craft platform Live Laugh Create.

Focus on High-Impact Areas

You might be tempted to decorate every room in your home, but this can get costly.

“Focus on a few key areas that will really make an impact,” Stanway said. “A beautifully decorated mantelpiece or front door will make a big impression without costing a lot of money.”

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Bring the Outdoors In

You can likely find some free decor courtesy of Mother Nature.

“Use natural materials like branches, pine cones and berries to create festive centerpieces and wreaths,” said Kate Diaz, co-owner of the home decor site Swanky Den.

Stock Up on Ribbon

If you splurge on one decor item this year, make it ribbon, as it’s extremely versatile.

“There are a multitude of beautiful ribbons available today in nearly any color or design style, and at a variety of price points,” said Pamela O’Brien, principal designer with Pamela Hope Designs. “Splurge on a few spools of show-stopping ribbon and fill in with less expensive solid colors to complement it. Twirl and tuck ribbons among the branches on your tree, into your wreaths and sprays, and anyplace needing a little holiday cheer.”

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Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,025 Americans ages 18 and older from across the country between Oct. 17 and Oct. 21, 2022, asking 18 questions: (1) Do you plan on spending more or less on holiday shopping this year?; (2) With the current state of inflation, how much more do you expect to spend on holiday shopping this year?; (3) What is your favorite place to shop for the holidays?; (4) Do you have to change any of the following holiday traditions this year due to rising costs?; (5) Where do you do the majority of your holiday shopping?; (6) How much do sales factor into your holiday shopping?; (7) How much time do you take off from work during the holidays?; (8) How much would you typically spend on a gift for a family member?; (9) How much would you typically spend on a gift for a friend?; (10) Where have you noticed rising prices for holiday shopping/expenses this year? (Select all that apply); (11) When did you start or plan to start your holiday shopping this year?; (12) As the holiday season approaches, which of the following applies to you?; (13) How much do you plan to spend exclusively on gifts this holiday season?; (14) How much do you plan to spend on travel during the holidays?; (15) Who do you tip for the holiday season?; (16) Do you tip extra to service workers (food delivery, Uber, hairdresser, etc.) during the holidays?; (17) What is the primary way you plan on paying for your holiday spending?; and (18) What holiday purchases do you make at the dollar store? (Select all that apply). GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the poll.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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