Americans spent about $200 on holiday decorations last year! To the rescue: FIRST polled decorating pros on how to make your home merry and bright — on a shoestring!
Add flair with dollar-store basics.
“Garland at the dollar store looks no different than the kind you buy at big-box stores, but it costs much less! So load up on it and wrap it on a banister or mantel. You can also find paint, glitter, sequins, and glass jars. Pluck acorns, twigs, and leaves from the yard, paint them silver, gold, green, or red and sprinkle with glitter, then hang them on the garland or Christmas tree or place on the mantel.”
—Zakiyya Rosebelle, SweetLittleLuxuries.com
Make your home smell holiday happy.
“When prepping for holidays, smell is actually at the top of my checklist. I spritz a homemade rosemary-almond spray, but you can make any scent you wish. The easy recipe: Mix 2 Tbs. of witch hazel and 8 drops of pure rosemary, cinnamon, pine or frankincense essential oil in a 4 oz. bottle; fill with distilled water. Two or three spritzes will freshen up any room for pennies!”
—Interior designer Charmaine Wynter, owner of WynterInteriors.com
Get creative with festive gift wrap.
“One way to spend less on holiday décor is enhancing what you have with simple holiday embellishments. Wrap any size box in cute holiday paper and place the wrapped packages all over your house. You can find a great selection of affordable holiday wrapping paper and bows in the dollar bins at Target or use up leftover paper from last year.”
—Krista Fabregas, shopping and retail analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com
Choose double-duty décor.
“Holiday-themed centerpieces can cost $50 or more. But adding a little sparkle to your table with dollar-store votive candles and seasonal fresh citrus, apples, pears, pomegranates, and nuts is not only cheaper, it adds a glow that makes your whole house look more festive! Plus, you can put them to use in recipes later. I like to make groupings of fruit of all sizes on the table and place votives between them for a stunning centerpiece.”
—Designer Sara Cannon, HouseHeroes.com
Put old Christmas cards to use.
“To make your house look festive without spending a ton, simply turn Christmas cards into holiday décor. You can place a card in a glass jar so the front of the card is pressing against the glass — it looks like a snow globe of sorts — and display it on a mantel. Or drape tinsel on your mantel or on a staircase banister and clip the cards to it with clothespins. You can also make a Christmas tree by taping the cards on the wall in a tree shape and making a star out of paper.”
Freshen up with new pillow covers.
“You can absolutely transform your home during the holidays on a shoestring budget! One idea is to grab a few gently used Christmas sweaters. If you don’t have any, visit a thrift store — they’ll have plenty of options for a couple of bucks each. Then just pin the neck of the sweater closed, pull the sleeves inside the sweater and pin them in place. Next, slide the ‘body’ of the sweater over throw pillows or dining chairs and pin it closed at the bottom. This will really brighten up your home on a dime!”
—Terry Grahl, EnchantedMakeovers.org
Nab a tree for a rock-bottom price.
“Going to a tree lot with neighbors or friends can score you up to $20 off. That’s because tree lots are more willing to negotiate if you buy more than one tree, especially if you pay cash. Also, consider the type of tree: Scotch pines are usually cheaper than balsam firs since they are more widely grown and generally don’t have to be shipped as far.”
—Courtney Jesperson, NerdWallet.com
Snap up decorative ribbon here.
“Colorful ribbon is one of the least expensive and most versatile ways to add holiday pop to your home—it instantly makes your existing décor more festive! My favorite tip: You can find inexpensive rolls of holiday ribbon online at Papermart.com, NashvilleWraps.com and Save-onCrafts.com. These websites, which cater to event planners and decorators, offer unbeatable prices on decorative items—for example, you can get 25-yard spools of wired ribbon for up to 50 percent below retail prices. Recently, I spotted 100 yards of emerald-green satin ribbon at NashvilleWraps.com priced at just $5.50 — a similar spool might cost as much as $12 at a craft store!”
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.