Christmas Decorating Tips! + Budget-Friendly Ideas

Christmas! The most wonderful time of the year! If that is true, then why do some of get so stressed out? It doesn't have to be that way.

I asked some of you on Instagram and Facebook what struggles you faced when decorating for Christmas, or some things you wish you knew. I received so many great questions! I put together an Instagram TV video talking about the decor in my own home, but since there were so many great questions I thought I would answer them here in one post.

One of the biggest tips I can share is BEFORE you start planning your decor or actually decorating is to select different, designated areas of your home to decorate. I talked a bit about this in my fall decorating post as well as my IGTV video. I have a few designated areas in my home that I decorate for the holidays, I DON'T decorate the entire house. This keeps decorating from being too overwhelming or cluttered. Not to mention this helps keep decorating budget friendly!

By far the most common question and the one I want to address in most of this post was:

How do I decorate for Christmas on a budget? And how do I make inexpensive decorations look classy and not tacky?

ONE | I think the trick to this is knowing where to purchase decor items and when. I get a lot of my decor from thrift stores, Michaels, Joann, TJ Maxx / HomeGoods, and Target (basically all the places I look for general home decor during any given season). If I have something in mind that is special or unique, I like to pick that up at a boutique or small business and I don't have a problem spending a little extra money on this item.

NEVER, I repeat NEVER buy decor full price. Michaels and Joann usually always have 50-60% off sales on their decor. If they're not having a sale and you see something you just have to have there is always a coupon available. Look one up online while you're waiting your turn at the check-out!

TWO | Collect items throughout the year, instead of purchasing a haul of decor all at once at the beginning of the season. I have actually purchased most of my Christmas decor the day-week after Christmas when everything goes on clearance. The first year we were married I didn't have very much decor. Over the past few years I've slowly collected a few things each season that I continue to reuse. I finally feel like I'm at a point where I have enough decor to make due. When I shop at thrift stores during other times of the year, I keep my eye out for items that I could use in holiday decorating. I don't limit myself to looking specifically for Christmas items. I look for anything and everything that would match my Christmas decor theme (see #3 below). A red 4th of July basket with stars on it might look super cute holding your Christmas cards, for instance. Also, remember to use what you already have… one of the most budget-friendly ideas ever! I have a lot of "everyday" items that I use in my holiday decorating such as: candles/candlesticks, lanterns, table runners, glassware, vases, cake stands (for height), and string lights. I use things like pinecones and branches in both my fall and Christmas decor. Decorating with natural elements is another great way to keep things budget friendly.

THREE | Pick a theme. Our home is a 1920s traditional style home, so the classic red & green Christmas color scheme works well. I also started collecting classic Christmas items when I first started gathering decor and plan to continue this "theme" for the time being. I think it's wasteful and not very budget friendly to change up my decor scheme every year. You definitely don't have to stick to the traditional Christmas decor! Maybe your home would benefit from a more neutral style Christmas or maybe a bright colored Christmas would satisfy both you and the kids. Choose a theme that matches your home's style but ultimately choose a theme that makes you feel festive! There really are no hard rules. I've rounded up a few inspiration ideas for different Christmas decorating themes over on Pinterest to get you started!

FOUR | Share decor. Chances are you have someone in your life who could part with a portion of their abundance of Christmas decor. This year I'm letting a friend of mine borrow a few decor items that I'm not using. I am also decluttering some of my decor and I'm letting another friend look through those things to pick what she wants before I donate them. Ask older friends to keep you in mind if they are ever decluttering decorations. Sharing or swapping decor with friends is a great (and free!) way to add a few more items to your decorating. You could even host a small decor exchange party with friends & make it even more fun by also sharing ideas!

FIVE | Get nostalgic! When I got married, my mom gifted me a small box of some of my favorite Christmas decorations from when I was a child. If there are nostalgic items you'd love to use in your own home, ask your parent(s) if they'd be willing to let you have those items. I've already told my mom that if she ever decides to part with her red wooden bead garland for the tree then I have first dibs! Balance out some of the nostalgic or vintage decor with more modern items. Choosing vintage items are are neutral in color is easier to mix in with newer decor.

A note on DIY: I personally don't DIY a lot of things. I think, depending on which DIY project you are trying, these can be more expensive than if you were to just purchase a similar decor item. I was hoping to DIY a wood bead garland this season & when I priced everything out I figured the DIY cost would be close to $60. On sale, I can get a similar wood bead garland for less than $20. I also just don't have a lot of extra time in my life to work on DIY projects right now. The holiday season can be crazy enough as it is, not DIYing is one of the ways I stay sane this time of year. That may be different for you and that's totally okay! All that being said, I've rounded up a few fun looking DIY projects and ideas on Pinterest for inspiration.

A note on simplifying: I LOVE decorating for Christmas. It's by far my favorite time of year to decorate. I usually take a week or two (off & on) to do all of the decorating. I play Christmas music, drink warm beverages, and enjoy the process. Because of this, it's easy for me to get carried away. In the case of Christmas decor, less is more. This year I really pared down my decorating (especially my mantle). I have about 2-3 rubbermaid bins of Christmas decor and this year I have only used one in all my decorating. I feel good about this and the best part is there is less to put away when it's time to take everything down!

A note on decorating with kids: Someone asked about how to bring child and adult ideas of decorating together. She mentioned that her idea of classy decorating and her 5 year-old's idea are very different! I can't speak to this too much since we don't have children, but I can share some ideas from my own childhood as well as a few traditions that I want to incorporate when our family does grow.

Get them involved. While this may seem counterintuitive, ultimately children just want to be involved in whatever you're doing. Growing up, my parents always made decorating the Christmas tree a big event. We'd plan to spend a day and go pick out a tree together. My parents would get us involved in decorating the actual tree and my mom would always make a snack tray. We'd listen to Christmas music and decorate. It was a fun way to spend the day as a family. I remember my mom doing a lot of the other decorating herself, but decorating the tree was our thing we got to help with. Maybe there is a task you can give your children as you're decorating. Such as, putting the bows on the wreath or hanging the garland on the mantle or sorting the ornaments into color groups. My mom also used to keep a shoebox of non-breakable ornaments for each of us that she asked us to put on the tree when we were very young. She never cared where they went on the tree and we felt like big kids as we had our “own” ornaments. (This required a bit of pre-planning when putting the ornaments away at the end of every season!)

Give them something of their own. Growing up, I had a small tabletop Christmas tree in my room. I had a shoebox of my own decorations and I was allowed to decorate that tree (and my room) however I wanted. Maybe let your kids have free reign of decorating their room? If your kids share a room, break the room up into small areas for each of them. Or encourage them to work together to create a festive space! For smaller children, I love this idea to create a decoration of their own (you could also use a mason jar or something unbreakable). Allow them to fill the space however they want. You then have a contained project to display and mix in with your adult decor. If you have multiple children, it can be fun to see what they each come up with. Remember, let them be creative even if it makes you cringe a bit!

And finally, on a related note… the best advice I can give to feel less stressed is... do what makes you happy! You may give yourself permission to do the things you LOVE to do and that bring you joy… and stop doing the things that don't. Ask your family what is important to them. Get them involved. Do those things. And then relax and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year!

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