We’ve seen the houses that go all out on holiday decorating. Yes, they look gorgeous, but you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to have a beautiful holiday home. Armed with a few essentials, you can decorate like a holiday pro without the holiday pro budget.

First, hit the closest dollar store. It’s a treasure trove of inexpensive holiday decorating items and won’t break your bank. Next, let’s get creative.

Artificial Christmas Trees

Let’s start with your holiday decorating centerpiece: your Christmas tree. Have you considered an artificial tree? They’re a smart investment for budget decorating. The artificial Christmas trees available today look very real, come in a huge variety of sizes and store easily. Plus, they’re less of fire hazard and tend to be less messy, since they aren’t dropping leaves and don’t require daily watering. They’re also a winning money-saver year after year. Save yourself a trip to the tree lot during the busiest time of year!

Artificial Garland

Real pine and cedar garlands can be extremely costly to purchase year after year, but many homeowners don’t want to use artificial garlands since they can look so artificial. But by doubling or tripling up garlands and adding a small amount of natural greenery, you can get an extremely expensive look on a small budget.

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Craft Paper

Your tried-and-true colored school construction paper is the crafting equivalent of a blank slate. Because it’s a kid-friendly medium, you can enlist your little ones to help you make paper chain garland, snowflake cut-outs, and handprint wreaths. Some of our favorite decorations are the ones our kids have made over the years, which bring back fond memories of when they were little. Have them help you hang them or put them up and relive the time when they made the decorations for you.

Glass Ornaments

Clear glass ball-style ornaments aren’t expensive at all but are incredibly versatile. With nearly endless possibilities for dressing up these little workhorse ornaments, your tree will look elegant without dropping wads of cash. Fill the ornaments with tinsel, colorful wire-edged ribbon, faux pepper berries, and snow or glitter. It’s just as easy to decorate the outside with paint, glitter glue, ribbons or even fabric scraps.

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Alternative Gift Wrap Ideas

Brown paper bags, butcher paper, and even newsprint can make wonderful gift wrap. No need to spend money on rolls of gift wrap when there are so many affordable alternatives available.


Using fabric scraps, blankets and quilts that you already have around the house can create a warm and cozy holiday feeling without having to spend a lot of money. Textiles can be used as decor or even as gift wrap. Keep in mind that fabrics don’t have to have a specific holiday motif to feel festive. Solids, plaids and even stripes and polka dots can convey a festive feeling without the need for snowmen and Santas.

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Candy Canes

These are surprisingly versatile! Hang them on your tree, or get creative and make a poinsettia holder: Take an old can, glue candy canes around the perimeter with the hooks facing out, then tie with a ribbon and you have a beautiful red and white showcase for you holiday foliage. Another creative decorating idea is to glue candy canes to your favorite pillar candle. Quick and easy, this one dresses up your boring old pillar candles with candy cane cheer.

Garage/Estate Sales

I’ve found some amazing vintage holiday decor on my weekend hunts around garage and estate sales. One of my treasures is a 9-inch classic Nutcracker I purchased for five dollars at a nearby garage sale. Vintage ice skates, wagons, skis, and sleds are often available at thrift stores, and frequently you’ll even find sets of ornaments, lights, window decorations and more for a fraction of what you would pay retail. Plus, you have the added bonus of finding some truly unique and unusual items.

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Salt Dough and Gingerbread Ornaments

These ornaments are another kid-friendly endeavor. Mix four cups all-purpose flour, one cup of salt and one and a half cups warm water, then knead the dough well and roll it out. Use cookie cutters to create classic shapes or make your own. Bake at 325 degrees for about an hour until they are hard, then decorate away. Don’t forget to create a hole at the top so you can string the ornament for hanging. It’s perfect fun for a snowy or rainy afternoon when your kids are home! You can also use traditional gingerbread recipes (the type for building houses) to create sweet-smelling ornaments.

Nature’s Bounty

Pinecones can be amazing little holiday decor MVPs. They’re especially inexpensive when you live in a region with many evergreens. Take a trip to the park or even your backyard, scoop up as many as you like, and get creating. With ribbons, a glue gun, and your pinecones, you can create a beautiful door swag, hang smaller ones from your chandelier or even use them to spruce up your gift wrapping. If your area isn’t pinecone-rich, bags of pinecones in various sizes are available at craft stores.

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A beautifully decorated home doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Save your money for the gifts!

Guest post by Kim Six:  a DIY and home improvement blogger and a stay-at-home mom with three kids. Kim lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes online for The Home Depot. Kim especially enjoys making and writing about budget-friendly projects, including holiday decorations. To review more holiday decoration ideas, you can visit Home Depot online.

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