How to Save Money on Christmas Decor

Show your holiday spirit without busting your budget with these ideas.

Tomato Cage Christmas Trees

Tomato Cage Christmas Trees

Existing garden items, such as a tomato cage, can be repurposed for the holidays with mesh and ornaments.

Photo by: Photo courtesy of The Home Depot

Photo courtesy of The Home Depot

Existing garden items, such as a tomato cage, can be repurposed for the holidays with mesh and ornaments.

The beauty of Christmas is that natural elements create the most gorgeous decorations. And better yet, some can be cheap or even free.

Essential items can be plucked from gardens and yards, or before driving off the tree lot. Designers and others shared four frugal ways to freshen up your holiday look at home.

Clip away: Berry trees are beautiful during the holidays, so add some of the berries from your yard (or a friendly neighbor's yard) into a wreath or arrangement for no cost, says Danielle Rollins, author of Soiree: Entertaining with Style and an Atlanta interior designer. Even if shapely, sturdy flowers aren’t in bloom, they can be bursting with possibility. Cut the stems of dry hydrangeas or magnolias and then spray paint them in traditional red and green holiday hues, metallics or another color palette you've chosen for the holidays (such as corals and lime green).

For a an affordable arrangement, Virginia designer Jennifer Schweikert, owner of Just My Style by JMS, spray painted sedum blooms a deep red (to look like berries) and painted some of her neighbor’s dried hydrangeas white with a touch of glitter. “They’re strong and they’re dramatic,” she says.

Merry and Bright

Merry and Bright

A planter gets a holiday update with dried hydrangeas spray-painted white and sedums painted deep red to look like berries.

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Just My Style by JMS

Photo courtesy of Just My Style by JMS

A planter gets a holiday update with dried hydrangeas spray-painted white and sedums painted deep red to look like berries.

Gather fallen tree boughs: Branches are scattered over Christmas tree lots, adding up as more trees are sold and given fresh cuts. Jeff Bowman, owner of Tradition Trees in Atlanta, says he’s always happy to give people as many branches and tree cuttings as they desire. “People can always do real simple decorations with the branches,” he says.  

The boughs can be placed along a mantle, amid stocking holders, lanterns or holiday decor that you already own. Or wire them together to create swags for stairs and mailboxes. The branches alone – devoid of greenery – can be transformed into a wintery white, by simply dipping them in paint.

Scour the ground: Last year, my elementary-age son and his friends hunted around our neighborhood for the biggest pine cones they could find, all for my festive dining room centerpiece. Those “new” pine cones joined a couple of oversized pine cones that my mother-in-law discovered in her attic. Although decades old, those hand-me-down pine cones—some of which were painted silver—were still in good shape and added depth to my display. 

Do you have leftover materials from a recent patio, fire pit, fireplace or porch project? If so, use those bricks, concrete blocks or stone in a temporary way for the holidays. Those items can be stacked up to create a tree form, with lights within them, Schweikert says. 

Use existing tree-like items: Look at a ladder or tomato cage with the holidays in mind, and you’ll discover different uses for them. You can transform the conical items into creative trees. A tomato cage can be covered in branches, lights, mesh and ornaments, to display at your front door, on a porch or in an outdoor kitchen area. For example, you can string the rungs of the ladder with lights and decorate with metallic ornaments, for an industrial vibe.

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