20 Ways to Decorate for the Holidays on a Budget

Deck out your home for the holidays without breaking the bank with our creative ideas, crafts and upcycling projects.

Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.
August 13, 2019

Photo By: Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Rennai Hoefer

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Photo By: Rennai Hoefer

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Sam Henderson

Photo By: Photo by Sam Henderson

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: David Christensen

Display Holiday Cards + Gifts

Instead of spending money on store-bought decor, work with two things you probably already have on hand — holiday cards and wrapped gifts. Not only will this help cheer up a dull spot in your home, but it will also keep your mail pile from overflowing and your Christmas tree base from overcrowding. Here, a tree-shaped cardholder is stacked on a gift-filled bar cart, adding holiday cheer to an otherwise basic foyer.

Get Creative With Gift Wrap Scraps

Don’t throw away those seemingly useless scraps of gift wrap! Put them to work to give everyday items, like basic serving plates, a holiday makeover. Cut the leftover paper to size, and use it to line serveware. For a display that will last all season long, fill the festive dishes with holiday knickknacks or long-lasting snacks, like whole nuts or individually wrapped candies.

Upcycle Plastic Figurines

Whether they’re your kid’s old toys or your grandmother’s old decorations, inexpensive plastic figurines can become an elegant part of your holiday decor with a quick makeover. All you need is basic glue and German glass glitter to make these simple objects look high-end.

MAKE THIS: Give Old Holiday Decorations an Easy Glittering Makeover

Create Ice Lanterns

It doesn’t get much more affordable than this, friends. These shimmering ice lanterns only require water, plastic containers and a chill in the air. Make them as large or small as you’d like, and watch your front porch come to life without purchasing a thing.

MAKE THIS: How to Make an Ice Lantern

Make Your Own Pom-Pom Garlands

Dress up any spot in your home with the addition of a pom-pom garland or two. They’re easy enough for even kids to make, so set aside an afternoon for family crafting. Choose yarn in whatever color(s) you desire, grab a pair of scissors and a scrap piece of wood, and string together some holiday cheer.

MAKE THIS: Kids' Craft: Make a Pom-Pom Christmas Garland

Trim Your Tree With What You’ve Got

No ornaments? No problem. Head to the kitchen, and start scrounging. Here, dried orange slices, popcorn, inexpensive grocery store greenery, cranberries and cinnamon sticks bring a bare tree to life. String small objects together to create garland, and hang larger items directly on the tree.

Hang Ornaments All Around

Maybe you have plenty of ornaments and not enough tree. (Hey, we love a cute Charlie Brown tree!) Instead of letting those ornaments sit in storage, place them around the house. Hang them wherever you see an opportunity — whether that’s mounted antlers or a chandelier. You can also fill and display empty glass vases and hurricanes with festive ornaments to decorate tabletops and shelves.

Craft a Pinecone Garland

If you already have yarn or twine and white craft paint on hand, this DIY decoration only requires a quick trip to your backyard. Dip pinecones in white craft paint to create a dreamy, rustic garland perfect for your mantel, Christmas tree or dining table.

MAKE THIS: DIY Holiday Pinecone Garland

Bedazzle Backyard Finds

If glitter is more your style, try this pretty pinecone upgrade instead. Collect several pinecones, and clean them well under warm water. Roll each one in craft glue then glitter, and let them dry. Attach ribbon them with hot glue, and hang them from a chandelier or on your Christmas tree.

Fold Adorable Paper Trees

Dress up any tabletop on the cheap with the addition of a handmade forest. To make these fabulous firs, start with green card stock and a circle punch or scissors. Cut card stock into various sized circles. Next, accordion-fold the paper to create the look of evergreen boughs. Stack the folded rings, and attach them to a small wood dowel or log slice. Display your trees directly on a tabletop, or place them inside glass domes or cloches for added effect.

Make a Festive Upholstered Banner

A large banner is a great way to create a major impact on a minor budget. This beautiful, upholstered option is perfect for the craft lover. Chipboard letters are covered in pretty fabric to achieve a high-end look. Feeling extra crafty? Make some extra letters while you’re at it to reuse these beauties for birthdays, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter or any other occasion worth celebrating.

MAKE THIS: How to Make an Upholstered Holiday Banner

Make a Wood Slice Banner

If your decor leans more toward a rustic aesthetic, try this take instead. Cut your own wood slices to save some money, and follow our easy tutorial to customize them using permanent markers and transfer paper.

MAKE THIS: Christmas Craft: Rustic Wood Slice Banner

Skip the Christmas Tree

Let’s face it — Christmas trees are expensive. If it just isn’t in the budget this year, opt for this stylish, freshly-snipped alternative. Use shears to cut greenery from live evergreen trees from your backyard. Next, arrange the fresh cuts in a vase. Dress your Charlie Brown tree for the occasion with glossy baubles in your favorite holiday hues. Pile gifts beneath, and be sure to change the vase’s water every few days to keep the greenery looking its best.

Upcycle Old Sweaters Into Tabletop Trees

Put old holiday sweaters that are collecting dust to good use. These adorable tabletop trees are made from cork-backed foam core board and whatever festive fabric scraps you have on hand. They’re the perfect way to dress up a boring shelf or create an eye-catching tablescape.

MAKE THIS: Christmas Craft: Upcycled Tabletop Trees

Construct a Pinecone Christmas Tree

If you’re all out of old sweaters and fabric scraps, make this tabletop tree instead. You’ll need several pinecones from your backyard, a floral foam cone, wired floral picks and floral wire. You can use this rustic beauty year after year. Elevate its aesthetic by placing it on a cake stand and adorning it with a few glitzy ornaments.

MAKE THIS: Turn Pine Cones Into a Tabletop Christmas Tree

Craft a Snowflake Curtain

Got a printer, copy paper and some fishing line? Then you can make these whimsical winter curtains. They’re inexpensive, easy to make and can add seasonal flair to any window in your home. Plus, the kids will love an excuse for some family crafting time.

MAKE THIS: How to Make a Snowflake Curtain

Spell It Out

Holiday wreaths can be pricey. Try this playful twist on a standard wreath instead. Wrap sections of rope with fine-gauge wire, working it between the rope's twists. Next, shape into letters to spell out a favorite holiday sentiment. Finally, hang the letters from pretty, festive ribbon.

Make Your Own Mercury Glass

Transform plain glass vases, votives or jars into shimmering holiday decor in no time with our easy tutorial. This is a great way to take an unadorned mantel or dining table from drab to fab without breaking the bank.

MAKE THIS: Create Your Own Mercury Glass in Three Easy Steps

Construct a North Star Wall Hanging With Yardsticks

Turn basic wooden yardsticks and twigs from your yard into a beautiful holiday decoration. These woodsy wall adornments can add graphic impact to any wall in your home — interior or exterior — and they’re inexpensive to make.

MAKE THIS: Create a North Star Wall Hanging With Yardsticks

Create Vignettes Throughout Your Home

Decorating one room for the holidays is relatively easy, but decorating an entire home can feel like an impossibly difficult (and expensive!) task. Take it space by space, and remember that a little decor goes a long way. Rather than decking out rooms from head to toe, create small vignettes throughout your home using items you already have. Here, wrapped gifts are artfully displayed atop a wooly blanket, and a festive bow pairs with greenery to give a year-round canine statue a holiday upgrade.

Shop This Look