Holiday Decorating on a Budget

I have been in the design industry for over 17 years and one thing I have learned is to be unique. Work your mind!  Living in the close vicinity of Santa Claus, Indiana has made me do exactly that.  Anything Christmas, these people have seen!  So, in knowing that, I am always having to stretch my imagination during the holidays.  The people of this community are almost in competition with each other to ensure every year that their home is “top of the line” in holiday décor.  But, being in a small community, there is always a budget to work on.  In this article I would like to share with you some ideas I have used over the years for making spectacular holiday displays on a small budget.

Use that odds and ends box!  We all have them. The odds and ends box is the one box that is left after all of our holiday goodies have been unpacked and placed on the tree or around our home. Usually you will find stray strands of garland, lights, odd ornaments, and maybe a few keepsake items that no longer match our décor but mean something to us.  Don’t put that box back in the closet just yet!  Stray strands of garland can always find a home atop an empty mantel.  It doesn’t matter if they match. This will give your look some depth. 

After placing your pieces of greenery across your mantel, give them an “uneven” look.  Everything doesn’t have to be asymmetrical.  Make some strands hang lower than others in different areas, then add your lights.  After you have your garland base, then go back through and add your treasures!  Odd glass balls of different colors and shapes make the prettiest displays.  Tuck them in and around your garland. You can even hang a few from the garland strands if you wish.

Now it’s time to add your wonderful accents such as candlesticks of different heights, collectibles such as odd pieces of crystal, figurines…anything you wish. Any stray pieces of ribbon can also find a beautiful home woven through your wonderful display.

Make wonderful live displays for your holiday get togethers!  These displays, of course, are not lasting but make a wonderful impression for parties. Make a trip to your local florist and purchase a few base elements such as fresh white hydrangeas.  These are not in season but can be gotten from your local florist at any time of the year.  If you have a little more budget to use, also purchase a bunch or two of pepper berry.  Make sure you ask the florist to provide water tubes as these will be out of water for the entire evening and you will want them to stay fresh. Using a bare tree with only white lights, start adding your hydrangea stems. tucking them into open spots on your tree.  If you opted for the pepper berry also, also tuck it into the empty spots and let it drape down your tree.

Fill in with wonderful additions that can be found at your grocery store or quite possibly in your backyard!  Wild growing sumac is a beautiful accent for decorating at Christmas time and the best part is, it’s free! Usually found growing along the sides of the road, it’s deep red color makes a wonderful addition to your holiday decorating. Use fresh fruit, such as strands of grapes. You may “lay” these items into your tree or use taped florist wire to anchor them. Again I will remind you to use your imagination. There are no boundaries as to what “has” to be used to decorate a tree.  Fashion “birds nests” from simple Spanish moss. Twine grapevine in wild designs throughout the tree.  Pinecones are plentiful. Spray them with gold craft paint for an added touch. Use outdoor ivy from your own yard. It lasts a surprisingly long time indoors and is beautiful twined throughout your tree or as a base for a beautiful table centerpiece. The possibilities are endless.

Lastly, make your guests feel welcome.  A couple of years ago I fashioned some little “sachets” for a holiday party out of a few sprigs of cedar, a little piece of pepper berry and a small gold ribbon.  I placed them in the ladies room in a basket with a little handmade sign that read “please help yourself to a sachet”.  Everyone there commented on how wonderful it was to have a little sachet to take home as a token of the evening!

I hope this article has lent some insight into your holiday decorating this year. I am also the owner of a wonderful home décor store,  Stop by and visit our online store for more wonderful decorating ideas and subscribe to our “In Design” newsletter for decorating tips all year round!

Article by Sharla Harding of