7 easy and creative last-minute Christmas decor ideas to deck the halls in style

Need to give your home a festive makeover in a time crunch? We've got you sorted

Living room with decorated Christmas tree, presents, and cushions
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Having to resort to last-minute Christmas decor ideas isn't the ideal situation, but it can feel inevitable thanks to how hectic the run-up to the festive season can be.

However, rest assured that there are still plenty of Christmas ideas you can get stuck into that are easy to achieve and guaranteed to give off the impression that you spent a lot more time on it than you actually did.

Better yet, a lot of them are budget friendly and involve making use of what you already have to hand so you won't have to break the bank to get that last-minute festive magic.

Last-minute Christmas decor ideas

We aren't alone when it comes to the hectic Christmas decorating department. Research from this year's John Lewis Festive Traditions Tracker found that 15% of people leave their Christmas shopping to the last minute.

'With Christmas under a week away, sales of Christmas decorating essentials are all up, as the last of us get ready for the festive break,' they report. Everything from pre-lit artificial Christmas trees, boxed baubles, room decorations, indoor Christmas lights, and more.

But, if you're not keen on the idea of frantically dashing to the shops over the next couple of days there are plenty of ways you can shop your home for the festive season and nail your Christmas living room decor ideas – even in a time crunch.

Neutral living room filled with Christmas decorations

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

1. Embrace jewel tones and metallics

'Christmas is often associated with decadence; ruby reds, emerald greens, and deep blues all give a feel of luxury and warmth,' begins Laura Rich, interiors and style expert at home furniture store, Furniturebox.

If you've previously embraced this colour trend in your home, then decorating for Christmas is as easy as making use of your existing soft furnishings and accessories in these decadent tones.

'If you already have a large jewel-toned piece of furniture, you've won half the battle!' says Laura. 'Leave it uncovered and add metallic accessories around the room to complement it.'

'Depending on the colour of the item, brass or silver lamps, ornaments, bowls, and even books can be a subtle addition to create the illusion of festive decor.'

Living room with real Christmas tree and pink sofa.

(Image credit: Future)

2. Make use of what's in your kitchen

When shopping your home a good place to check is the kitchen, thanks to the tradition of using dried oranges for decorations. If you don't already have any in your fruit basket, they're quick enough to get a hold of and dry in your oven or air fryer

'Dried orange slices can help you make beautiful garlands, but they'll also give your home an inviting citrus scent,' says Laura. This is a great way to make your home smell nice without candles this winter.

Shop your spice rack while you're in the kitchen, too. 'Combining oranges, cloves and cinnamon sticks is a simple way to create fragrant centrepieces for your living and dining room.' 

Dried orange slices on garland hanging from marble mantelpiece

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

3. DIY paper decorations

DIY paper Christmas decorations have also been one of the biggest trends to come out of this year's Christmas tree trends and among seasonal decor alike.

'You don't have to be a crafting pro to get involved with this decor idea,' assures Kelly Collins, Swyft's interior designer. 'DIY paper garlands and decorations can be a great, budget-friendly way to elevate your Christmas decor look this year.'

'If you're into keeping the season sustainable, consider wrapping paper offcuts to make your paper decorations.'

Christmas star decorations and staircase garland

(Image credit: Future PLC)

4. Utilise natural resources

Looking for the quickest and easiest way to get cheap and last-minute Christmas decorations? Just pop to your garden or nearest park.

'Bringing nature into your home can be a quick and affordable way to add festivity to a room,' says Laura. Everything from branches, conkers, pine and dried leaves. You can even consider trimming some sprigs from your Christmas tree.

Not only can you use these foraged bits and bobs to make your own Christmas wreath, but they also make for a formidable Christmas table centrepiece idea as far as tablescapes go.

Dining room with decorated tablescape and hanging paper Christmas decorations

(Image credit: Future PLC)

5. Personalised baubles

Decorating your Christmas tree doesn't have to be complicated. Why not consider adding some flair and getting stuck into some easy DIY Christmas decor ideas, like personalising your baubles? This way, you don't have to brave the last-minute Christmas queues to get a new look this season.

'If you've got existing baubles that are looking a bit dated, upcycling them is a much more sustainable way of refreshing your Christmas decor repertoire,' says Kelly. 

'Create your design with traditional festive colours of green, red, gold, or silver. If you're feeling like a bolder look this Christmas, consider colourful stripes, spots, and Christmas motifs.'

Dining room with decorated tablescape and decorated Christmas tree and presents

(Image credit: Future PLC)

6. Christmas tree alternatives

On that note, if you happen to be so last-minute with your decorating that you haven't even managed to pick up a Christmas tree (trust us, it happens) don't fret. While it may not be the most traditional route, rest assured that there are plenty of Christmas tree alternatives that'll still capture the festive magic.

'If you have strong plants that can hold decorations, this can be a fun alternative,' suggests Laura. 'Christmas cacti – especially the larger ones – are becoming more commonplace.' This is fantastic news considering a handful of us are likely caring for a Christmas cactus as we speak.

'But there's equally nothing to stop you from grabbing your massive Monstera and adorning it with tinsel stands,' she continues. 'Just be sure to use lightweight decorations that won't damage your foliage.'

Living room with decorated Christmas tree, presents, and cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC)

7. Last-minute lighting

Of course, as with any of our interiors, lighting makes a huge impact – and unsurprisingly, Christmas time is no different. This means avoiding turning on 'the big light' at all costs.

'If you want to go from sitting room to soirée, try creating pools of light,' begins Simon Ribchester, head of design at home renovation platform, Beams. 'Instead of just blasting a whole room, use multiple lights to each cast a glow over a small area and to complement your Christmas tree.'

Think reading lights, fairy lights (like these from Amazon), festoon bulbs, or even a collection of your best Christmas candles. As a general rule of thumb, keep these all warm-toned to ensure you nail that cosy Christmassy feel.

'Consider playing with lights at different heights, as this will create a layered, dynamic effect and create a luxe, boutique hotel feel.'

Decorated Christmas tree in a country style brown living room, white sofa, cushions, fireplace, lit fire, decorated mantelpiece, large mirror, coffee table. Pub Orig

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Blackmore Photography Ltd)

And just like that, you're well on your way to nailing your last-minute Christmas decor ideas – and we're confident that you'll pull it off so well, that your guests won't even know it was a panicked Christmas Eve-Eve job.

Happy holidays!

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.