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.
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.'
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.'
3. DIY paper decorations
'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.'
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.
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.'
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.'
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.'
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.
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Jullia Joson is Ideal Home’s Junior Writer. She’s always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2022. Previously, she was an Intern Editor for ArchDaily. Now focused on news stories, Jullia can be found down the TikTok and Pinterest rabbit hole scrolling through any new and upcoming trends, hacks, and home inspiration.
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