Grand decorating ambitions thwarted by a small home? It’s a tale sadder than Dicken’s Christmas Carol, and the reality for so many of us living in cities and the countryside alike. But while we can’t all live in a property like Kevin’s from Home Alone, Christmas can be just as fun on a smaller scale.
So, before you start drowning your sorrows in Mulled Wine, we’ve got plenty of inspiring budget Christmas decorating ideas to decorate small spaces for turkey season, without feeling like you’re living in Santa’s Grotto (on steroids). Luckily, embracing the festive spirit in a small home doesn’t require a complete overhaul. A little sparkle can go a seriously long way.
‘Simple touches and thoughtful additions can transform your space into a welcoming haven, whether you're cosying up with loved ones or hosting a festive gathering. These small changes can make a big difference in adding warmth and joy to small homes,’ says Glen Peskett, seasoned DIY professional at Saxton Blades.
Small space Christmas decorating ideas
If you’re lacking space, the thought of stuffing it with tinsel, baubles and a forest’s worth of evergreens may not be filling you with joy. On the plus side, the smaller the space, the less it will cost to decorate, which is definitely something worth smiling about.
Read on for our experts’ top ways to make small spaces pack plenty of festive punch.
1. Get cosy with candlelight
The gentle flicker of candlelight is very forgiving and can fast-track Christmas magic into the smallest of spaces. ‘Candles are a great addition to any small space to bring a cosy look and feel – and if you want to take it another step further, then a festive candle with a seasonal scent will ensure that you get the full Christmas feel,’ says Shelley Robinson, senior manager at B&M.
If you want to really go to town with the candles, and you absolutely should, or are planning to use them at low level, it’s wise to go for LED candles to avoid a Christmas-cancelling fire hazard.
2. Dec the hall
Extend your Christmas decorating beyond the living room and into hallway christmas decorating ideas to make a festive first impression when guests arrive. You don’t need a grand hall with huge spiral staircase to make a big impression – it’s all about making the most of every nook and niche to flood in that Christmas cheer.
‘We like to embrace the overlooked corners in smaller homes at Christmas and stairways offer the perfect opportunity to weave in sparkling fairy lights, leading the glow up every step,’ says Lou Graham, co-founder, Graham and Green.
3. Switch to a skinny tree
No space for a ceiling-touching Norway Spruce? A skinny scandi Christmas tree trend could be the answer. Aka slimline or pencil trees, these faux options are perfect for tucking into corners and alcoves.
‘Believe it or not, you can achieve a really luxe-look decor scheme with a thinner tree so sometimes big doesn't mean better. You can save money on decorations and lights for the tree too, as they don’t need nearly as many to dress,’ says Shaun Eldridge, senior buyer for Christmas at The Range.
4. Tap into tablescaping
Tablescaping isn’t just for Christmas Day, dressing your dining table ahead of turkey-time is an inspiring way to bring in the festive décor without taking up any additional space in the room ‘As the centre of so many Christmas celebrations, it makes complete sense to have your table set up with a fabulous table-scape scene throughout the entirety of December,’ agrees Jane Rockett, co-founder of Rockett St George.
Having your dining table party-ready throughout the festivities helps set the scene for the magic of the season and can save a lot of last-minute stress! ‘A foraged or floral centrepiece always creates impact so plenty of gorgeous greenery is essential. We also we love the idea of introducing vases overflowing with glamorous Christmas decorations and fairy lights for a more unconventional take on table-scaping. The more candles, fairy lights, glitter and glamour, the better,’ adds Jane.
5. Dress the ceilings
For small living room Christmas decorating ideas that won’t have any impact on the liveable areas in your home, the ceiling holds huge potential. Hanging paper lanterns, chains, stars and tissue pom poms is perhaps the most familiar way of dressing ceilings for the festive season. Anything lightweight, and pretty, is ripe for elevating the otherwise wasted space overhead.
In more recent years, suspending whole branches, ladders and other horizontal structures has become a big trend. This approach requires decent structural support to prevent the whole lot crashing down on the Christmas turkey, but because you’re bringing the decorations closer to eye-level, the results can be dazzling. Using clear Big Game fishing line to support your branch will create a floating illusion.
‘A suspended branch is best located above the table or other areas you won’t be walking under. Position it above eye-level when guests are seated so that it doesn’t disrupt sightlines during dinner conversations,’ adds Kris Manolo, Design Lead at Atkin and Thyme.
6. Work the walls
From outsized wreathes to creative Christmas card displays, even the smallest of homes have plenty of vertical surfaces that are prime candidates for a splash of Christmas cheer. For Christmas wall décor ideas with maximum festive feels, it’s hard to beat illuminated decorations. Atkin and Thyme are all over it with these sparkling LED ring lights, which are battery operated and suitable for use indoors and out.
‘Using minimal space but offering maximum fun, they can be moved from room to room as needed and decorated for instant wow factor and festive cheer,’ says Kris Manolo, Design Lead at Atkin and Thyme.
7. Bring out the mirrors
Positioning mirrors behind decorative displays will double the impact and add extra sparkle and joy to your small space Christmas decorating ideas. ‘Mirrors come into their own at Christmas, not only to properly make use of the mirror selfie opportunities with friends when entertaining, but mirrors will also give the illusion of more space and do all the hard work for you,’ says Camilla Lesser, of Essential Living.
‘If you normally have mirrors stored away in your bedroom or spare room, then it could be worth repositioning them in the main areas where you intend to host. Put them wherever possible, the more the merrier!’
8. Make a fireplace alternative
Small homes often lack that statement fireplace that sings ‘Santa is coming’, but you can recreate a similarly cosy scenario using a hearty garland, pinecones and plenty of twinkling fairy lights on any horizontal surface. ‘Even if you don’t have a fireplace, it’s still possible to create a festive mantle-style inspired look this Christmas,’ says Camilla Lesser of Essential Living. ‘Be fun and creative with the different surfaces in your home, utilising a sideboard, dresser, shelving or radiator to create a focal point for your festive displays.’
A great way to create the illusion of a festive-style mantelpiece is by draping garlands along the top edge of a surface – be that a shelving unit, cupboard or door frame. ‘You can use artificial or real greenery, depending on your preference. If you opt for artificial greenery, then try adding some scent sticks that smell like fir or pine to bring that Christmas smell into your home. Also, tuck in some fairy lights for added sparkle and a cosy feel,’ adds Camilla.
9. Go for it
Sure, your home may not accommodate a Christmas tree that’s 20ft tall, or any size tree at all, but in the season of goodwill, there’s no better time to show off your individuality and character.
‘Christmas really is a time when anything goes – don’t be afraid to go bold and make a choice that’s different to the norm!’ says Abi Wilson, head of buying at Habitat. ‘A few vibrant pieces will bring a feeling of fun and festivity.’
10. Be liberal with accessories
Choose a few (merry and) brightly coloured accessories for every room in your home and you’ll be surprised at how far you can spread the festive cheer. ‘Think Festive cushions for the couch, a jolly tea towel for the kitchen, a set of Christmas bedding to extend the holiday makeover into the bedroom,’ says Gareth Coxall, Creative Director at Terrys.
‘None of these items require you to move furniture, handle broken baubles, or clean up pine needles for the rest of the month - but they do make a really cheerful addition to more compact spaces that might not seem immediately easy to Christmasify.’
How do you decorate a small space for Christmas?
When working with a small space, look to introduce soft fabrics, fur accents, and accessories to your home for a rustic yet refined festive look. ‘Incorporate Scandinavian-inspired elements like light woods and seasonal foliage to create a bright and airy atmosphere without overwhelming the space. For an unmistakably Christmassy ambience, use warm, glowing lighting sparingly to create a cosy feel,’ says Francesca Hadland, Styling Expert for Bridgman.
What is the best Christmas tree alternative?
Alternative Christmas tree ideas are great for switching up those seasonal traditions and doing something a little different. They can also be embraced in rooms that don’t have space for a classic tree but still deserve a festive focal point. ‘Small tabletop Christmas trees are brilliant alternatives and can provide a more subtle way to style up your surfaces,’ says Camilla Lesser of Essential Living. ‘We also love to arrange or hang favourite baubles and Christmas ornaments along a shelf to create an eye-catching display. Try to mix and match different sizes and colours but always consider a scheme that complements your overall decor for a cohesive look.’
No matter how mini the space, you don't have any excuse not to go big this Christmas.
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Linda Clayton is a professionally trained journalist, and has specialised in product design, interiors and fitness for more than two decades. Linda has written for a wide range of publications, from the Daily Telegraph and Guardian to Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. She has been freelancing for Ideal Home Magazine since 2008, covering design trends, home makeovers, product reviews and much more.
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