If ever there's a time to look for more cost-effective decorating solutions, it's Christmas! An already expensive time of year, budget Christmas decorating ideas are a welcome way to add style without splurging.
Whether you simply disagree with spending so much on festive accessories or you're just plain broke – for all of the above, we have a suitable budget answer. Who says you have to spend big to see Christmas through in style.
Budget Christmas decorating ideas
Cheaper Christmas ideas have never been more needed than this year. With a little crafting and a whole lot of imagination decorating your home for Christmas doesn't have to break the bank.
Follow our purse-friendly design and inspirational ideas this year for easy updates that are on budget (but look far from it!).
1. Make an alternative advent calendar
Alternative advent calendar ideas are a brilliant way to start as you mean to go on for a cost-effective Christmas. Instead of buying pricey beauty or chocolate advent calendars, make a budget version with mini treats tailored to the recipient.
Little ones will love tiny toys, collectable figures or crafty buys, while mini make-up and hair accessories will go down well with teens. Package up the treats in mini boxes and paper bags, labelled with numbers from 1 to 24.
Make it a hanging display by using a couple of wire scarf hangers hooked up on the wall, then just tie your packages on with coloured string.
2. Create an easy bauble chandelier
Make your own hanging decoration to go over a dining table or centre stage in a hallway. Use an inexpensive plastic hula-hula hoop as your base, either spray-painting it or covering it with tape or string to conceal it. Then simply tie on a selection of coloured Christmas baubles, arranged at staggered heights. Suspend from the ceiling with string or fishing wire.
3. Put together a tabletop terrarium
Fill a glass terrarium with winter foliage and flowers to use as a table centrepiece for Christmas festivities. Use mini terracotta planters filled with ivy, potted cyclamen or winter blooms like snowdrops or narcissi in teeny bud vases.
Add colour by popping in a few Christmas baubles in jolly reds and greens so that the base of the terrarium is covered. A set of battery-operated micro lights will bring extra sparkle, but avoid real candles as the heat could crack the glass.
4. Pretty up a mantel with an easy up-cycle
Make use of a junk shop picture frame or old broken mirror by creating a Christmassy mantel display. Carefully remove any old glass, mirror or backing from the inside of the frame and dispose of it first. Then simply fill the centre of the frame with a selection of favourite baubles and decorations hung on lengths of coloured ribbon.
Secure the ribbon at the back of your frame using sticky tape (to hide the ends), arranging the hanging decorations at staggered heights to fill the space. Prop the frame on a shelf or mantel with mini parcels and trinkets to add to the festive feel.
5. Add festive cheer to a hallway
Make the entranceway feel extra warm and welcoming for guests with a splash of Christmas colour. Wallpapering one wall or just a single panel behind a console table, should only take a roll of wallpaper, but will be an instant room brightener.
Style up your console table with a few other festive items. Fill vases with stems of foliage and red berries, decorate a mirror with strings of hanging baubles and wrap boxes in jolly paper piled in a stack.
6. Make personalised Christmas crackers
Forget pricey luxury crackers and put together your own instead. Fillable crackers are an inexpensive buy (try Dunelm, Lakeland and Hobbycraft) and choosing mini gifts and treats tailored to the recipients adds a much more personal touch.
Decorate crackers with ribbon ties and write your guests’ names on in gold marker. Don’t forget to add paper crowns, chocolate coins and some novelty jokes or charade ideas that will brighten up Christmas lunch.
7. Go big with paper baubles
Create an eye-catching display without spending a fortune. Inexpensive paper baubles and folding fans look eye-catching suspended in a row from the ceiling and are an easy way of filling empty wall space above a sofa or sideboard.
Choose a bright mix of colours for a standout look or keep to all-white paper decs or one colour pieces for simplicity. Use coloured cord or fine ribbon to suspend your decorations, arranging them at a variety of different heights for visual interest. Use thumb tacks to secure.
8. Bake edible table treats
Cut costs by baking cookies to decorate place settings instead of hitting the shops. Bake gingerbread or shortcake biscuits in heart or star shapes and decorate with white icing, one for each guest. You could even pipe guests’ names on if you have a particularly steady hand.
Decorate the rest of the table with other edible treats. Line a central table runner with greenery, piled high with stacks of seasonal fruits, such as pomegranates, apples and berries, that will look wonderfully festive and smell delicious too.
9. Use leftover ribbon to hang Christmas cards
If you’re short on shelf space, create a hanging display to show off favourite Christmas cards. Remnants of ribbon left over from past Christmases are ideal. Use a mix of different colours and widths of ribbons, cut in a variety of different lengths. Then simply attach each length to a wall or picture rail using small tacks. Secure cards with mini pegs and add a tiny bauble or bell at the end of each length of ribbon as a finishing flourish.
10. Deck the stairs with sparkly baubles
Make the staircase the focal point of your hallway by festooning the bannisters with a shimmering garland. A set of micro lights wired into the garland will add extra sparkle, but instead of hanging baubles all the way up the stairs, just a single swag at the end will add just as much impact. Just tie a few unbreakable baubles with lengths of satin ribbon and then loop over the end of the banister or around the newel post.
11. Make a cheap and cheerful Christmas wall hanging
Create a super-easy wall hanging for a long hallway or corridor with a row of cheery gift-wrapped packages suspended from a rustic branch or pole. It makes a lovely way of displaying small gifts and pressies for the family and a great way of using up leftover giftwrap and ribbon remnants. Just suspend your branch or pole on a couple of sturdy wall hooks.
12. Pretty-up presents with hand-made tags
Give gifts a high-end look by raiding your Christmas decorations box. There are always a few odds and ends that don’t make it onto the tree, so instead of packing them away again, why not put them to good use? Mini baubles, scraps of faux foliage and broken-off bits of berries make great gift toppers.
Wrap your presents in plain brown paper or coloured wrap for a smart look, then tie with lengths of raffia or coloured ribbon and add your fancy tag for a chic, personalised touch.
13. Wrap your front door with ribbon
Make an entrance! All you need to follow this simple but highly-effect decorating trend is a reel of ribbon. Simply cross two lengths of ribbon across the door, one smaller strip horizontally across and a full-length vertical piece. To save money on how much ribbon is required – simply measure to the top of the door and discreetly secure the ribbon with drawing pins . The pins will be out of view when the door is closed. It's easy to do and easy to remove, once the season is over.
For added flourish adding a floral wreath is a beautiful touch, but if the budget doesn't stretch you could simply tie the ribbon in a statement bow. To make a bow you will need to allow for extra meterage.
14. Suspend a decorative branch
This craft idea is very 'of the moment', as a unique way to add impact to a dining area. Simply hang a lightweight fallen branch for free and drape with natural foliage and a few light decorations to create a rustic centrepiece. But it's not for the faint-hearted, as the branch has to be suspended from the ceiling above the dining table. You need to make sure this is done securely, nothing ruins a meal quite like falling branches!
15. Fashion a captivating centrepiece for the table
An impressive centrepiece needed cost the earth. Repurpose your cake stands to stack them on the table to add height and drama to the table. Dressed with leftover baubles and add dried fruit for a cheap decorative touch – plus they will help to add a festive scent to proceedings.
16. Hang an artistic twig bauble display
Who says baubles are only for Christmas trees? Branch out, quite literally, this year with an artistic twig display to add colour and festive decoration to a plain wall in the living room. Choose to coordinate with your tree scheme or use a different accent colour to embrace more than one seasonal trend.
It works best above a sideboard or shelf, allowing the surface to house the vase containing the twigs – alongside additional paper decorations and foliage. Alternatively you could suspend the twig from an existing picture hook, using twine or a clear thread. The branch display would replace what was usually hanging in the space – a clear sign of a seasonal refresh.
17. Forage for foliage to make a wreath
Trees, wreaths, garlands, sprayed twigs – nature is cool at Christmas, and it’s free. Get your wellington boots on and get foraging for holly, pine cones, herbs, sprigs and twigs before getting home and twisting and turning them into botanical masterpieces. There is no reason why you can't do Christmas on a budget!
Above is a wreath from our Christmas shoot, fashioned with fragrant herbs, pretty baubles and decorative dried flowers. A cost effect way to dress a front door in style.
18. Give a hall mirror a festive makeover with cards
When decorating on a budget, Christmas cards from friends and family are your best friends. Transform your ordinary hallway mirror into a festive centrepiece by filling the fame with cards. This works brilliantly with window mirrors as shown above. Hang a few fairy lights over the mirror for some added glitz.
19. Curate a Christmas display
Make the most of every surface to style a spectacular Christmas display. Use seasonal fruits to dress side tables, sideboards and even mantels to create a beautifully rich display, on a cheap budget. Generous vases filled with pomegranates are an easy decor detail that requires minimal effort for maximum style. Consider alternative seasonal fruits to suit your colour scheme, such as clementines.
20. Wrap prop presents to add festive abundance
There's no denying Christmas decor always looks all the more cheery once the presents start to arrive. What is they say, fake it till you make it? After years of shooting seasonal scenes the Ideal Home style team know only too well the difference prop fake presents can make. Beautifully wrapped boxes can go a long way to add a feeling of excitement to all Christmas decors.
*Just be careful not to let the kids get over excited and open them – ruining the illusion, and most likely crying as a result of the empty contents.
21. Plant a seasonal hanging basket
Go one better than hanging a wreath on front doors by planting seasonal hanging baskets. A blooming Christmas hanging basket idea with winter foliage will go a long way to cheer up the exterior. And not just for Christmas, seasonally planted baskets can add colour to front gardens even once the festive lights come down.
22. Show off decorative stars
Simple paper decorations, especially large-scale stars can go a long way when it comes to decorating on a budget. Even more so if you can craft the stars yourself, using recycled materials. Hang the statement stars at the window to spread some festive cheer
23. Dress the table with handmade crackers
This year why not make your own crackers to save on costs? To save on budget and waste, because both are much-needed at this time of the year. Plus handmade place settings make guests feel extra welcome.
Simply place a treat inside a cardboard roll, wrap crepe paper or even fabric scraps around, then tie the ends with ribbon. You could even write your own jokes for inside, simply ask Google for the best cracker jokes.
24. Make your own gift wrap
Keep the budget down by making your own gift wrap. Hand printed patterns create a beautiful authentic paper to add charm to your gifts. Slice a large potato in half and carefully score a festive motif. Cut away the potato on the outside of the scored section, so the shape is raised. Dip this side into a thin spread of paint (use the underside a tin lid as a palette), avoid making it too heavy otherwise it will be blot. Stamp onto a sheet of brown paper, or better still on the reverse of an upcycled sheet of paper.
Stamp several times before re-coating with paint and repeat until the paper is covered. Leave to dry. Visit Annie Sloan (opens in new tab), the home of chalk paint.
25. Fashion trees for festive place settings
Creating a charming festive statement by dressing the table with mini trees as place settings. You can cheat this effect by making homemade mini trees. Simply take cuttings of branches from a real fir tree, and place them in a tealight votive. If you have a real tree as your main tree you can easily snip branches from the back, they won’t be missed.
Add a further touch of personality by dressing the ‘trees’ with mini baubles, that are otherwise lost on the big tree.
26. Stir creativity by upcycling food tins
Upcycle simple tin cans and turn them into twinkling lanterns. To create your own, start by peeling the labels off your cans and running them through the dishwasher for a shiny finish. Next, fill them with water and pop them in the freezer. Once frozen, draw a heart or star on paper and tape the sketch onto each tin. With a hammer and a nail, pierce the tin following the pattern (the ice inside will stop the tin denting).
After thawing the tins, wash out them out and add a handle using aluminium wire. Finally, light a nightlight inside and line up two or three in a row for a homemade Christmas decoration with plenty of natural charm.
27. Make your own fragrant fire lighters
Creating the perfect festive ambience is as much about the aroma as it is the visual. Signature scents can instantly conjure feelings of fun festivities, those such as dried fruits, nutmeg, cinnamon and pine cones.
What could be better than setting the scene with a roaring fire? Making that roaring fire a fragranced one, that's what. Make our own scented budget-friendly firelighters by gathering aromatic materials such as cinnamon sticks and woodland finds. Bunch these together in squares of upcycled newspaper, roll up and tie with jute at either end – to look like mini crackers.
28. Dry fruit to make decorations
Christmas tree decorations don't get much more cost effective than oven-dried fruits. Clementines are a Christmas classic, due to the seasonal scent. They are therefore the ideal fruit to dry and attach to the tree, to add a splash of warm colour and rich fragrance. Multiple cuts around the outside, from top to bottom will be sufficient enough to allow the fruit to dry out quicker, and emit more of the sweet fragrance.
Simply thread string through the top to fashion a loop, for hanging on a tree, wreath or garland.
29. Create unique garlands from recycled materials
If you are looking to decorate your tree with something other than tinsel, but don't have the budget to invest in a pre-made garland try making your own. You can string together anything from popcorn to pine cones. Why not give your Christmas a vintage spin by upcycling old vintage lace and crocheted doilies into a unique garland.
30. String up socks as an alternative garland
If you're on a budget, what could be better than using socks to form an advent garland? You simply need to find 24 socks and some form of ribbon or string. Put a tiny stitch in each to get the socks in place, securely along the length of ribbon. Next you need to add numbers onto a card tag, and attach them using mini wooden pegs – which you can pick up super cheap in most craft shops. All that's left to do is fill each one with a treat for every day of advent.
31. Do it yourself
Go back to basics with a fun little garland made from string and old-fashioned luggage tags - you can hang it across the mantel, along some shelving or at the end of the bed so Santa will know where to stop. Using a new tag for each letter, write out a family member's name, a Christmas message or a personalised greeting, then string the tags on a length of twine with mini pine cones in between to separate each one.
32. Make twig trees
These will bring a modern woody touch to a side table. Take two long, sturdy twigs and join with a hot glue gun. Twist with wreath wire to support. Now, cut and lay out the crosswise twigs. Starting at the top, cut two short twigs of equal length and lay side by side. Repeat and cut two more, slightly longer, a finger space below the first two. Continue, with the twigs gradually getting longer, until you have two triangular shapes, but leave enough trunk to push into a pot.
Fix the cut twigs on to the trunk, working on one side first with a hot glue gun, according to the original layout. Cool, turn over and repeat. Push oasis into a pot, then push in the cooled tree. Top pot with moss and berries, and decorate the twigs with twine or wreath wire.
33. Countdown to Christmas
Simple to make, this lovely alternative advent calendar can be used each year. To make your own, buy 24 plain brown envelopes and emboss or print each one with a number, from one to 24. Then, fill each envelope with a sweet treat or a simple written clue to where a small present is hidden. Peg the envelopes onto four short lengths of cord and fix onto your wall. Use red ribbon and stripy string for an extra festive touch.
34. Upcycle knits for style on a budget
With just a few key accessories in scarlet red, snow white and natural materials you can achieve a seasonal Scandi look without breaking the bank. Browse flea markets and car boot fairs for old type-setting blocks so you can spell out a festive greeting. Buy red and white woolly jumpers or blankets from local charity shops and upycycle them into festive cushions or home-made Christmas stockings.
35. Add a sweet candy cane wreath
For some edible inspiration look no further than our candy cane decorations. See the candy stick like you never have before – spun into festive lettering, stuck onto Christmas wrapping and tied to wreaths – who knew the candy cane was so versatile? Costing next to nothing for large packs, get stuck in to these sticky goodies.
36. Make your own and save
An icy woodland-inspired theme is magical and will last year after year. What's more, with a natural look you can dress your home with 'free' foliage from your own garden and use inexpensive materials for rustic charm. Dress the mantel with a homemade garland, using pinecones, greenery, nuts and berries from outdoors. Buy inexpensive paper stars to hang from the ceiling, or even make your own from sheets of newspaper.
37. Simplify your scheme
If you prefer an understated scheme, achieve simple style by supplementing what you already have to create a festive atmosphere that is simple and heartfelt – and not expensive.
Give a neutral living room a Nordic twist with wooden decorations in red, white and warm wood. Swap the bauble-laden Christmas fir for a small-scale twig tree strung with fairy lights and wooden shapes. Decorate the mantel with a pared-back garland and lights with a cardboard wreath suspended above.
38. Tone down the colour
Decorate the dining room with a simple red and white Scandi theme. You don't need to spend a fortune on new decorations, just bring out kitchenware you already have in a red, white or natural wood colour theme. Decorate shelves with glass jars filled with red and white treats, such as candy canes, sweets and foil-wrapped biscuits.
Tie lengths of red ribbon onto metal cookie-cutters and hang them up as decorations on the branches of a mini tree. Dress dining chairs with red and white tea towels used as simple cushion covers, and tie pine cone decorations to each chair back with lengths of stripy baker's twine.
39. Collect seasonal pinecones
Sometimes, simplicity is key and this effortless display is as easy as it is charming. Take your favourite candles, add a handful of pinecones and one or two choice baubles, or ornaments to fit in with your colour scheme. Place on a mantelpiece in your living room or a console table in your hall for relaxed and elegant festive style.
40. Bake and serve up treats
Christmas is the only time of year that it’s acceptable to eat your decorations (well, Easter too but lets not get ahead of ourselves) so make the most of it. Gingerbread houses on tabletops, candy canes on trees and iced biscuits as place settings are all cheap and easy decorations – how much can you eat this Christmas?
41. Downsize the tree
Natural fir will bring the scent of Christmas into your home. If you don’t have enough room or budget for a full-sized tree in your living room, why not display small clippings instead. Pot them up in galvanised metal containers for contemporary, understated style, or wrap them in sisal for a rustic, country appearance.
The beauty of these decorations is that they will last for the full festive period – just top up with a little water. Decorate your miniature tree with cinnamon, pine cones and small-scale decorations for an authentic look.
Will you be using any of these budget Christmas decorating ideas this year?
Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.
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