Master’s Class: Holiday Decorating on a Budget

There is no question that the holidays are a time when we are constantly thinking of how to make our budget go further. Between gifts, holiday meals and family travel, who has money leftover for holiday decorating? Well, never fear, as I have come up with a few ideas that will stretch your decorating budget further than ever and still make your home look like the holiday ideal of your dreams. Let’s get to work!


Well, the first thing is the tree, which, to save money, I’m going to break this to you now—you’ll need an artificial one. Although this requires a big payout upfront, going this route will end up saving you lots and lots of money as the years go on. And maybe there is a dusty old one that you have in the attic. Don’t be afraid to hose it down to freshen it up, or some spray fake snow to make it feel new again.

If you are determined to have a live tree, perhaps just a bough from a tree will do the trick and sometimes the excess of a big tree is just that. There might be a fun family scavenger hunt of the trees in your area to find a naturally-fallen bough that will be perfect for you…oh, and free!

For those more creative, modern types, a tree outline on a bare wall with Christmas lights can be a very cool alternative. If you go the route of a fake or reimagined tree, try having a cedar-scented candle burning to give you the smell of a fresh tree regardless.


Once again, creativity is the key. I love the idea of a family scavenger hunt in the house where each member is required to find five things that remind them of something wonderful that happened this year. Maybe its a sports medal, or a cookie cutter from the cookie drive, or even a split tee from Dad’s hole-in-one. What could be better than a tree that tells the story of a fantastic year?

Photos are also some of my favorite things to put up on the tree. So maybe a collection of shots of the family members, friends and pets would work for you. Once again, it’s all about making the tree meaningful.

Gift Wrap

There is nothing like waking up Christmas morning to see beautifully-wrapped gifts waiting for you. But let’s be real—that wrapping can get expensive! I love to use rolls of regular brown paper wrap, and then create stamps to help decorate. You can buy stamps or create them yourself for a more personalized look.

Yard Decor

Yes, we have all admired those amazing light presentations and wished we could do something just as amazing. Well the truth is, just a couple of simple touches is enough. Try swapping out the bulbs in your exterior lights with red and green ones. A few simple wood circle cut outs painted bright colors and hanging from the tree can also be a simple and inexpensive way to decorate the garden.

The important thing to remember when working on a tight budget is that people see the effort you have made. Showing that you care is what the holidays are all about! Also my rule is to never pass up any opportunity to make any of these a fun family activity. Happy holidays!

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