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low-budget Christmas décor ideas

You don’t have to spend a lot to make your home look great for the holidays. For those who celebrate Christmas, there will be the usual decorated tree, perhaps a garland here and there and twinkle lights for the windows. These are all standard fodder for the season. If you want to take your Christmas décor a step further, however, you can do so without breaking the bank. I like to try new things each season and often take my ideas from the very stores that are trying to sell me expensive Christmas decorations. Here are a few ideas that might work for you. A lot of this depends on what you have on hand as I prefer to work with items that I don’t have to go out and purchase. Perhaps these ideas might inspire you to work with what you might have.


Stores often have displays of crisply wrapped “presents” (empty boxes really) in an eye-pleasing display to get shoppers in the buying mood. I took this idea into my own home this year after I found a big whack of empty gift boxes that I had been saving over the years. (You never know when you might need a small box for a gift!) Since I never actually got around to using these boxes I decided to wrap them and make a present display of my own. I used my piano as the presentation surface and wrapped each box in solid colours with decorative bows and accents. I usually purchase bags of mixed bows and ribbons from the thrift stores so I always have tons on hand. I find the most unusual items in these grab packs. I purchased a large pack recently for a quarter. The display is pretty and inexpensive and I can still keep those boxes for future use.


Decorated theme trees gave me some ideas for creating unique trees for the home. If you don’t have a traditional tree you can create a unique tree by wrapping boxes of different sizes in one solid colour of wrapping paper (I can see red, green, gold or even purple or blue) and stagger them from largest to smallest until you’ve created a tower of presents in the shape of a tree. Run four lengths of wide ribbon from the top to the bottom in a maypole fashion and create a unique topper by tying the ribbon ends in a large bow or topping it with a large ornament. Stand ornaments on each tier as decorations until you have a pleasing display. If you don’t have enough wrapping paper of the same colour you might be able to paint or spray paint the boxes with gold or silver paint. Be sure to do

this project in a very well-ventilated area. Use what you have

to create something truly unique and recycle the boxes after the holidays. A different twist on this tree idea would be to use round hat boxes in the same fashion.

UsE ORnaMEnts in a DiFFEREnt WaY

Speaking of thrift stores, my husband and I went out recently and we happened upon a thrift shop we hadn’t been to yet. We found lots of great Christmas stuff but I was most pleased with the deal I got on two bags of gold ornaments. I had wanted to create a display of ornaments in a clear container but didn’t have enough of the same colour. I lucked out and got two bags of glittery, gold ornaments for less than $3 and proceeded to create two lovely ornament displays. If you don’t have a large, clear container, there are usually many to be found at the thrift and dollar stores or you could use a bowl or platter, wineglasses (for mini-ornaments or beads) or any other container that you think might work. Use ornaments in other ways than for hanging on the tree.

Champagne or wineglasses can also be used to create lovely, seasonal touches. Fill them with beaded garland,

beads or whatever you may have and use them as elegant

touches throughout the home.

gO Big

Oversize ornaments, Christmas stockings and Santa sacks make good decorations. To add colour to the home hang oversize (we’re talking a few feet wide by four or five feet tall) stockings or Santa sacks in a tall stairway or large focal wall. Stores use large ornaments to match the scale of their interiors but using them in your home can create drama as well. I also picked up two large gold ornaments at that thrift store for a few bucks and will probably hang them as topiaries by covering them with dried fruits and berries using hot glue. These can be hung inside or outside because the actual ornaments are plastic and the birds will appreciate the real dried fruits.


I hadn’t planned on making any wreaths this year but at that same shop I got a bag of instrument ornaments for two bucks and thought they’d be great on a wreath by the piano. Hot glue gun, some ribbon on a wreath form I picked up years ago and voila, instant musical wreath. Wreaths are a great way to present gifts as well. You can create theme wreaths like a sewing wreath filled with sewing notions and accessories for the sewer in the family, or perhaps a gardener wreath for the family gardener. Dog bone wreaths have been a favourite for my dog-loving friends over the years and are always a hit with the pooches too!

My friend, Colette, who lives in the country called recently to tell me about a unique way she recycled her old, ornamental Christmas tree. It wasn’t functioning properly any longer as a tree so she made a huge, outdoor wreath using the tree branches which were fastened to a large hoop that her husband Ken fashioned out of rebar. What a great idea!

Other items that you probably have on hand that can be used for decorative touches on wreaths or gifts are: cinnamon sticks, vintage clothing buttons, coffee beans, cookie cutters (like gingerbread men or Christmas tree shapes) beads or river rocks.

Have fun decorating for the holidays this year. Use your old decorations in a new way. Stop to check out new and fun display ideas when you’re out gift shopping this season. It will give you a chance to catch your breath and enjoy the beauty of it all.

Connie Oliver is an interior designer from Winnipeg, Manitoba



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