Editorial Note: Forbes Advisor may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.
Americans spent an average of $230 on holiday decor and other non-gift holiday items in 2019. Although winter holiday staples like Christmas trees and lights accounted for most of that cost, other decors such as ornaments, stockings and tabletop pieces can quickly add up. Decorating to help get you into the fall and winter holiday spirit doesn’t need to take up a significant portion of your holiday budget. Consider some of these other frugal ways to decorate your home for the holidays.
1. Shop During the Offseason
Most shoppers are aware of the deep discounts retailers offer after each holiday passes to clear out merchandise. However, many retailers will store unsold items after each holiday and put them up for sale during “Christmas in July” or “early Halloween time” in late August. Plus, for those winter holidays, in-between and off-season is the perfect time to get deals on large items such as trees, wreaths and greenery.
2. Shop Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are a goldmine for cool pumpkins, that great Thanksgiving table spread, ornaments and small decor pieces. The best time of year to look for these items will be right before each holiday or soon after. As people get ready to celebrate, they realize they are over last year’s decor and donate it. Even if the decor has seen better days, a fresh coat of spray paint or glue gun can get it back into tip-top shape.
3. Buy Used Online
Online marketplaces on Facebook, Craigslist, eBay and even Esty offer a vast array of decor you can get for a few dollars. Best of all, most of the time you can even negotiate the price. The most significant advantage to buying used online is that you can see what’s available before you make contact. However, be sure to follow safety guidelines when shopping online and if you end up meeting up with the seller to pick up your purchases.
Making your decor isn’t as scary or time-consuming as it may seem, and it’s a great way to get the whole family involved in a holiday project. Simple crafts such as spray-painted pumpkins, salt dough ornaments, tying simple ribbons or making candy cane wreaths are just a few DIY crafts practically anyone can make. For more experienced DIYers, consider making your own spooky door frame out of corn stalks and acorns, wreath or garlands from evergreen clippings or adding your own personal touches to ready-made decorations.
Your yard offers a plethora of free holiday decor. The most obvious sources are acorns and crunchy leaves for the fall holidays and evergreen shrubs and trees for winter holidays. Use clippings to create quick arrangements by sticking the stems in pots with some moist soil to keep them fresh for weeks outdoors. Or, put the branches in a vase with water to add a festive touch indoors. Other items to forage include pinecones, seedheads from spent flowers and even bare branches. Arrange them with ornaments and white lights to create a lovely, eco-friendly holiday centerpiece.
Use what you already have in a new way. String lights tucked into a glass vase creates a beautiful lighting effect. Spray paint old, dated ornaments in a monochromatic theme to make them look new and modern. Use double-sided tape or fabric glue to add a new fur trim to old stockings. Your old decor presents an opportunity to be transformed into new decor without having to spend much money.
7. Use Non-Traditional Decor
Not all of your holiday decor needs to be string lights and red ribbon. Incorporating the Farmhouse trend into holiday decor is an easy and inexpensive way to add seasonal charm. Grab some natural or flannel-pattern linens, glass jars and any wood or antique metal bowls or utensils. Create a vignette displaying these items on a mantle or console table. Tuck evergreen branches into the jars and string in lights around it to give it a holiday flair.
8. Raid Your Pantry and Fridge
Dried fruit, nuts and spices make lovely decor. Place them in bowls or in small vases to add a visual and aromatic appeal to your holiday home. Other edible items that you may have in your pantry or refrigerator that make fun decor include gourds or winter squash, fresh cranberries, oranges and apples. You can even make it a family affair. Gather everyone together and create simple garlands using popcorn or cranberries stringed together to loop around your tree.
Check with friends and family to see if you can do a holiday swap. A swap is a great way to pull out unused decorations and see if friends and family can use them. Host a holiday swap party to make the whole experience fun and memorable. You can use this as an opportunity to create new decor using old items as a group. Making this a yearly holiday tradition will keep your decor looking fresh and new without having to spend extra money.
10. Keep it Simple
Perhaps the best way to save money and reduce stress over the holidays is to keep it simple. Pick one area to focus on, and let the rest be. The area can be your tree, entryway, front door or mantle. By focusing your efforts and decorating one area with intention, you can still bring in the holiday cheer, just without the expense and stress. Plus, it makes it very easy to clean up after the holidays.