A Christmas tree bedecked in sparkling balls, tinsel strung across every surface, tiny lights winking mischievously at us from behind every windowpane – these are when we truly know that Christmas is coming.
However, the cost involved in setting our own houses up like this can be astronomical. While decorations certainly look pretty, the damage to your wallet is less so.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to make sure that these decorations are both beautiful and budget-friendly! (And that don’t involve you having to DIY!)
(Psst…see the end of this post for a free bonus gift to help you set – and stick to – your budget this Christmas season)
Buy an artificial Christmas tree instead of a new, fresh one each year
I grew up with Christmas in summer and so real Christmas trees were only something we saw in Home Alone movies. I was amazed the first time that I had a Christmas in the US and saw people selling real, live Christmas trees on the corner down the road – it was just like a movie!
But then I started seeing people dumping their Christmas trees after the holidays. What a waste. The trees piling up on the side of the road collectively represented hundreds of thousands of dollars just tossed outside into the cold, wet winter.
I can assure you that there are some absolutely beautiful artificial Christmas trees and an almost unlimited range of sizes. While some of the larger ones can get above the $100 mark, the mid-sized ones at around $40 (or less!) are just as good.
And they last (practically) forever! The one my family owns has lasted 20 years and will most certainly be brought out again this year.
Not only does an artificial tree work out as being significantly cheaper over time, but they are far cleaner (no dropped pine needles!) and much better for the environment.
I can also definitively confirm that Santa is still happy to leave presents under an artificial tree!
There is no need to buy expensive decorations
When you’re holding one sparkly Christmas decoration in your left hand and a slightly sparklier one in your right hand, it can be very tempting to go as bright as possible.
After all, your house will look so much better, won’t it? And it’s fine that the sparklier option is also double the price, right?
I’m sorry to break it to you, but no one will realise the extra expense that you’ve incurred. And before you know it, you’ve blown your budget on some glittery balls that you use once a year.
What on Earth justifies this $15 difference? Yes, there is a slight difference in their patterns, but who will remember that when they’re simply a bunch of red balls on your (artificial!) Christmas tree?
Hollar is an extremely cheap online store with a huge Christmas section.This includes more than 300 different decorations priced at $2 or less, as well as a massive amount of other Christmas paraphernalia, much of which only costs $1.
As a special offer, sign-up for Hollar here and receive $5 credit for free!
Not everything needs to have a Christmas theme
While staring in horror at the price of Christmas balls in that last section, I was also recommended to purchase a Santa toilet seat cover.
Now, that is undeniably hilarious. But that is also $17 that will sit in my bathroom for a couple of weeks, get packed into a box and be either forgotten or brought out in a cloud of dusty regrets next year.
So here’s a tip that can be applied to your finances all year: just because something exists doesn’t mean that it has to be bought.
Christmas decorations are expensive and take up space when it’s not December. Some well-placed tinsel is more than sufficient and takes up next to no space in your “random crap” cupboard throughout the other eleven months.
Similarly, for your Christmas meal, there’s no need to buy reindeer candles or cutlery covered in stars. Some artfully tossed tinsel on the table alongside normal candles and your usual cutlery set will ensure that your meal looks beautiful, classic and sufficiently festive.
A note about making your own decorations
Wait, didn’t I promise not to mention this??
Well, I did say that you could save money without having to DIY. And that’s true!
(I was a very annoying child. Can you tell?)
To be frank, there are one million absolutely stunning creations all over the internet for DIY Christmas decorations. The creativity of people blows my mind every holiday season as links reappear all over Pinterest for masterpieces that I couldn’t even begin to imagine how to make.
And some of them are amazingly simple! A few popsicle sticks, some glue, and a dash of silver spray paint – and suddenly you have beautiful snowflakes ready to be mounted on your wall!
I considered including some of the budget-friendly options here but honestly, a simple search of Google or Pinterest will present more than enough choices to you.
(Speaking of Pinterest – follow The Land of Milk and Money right here!)
At the same time, Christmas can be a super stressful time, particularly in the weeks leading up to it. Not only are there always 1001 things to do at home, but there is often a final avalanche of tasks at work before the year ends. It can, to put it mildly, be quite a difficult time.
I don’t know about you, but I personally would struggle to find the time to make many of these pieces. They certainly can be budget-friendly – in some cases – and if you have the time, they look absolutely spectacular.
But for those of us who may lack the time or the patience or the creativity streak (hands up if you’re guilty of all three!), here are the simplest options possible for decorating cheaply. They are, strictly speaking, DIY in that you are doing it yourself – just don’t tell anyone how little time it took as they’re oohing and aahing over your Instagram-ready decorations!
Total time you will need: One hour maximum
Creativity needed: Minimal
What to do:
Find any spare vases or decorative bowls that you have at home and fill them with a random assortment of each colour. You can also add some pine cones if you have them near where you live. These also make a great table centerpiece.
Buy a set of mini-Christmas lights.
Keep one vase spare from the previous option. Fill the vase with the lights and switch on for a beautiful effect.
Proceed to draw snowflakes on all of your windows, write Christmas messages on all of your mirrors (you could even change it up each night in the countdown to Christmas Day) and just go generally festively crazy.
Buy thick red ribbon.
Wrap it around anything you can find. This person wrapped it around a pillow for an amazingly effective look. You can tie large bows along any staircases you have and let the ends hang down (your cat would love this option). You could even simply tie bows and attach them to doors instead of wreaths. Ribbon is also great for tying around chairs for a Christmas dinner with bows hanging off the back.
Buy several rolls of Christmas gift wrap (you will need several rolls as you want several different patterns).
Find any books that you won’t need over the coming weeks and wrap them in alternating wrapping paper patterns. Stack the wrapped books artfully around your house. Consider recruiting any leftover Christmas balls and/or ribbon to increase the festive factor.
And voila! Your home is ready for Santa to make his grand entrance – without busting your budget!
Need some help with saving money over the Christmas period in relation to gifts, decorations, food and drink, or travelling? Or want to learn how to make money this Christmas? If so, click here for more of our “We Wish You a Frugal Christmas” series.
By the way…it’s no secret that Christmas can be a difficult time financially. Why not make things easier for yourself by grabbing our completely free, interactive Christmas Budget?
I’d love to hear your ideas for Christmas decorations that take the least amount of time possible. Let me know in the comments below!