The Organized Life

Christmas Decorating Tips: Creativity on a Budget

The holiday season can be an exciting time to decorate, with so many options that sparkle, add more color, and create drama. But it can also be a period of stress for those of us who wonder how to use all those stored boxes of ornaments and garlands to make a pretty display. But we can help with tips for Christmas decorating on a budget.

Decorator Stacy Nelson shared her tips for creating that warm holiday glow, even if you’re short on cash and stumped for creativity. Stacy is the founder of Trash Lassies, a professional set decorating company for television, film and special events. As the person responsible for those amazing backdrops you see on the big screen, Stacy often works on a tight budget and knows a thing or two about how to get the more intimate setting of your house glittering for the holidays!

She says color is a great way to get your decorating inspiration going. “Start by selecting your preferred holiday color palette.  Color is KEY to decorating continuity.  ‘Candy cane’ is an easy theme to capture.  Put up one or two large candy canes, all decorations in red and white, and you have a finished look for very little money.  ‘Silent Night’ is a theme I find beautiful and easy to do.  Keep all your decorations in the colors of blue and green, mix in some strands of blue and green twinkle lights with the white lights you place on the tree.  This creates a magical effect that communicates peace and harmony.”

She also suggests trying some unexpected color combinations to reflect your own individual taste. “If you like red and green but want to make a stylized statement, try using unusual hues of those colors, burgundy or terra cotta red, hunter or pistachio green.  Create style that captures movie magic by combining colors you would not typically see together in holiday decorations.  Mix red with royal blue for a rich and regal effect.  Blend black, winter white and silver for upscale country club ambiance.  Create Toontown Disney-style with non-traditional colors like electric purple, candy apple red and chartreuse.”

For those on a tight budget she says there are ways to repurpose items you already have around the house to create your decorations. “Dig through things you used for other holidays.  Easter baskets in white, natural browns, blue or any shade of green work great for centerpieces and table decorations. Grab the red and white tablecloth or napkins from Valentine’s Day, solid green accessories from St Patrick’s Day or silver and gold decorations from last New Year’s Eve.  NEVER buy anything new until you scout your house for items that can be up-styled.”

She also says there’s no need to overdo it, “Think simple not showy.  A small basket filled with nothing but round ornaments is stunning!  Concentrate on the areas of your home you see the most.  If you reside mostly in the kitchen and dining room, then deck-out those locations. All you really need is a tree or a couple of holiday baskets to capture the holiday spirit.” 

Christmas ornaments in a bowl

The one thing she does recommend spending some extra effort on is lighting, “There is no easy way around it, lighting takes time but the end result is soooo worth the wait.  You can have the most beautiful holiday decoration but if it does not have glistening lights or it is in a dark spot in the house, it’s not worth doing.  TAKE TIME and enhance your home with lights.  Invest in several strands of battery-operated lights.  These allow you to light places where you have no access to a power outlet.  Outline a picture frame, weave into a centerpiece or wrap around a basket of poinsettias.”

Are you longing for some items you can’t afford right now? Don’t fret, Stacy reminds us that we can still have them, if we can just wait until December 26, when the decorations you covet will likely be marked down for after-Christmas sales. “Pack them away until next year and you will be ready to decorate next season with high-end items you bought for a song!”

When the holidays are all over, Stacy has some simple – and money saving - tips for storing all of your décor. “Save cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper!  As you remove strands of lights from the tree, simply roll them right onto the tubes.  It keeps lights separated and free from tangles.  If you didn’t save the boxes glass ornaments came in, use the wrinkled wrapping paper after you unwrap holiday gifts.  Cut or tear used gift wrap into squares and wrap around bulbs.  Or pass all wrinkled gift wrap through the shredder to cushion decorations when packing away for the year.  Plastic containers and storage bins are your best friends!  If you can’t invest in matching boxes and tubs, use any old boxes you have on hand but place a strip of colored tape on the outside to denote Christmas. A little organizing now will save you lots of time next year!”