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Holiday Decorations for Your First Place

Starting from Scratch on a Shoestring Budget


Whether you are searching for holiday decorations for your first place or having to start from scratch for any number of reasons, the task can feel overwhelming, especially if you are already on a tight budget. If the holidays are fast approaching and you don’t have a decoration or much more than a dime, it is still possible to make your home merry and bright.

1. Let go of perfection.

Photo © Stephanie Laing/flickr

I blame many a retail decorating catalog (and Martha Stewart) for insinuating that our holidays have to include fresh red paint on the walls, a host of handmade holiday throw pillows, a large stack of grandmother’s fine china and snow-dusted houses completely outlined in tiny little lights.

Instead of trying to repaint your walls or sew a dozen throw pillows (or even worse, pay for them), concentrate on the little things. You don’t need a house covered in swags and wreaths when a simple bell on the knob will do. Forgo the 10-foot tree and hang ornaments from your ceiling or place a small tree on a plant stand or table. For an even more frugal approach, use your holiday presents as decorations this year. Presents also look beautiful stacked in the shape of a tree.

2. Pick two colors, and they don’t have to be red and green.

Photo © Guide

Though they could be lime green and pink! A great way to decorate for the holidays on a budget is to pick two colors from your existing color palette and use that for your holiday decor.

For example, if your room is usually decorated in navy and cream, go with it! By purchasing inexpensive boxes of navy and cream colored glass ornaments, hanging a navy bow on your wreath and using mix-matched cream and gold plates, you’ve added a holiday feel with little else than what you already own.

If you don’t want to go with your original color palette or you don’t really have one, for holiday decorating on a budget think multi-seasonal basics. For example, a black table runner and white dishes may be worth a purchase since you can use them all year long. To add a festive look to your black and white table, add greenery and candles and you’re done.

3. Incorporate a vintage feel.

Photo © Karen Tucker/flickr

Comb yard sales, flea markets and curbsides for inexpensive or free holiday decorations. (You may also take care of all of your holiday shopping in the process!) As you are searching for cheap or free second-hand finds, don’t forget the power of paint. That old frame by the side of the road may look gorgeous once covered with silver paint and housed with an old family Christmas photo.

4. Break free from tradition.

Photo © DaliDecals.com

I know everyone usually has a formal table for Thanksgiving, a wreath on the door for Christmas and remembrance lights for Hanukkah but if the tradition isn’t a necessary part of your holiday celebration, don’t try to decorate just because you are “supposed to.” Use what you have or what is personal to you. Many service men and women choose to decorate in red, white and blue for the holidays. It is finally your holiday celebration, so have fun with it! You might just start a new tradition.

5. Don’t deny the power of a dollar.

Photo © Stephanie Laing/flickr

Your local dollar store can be your best friend. White plates and platters (that are also multi-seasonal), glassware, holiday confetti, ornaments and other decorations, even holiday place settings and linens can be found here for, well, a dollar. And no one has to know you didn’t pay big bucks for it. Of course, if you want to brag about your fantastic finds, don’t be afraid to flaunt it!

6. Ask for handouts.

Photo © Dasha Petrenko/Veer

It's amazing what people have hoarded in their attics. Don't be afraid to ask neighbors and friends for any decorations that they no longer use. I once knew someone who was ready to throw away her so-called outdated pink aluminum Christmas tree. Guess who happily gave it a new home? And don't be afraid to think outside of the box. Grandma's button collection beautifully displayed in a bowl can lend a festive touch. For more freebies, post your search on Craigslist or Freecycle and get ready to score big.

Decorator Hint: If you don't like it, don't buy it.

I know it is tempting to buy something just to fill holiday decoration space in your home, but choose your decorations with care. Holiday decorating is something that one builds on from year to year, and no one wants to take the effort to store and maintain a decoration that they don’t enjoy. When holiday decorating, it is better to have a few things that bring you pleasure instead of boxes of items that you’ll want to toss come next year.

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