Last weekend, I packed up all of my fall decorations. Into the box went acorns, pinecones, dried corn, and pressed leaves. Just call me Fancy Pants. Or not. I definitely prefer natural and simple decorations in my home. The items are easy to gather, the look is relaxed, and the expense stays low.
I can appreciate an elaborately decorated home, but I don’t want to live in it. And it would be much harder for me to let my kids explore and enjoy the season without worrying about that priceless antique vase.
It really is possible to achieve a warm, welcoming home, even one that changes with the seasons, without breaking the bank. Half of these ideas require no money at all!
Here are a few of my favorite places to find inexpensive decorating items and inspiration:
Shopping Your Own Home
Before I decorate for the holidays, I do two things:
- Clean my house from top to bottom. Decorations on top of clutter just looks like more clutter. Put away or, better yet, get rid of anything that isn’t beautiful or useful in your home. It will lower your stress level, and immediately make your home look better.
- Pull out anything that could double as Christmas decorations: vases, pitchers, trays, jars, cloth napkins, and mirrors all get put to work holding or displaying things around my home. It makes sense to own things that do double duty. Thinking outside of the box can save money while achieving the same results.
Gathering Items from the Great Outdoors
Craft stores make me feel panicky and claustrophobic. So many options! Where do I start and why do all these people look like they know what they’re doing?! I buy a few items, but I shop at these stores just to fill in the gaps, which makes my budget and my blood pressure much happier.
I feel most inspired outside. Are you rolling your eyes yet? It’s true though. The colors and patterns in nature are hard to beat. I wander around our yard with a pair of clippers and a bag, tossing in anything that has a neat texture or seasonal colors.
Live in an apartment? No problem. Ask for clippings at the farm where you cut your tree, talk to your friends about getting some greens, or go for a walk and fill your coat pockets with pinecones. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have so many beautiful options right outside our front doors. Take advantage of it!
Spending Money on Decorations
If all my Christmas decorations was just moss and sticks, it would obviously look a bit wonky. I add a few inexpensive items from hobby or home improvement stores to achieve a finished look. Even though you may have to plan ahead in July, thrift stores or garage sales are also great places to find unique items. Here are a few decorating items I am willing to buy:
Ribbon – There are so many cool designs and colors, and prices are low during December. Tied around a package, twisted through a wreath, or twirled around a railing, it takes everyday items up a notch, giving them that festive Holiday Inn feel. Also, wire-edged ribbon makes you look like you know what you are doing, and you won’t even break a sweat.
Candles – I love lighting candles for special occasions. Like Pizza Night on Friday. My kids get very excited, the pace slows down, and it adds a special spin to an otherwise normal event. I buy most of my candles (and frozen yogurt) at IKEA.
Burlap & Twine – Burlap is around $4/yard. With a coupon, it is a very inexpensive way to add a rustic yet finished look to just about anything. I absolutely love tables draped in burlap. It’s such a simple backdrop for whatever goes on top. And, Twine, how did I ever live without you? My husband needed some to finish a project the other day, and I had a hard time parting with it. We need his and hers, obviously.
Wreath Forms & Wire – Making your own wreath is incredibly easy and inexpensive. The forms can be re-used each year, and the wire lasts a long time.
Spray Paint – My friend Ruth is the Queen of Spray Paint. Her tables and chairs are like wooden chameleons, changing color at the drop of a hat. We all tease her about it, but we’re secretly jealous of her skills. She has definitely won me over to the land of paint fumes. It really is a quick, inexpensive way to change things up. Anything from pinecones or branches to Goodwill finds or tired decorations takes on a whole new look with a coat of paint.
Actual Decor Items – Most of my true Christmas decorations (ornaments, stockings, tree skirt, etc.) were either from my childhood or Target’s clearance bins. It’s a crazy assortment, but it works. I mix together shiny store stuff with natural backyard stuff and try not to collect too much stuff that only works for one holiday. It seems crazy to spend a bunch of money on items that will sit in a bin out in the garage for eleven months of the year.
Checking out the Produce Section
Finally, my favorite place to find beautiful holiday decorations: the grocery store, especially the produce section. For Christmas, you could buy pears, apples, pomegranates, citrus fruit, or cranberries. Or head over to the bulk section and fill bags with cinnamon sticks, cloves, nuts, or candy. Whether it is just displayed in a bowl or enlisted for a project, it adds life and color to any area.
Hungry? Grab an apple off the mantle. Limes getting a bit wrinkly? Not a problem. Enjoy them for a few weeks, then toss them in the juicer. And you know I’m not joking. See? Items can be beautiful and useful.
Got cinnamon sticks? Trust me, it’s easier said than done. They are kind of like vanilla beans: hard to find and expensive to buy. I went to six different grocery stores this past week trying to track them down. I had no intention of paying $4.99 (on sale!) for a tiny jar containing 6 sticks at Fred Meyer. Crazy! Amazon has this 2-lb bag from Frontier for under $15. I am pretty sure Costco and Winco carry them. Anyone know their prices?
Doing a bigger project? Amazon also has 5-pound bags from Spicy World at a price you won’t be able to beat in grocery stores.
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