Frugal Christmas Decorating Tips (+ How to Save Money on Your Christmas Tree!)

Want to have beautifully put-together Christmas decor with out spending an arm and a leg on decorations?  I have some great tips for you that will help you tastefully set the mood for the Christmas season without killing your Christmas budget. Some of them you can apply right now, others you can put into action for next year.

At the end I will give you 5 additional tips for saving money on probably the most expensive part of Christmas decor– the tree!

If you haven’t already, you’re going to want to sign up for the Frugal Fresh Start Challenge.  You’ll be able to download the workbook right away, then you can follow along starting January 1st.  Every weekday in January we’ll be tackling a new way to be more frugal.  Learning to be frugal and manage your money will help you no matter what your financial goals are.

Okay! Let’s jump right into the frugal tips for decorating for Christmas!

Tip #1: Buy Used

You can find a beautiful variety of Christmas decor at thrift stores and yard sales. When people are moving or downsizing, one of the first things to go is their Christmas decorations (especially when it’s the middle of the summer).

The chain of charity thrift stores in our area stores all the Christmas themed donations they receive throughout the year and has a big event on the day they put it all out for sale. Prices are fantastic and the inventory can’t be beat. Of course you don’t have to attend the big unveiling event to find great things, as the Christmas inventory remains in the stores through the rest of the season.

Tip #2: Resist the urge to buy new… until after Christmas

If you can muster some self-control, then hold off on buying any new decor for this season. Stores are so eager to clear out their Christmas inventory once Christmas is over that they will be offering steep discounts on everything starting on December 26th. Getting 75% off is a great incentive to wait. You can pack away your new treasures along with your other Christmas decorations and surprise yourself with them next year!

Tip #3: Incorporate Christmas cards into your decor

There are so many great ways to display your Christmas cards. We like to string a ribbon up and use clothes pins to hold the cards up. You could display them across a mantel or on a bookshelf. I’ve seen other people stick them on the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree, like the one below that Dani from Thyme is Honey made with washi tape.

I love the way Thrifty Decor Chick made this door into a gift to hold her cards.

If you don’t get many Christmas cards or your feel like your collection is too sparse at the beginning of the season, save your Christmas cards from years past and put them up again. There’s no shame in that!

Tip #4: Use kids’ artwork

Every elementary school child brings home an abundance of seasonal art projects over the years. Choose your favorite pieces and find a thrfit stroe frame that will fit it. Create a little gallery of artwork from your children or grandchildren. As they grow, the children will love seeing the creativity from their early days and will love that you cherish their work.

Tip # 5: Declutter– Less is More

This tip isn’t for everyone but if you have a tendency to let your horizontal spaces get cluttered, then this will make a huge difference in the overall effect of your Christmas decor. Cleaning up the space you have will allow the decor that have to stand out and not get lost in the mess.

There’s no need to over-do it with Christmas decorations. A few tasteful intentional decorations are more beautiful and meaningful than an overwhelming collection.

Tip #6: Use what you have

You probably have some everyday items around the house that could double as Christmas decor. You just have to think outside the box a little. Adding some red ribbon to a vase or vase makes it suddenly look seasonal. Grab some pinecones from your own yard or around the town to use in a basket or bowl.

Tip #7: Get crafty

You don’t even have to be creative to be crafty these days! Just search on Pinterest or Google for handmade Christmas decorations or craftys and you will be inundated with ideas. And not just “homemade” looking ones either. You can make some pretty sophisticated-looking crafts with very few supplies and minimal talent.

Tip #8: Be smart when it comes to the tree

Probably the biggest expense in the Christmas decor category is the Christmas tree. Live Christmas trees can be quite pricey on an annual basis, but investing in an artificial tree that you love can be a big expense in the year you choose to buy it. Here are some bonus tips to help you be smart in the tree department:

Cut your own!

If you live near a national forest, you can get a tree permit for $10-$15. We’ve made a tradition of cutting our own tree on Thanksgiving weekend.

Got a 4th grader?

Through the Every Kid in a Park program, 4th grade students not only get a free national parks pass for the year, but they also get a free Christmas tree permit to cut their own tree (with an adults help, of course).

Buy it used

During our law school years (and again when we were living in my in-laws’ basement paying off the law school debt), we used a small artificial tree that we bought for $4.79 at the thrift store. It served us well and fit our budget.

Wait until after Christmas

Those pricey artificial trees will also be in the 75% off sale after the holidays. Hold off until then and you’ll be set for next year.

Get creative!

If getting a tree isn’t in the budget, don’t let it ruin the holiday for you. Let your creative juices flow and get the kids involved.

I love this felt Christmas tree that Chelsea from Two Twenty One made.  She even has patterns for it over on her site.

With some washi tape you could create a life size tree on your wall. Add some lights and ornaments like HelloKim did and you’ll have a gorgeous festive tree!

Let your kids help decorate your masking tape wall tree with little candies and toys like this one from Mima and Moo.

Or you could use another potted plant (real or artificial) and set on a table to serve as the Christmas tree. Have the kids make mini decorations for the “tree.”

In 2019 we didn’t want to trek up to the mountains on the day after Thanksgiving with our brand new baby, so our older kids hiked around our property and decided on a manzanita tree.  This is our first year with such a non-traditional tree, but so far we really like it!

How have you managed to decorate for Christmas without breaking the bank?  Please share your tips in the comments so we can all get some fresh ideas!

See you back here tomorrow for Day 8 of Frugal Festivities: 25 Days of Christmas Cheer on a Budget!

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