For a lot of people one of the best parts of Christmas is putting the tree up, it gets you in the Christmas spirit like nothing else and the twinkling of fairy lights transforms your living room for one month each year.
But the tree is a bit of a limelight hogger and while it is the star of the show, it means we often overlook decorating the rest of our homes. When you see gorgeous pictures on Instagram of homes at Christmas the wow factor comes from a layered look with Christmas decorations all around the house.
Now if you’ve got bags of cash creating this look is easy but if you’re a student, or on a budget and think Christmas costs a bit too much already, fear not as we have 9 top tips for creating that insta-worthy Christmas wow on a budget.
1. Forage and find
Pine cones: Mother nature can really provide at this time of year so put on your cosy clothes and head outside with an empty bag. A walk in the woods in Autumn will net you a massive haul of pinecones which are the golden nuggets of Christmas decorations on a budget.
If possible, go collecting when it’s been dry for a few days as the pinecones will be relatively dry already which is much nicer than bringing soggy muddy ones into the house. Remember to pick cones of different shapes and sizes to add variety to your decorations.
Lay them out on a bag somewhere in the house and let them completely dry out. They are then ready to incorporate into your decorations au natural or, if it works better with your colour scheme, you could give them a light dusting of a glitter spray.
Tree branches: If you have gone for a real tree chances are you will have had to give it a wee bit of a haircut. If so, keep all the branches you cut off as they can be used for table decorations on Christmas day. You can either stand them in water to keep them fresh or let them dry out depending on the type of look you want.
It’s also an option to cut off fresh branches off the back of your tree on Christmas day, or off a Leyland type tree for really fresh table decorations!
Baubles: Baubles are so cheap nowadays and over the years you may have built up a collection that aren’t quite making the grade for the tree. Well, don’t chuck them, keep them as they make great fillers on decorations.
Ribbons: Any leftover bits of ribbons/trimmings, keep them as small lengths on their own aren’t much use but they can be made into small bows and added to your decorations.
2. Pimp my garland!
Garlands are a Christmas decoration staple but oh my are they overpriced! Garlands add serious wow factor because the lush greenery transforms your normal décor into a Christmas wonderland.
Drape them over fireplaces (or over an AV unit if you don’t have a fireplace!), console table or shelving units and up your stairs so you get a feeling of Christmas as you walk around the house. Why not even add one to the end of your bed! Hanging stockings from them adds a real personal touch and some extra warmth.
Now here’s the killer…a quality traditional luxury garland can be £75 plus for around 3m in length which is extortionate (and trust me it goes higher!). However, using your foraged finds you can easily create one to exactly your own tastes for a fraction of the price.
B&Q do a plain garland for £6 that is pretty bushy to start off with but for that price you could always double up for the luxe feel. Then add some battery powered fairy lights such as these ones that are only £6.99 for 5m. (You will need a longer length to cover the entire length of your garland once you wrap them around it.)
Make sure you go for battery because sods law you won’t have a plug nearby and apart from looking ugly, you don’t want wires trailing everywhere as a trip hazard.
Next add your foraged pine cones and leftover baubles to the garland which you can attach with florists wire. And for the finishing touch you could add leftover ribbon bows or any other little leftover decorations, such as wooden hearts or snowflakes that didn’t make the tree.
And there you have it, a bespoke luxury garland that is a fraction of the price and can be re-used year on year.
Tip: Add the lights to your garland then put the whole thing in position. Then add your decorative bits in situ so you can place your decorations in exactly the right spot and not have any hidden at the back. On a budget you have to make your materials go as far as possible!
3. Dress your door
Adding a wreath to your front door gives any guests a great first impression but more importantly gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling after a cold commute.
There is so much more choice in wreaths nowadays with some really nice versions in supermarkets, B&Q and the Range for less than £20. Again, wreaths can vary massively in price and the only thing that makes the expensive ones expensive is the amount of ‘stuff’ on them, which coincidentally makes them heavier and more of a pain to hang.
So just like with your garlands you can always opt for a cheaper simpler version and customise it if you want but even the simpler versions are so nice nowadays you probably won’t need to.
When it comes to hanging them, If you don’t have anything already on your door to hang it from and don’t want to put a nail through your door, then you can use these handy mini command hooks instead for a lightweight wreath. Pop one on the inside of your door at the top then hang your wreath on thin thread over the top of your door so you don’t have a visible fixing on the outside.
4. Dress your windows
The great thing about winter is the opportunity to be nosey! You can have a good old peak into people’s homes when the lights are on but it’s dark outside so why not give people something to look at and dress your windows for Christmas too.
Now I’m not talking snow spray (although by all means fill your boots if you like!) but a statement hanging decoration like this LED wreath from IKEA which is very stylish and cheap as chips at £7. The built in LED will give a lovely glow that can be enjoyed by those inside the house as well as the nosey ones on the street! Hanging it is easy too with just a bit of thread off a curtain pole.
5. Twinkle, twinkle little star
A simple and very cheap way to bring a bit of festive cheer to a dull corner is by adding a paper star. Now these are actually the incredibly cheap IKEA Strala star lamp shades but my tip is to ditch the lamp bit to give a very versatile decoration.
You can lean them against walls, nestle them in front of picture frames, pop them in a fireplace or on the hearth for example. They can be placed at floor level, on a tabletop, or strung up. Basically just dot them anywhere for a foolproof way to decorate all corners of your home.
IKEA change the designs each year with 2019’s being quite striking white and red versions. They come in 2 sizes, 48cm and 70cm and are priced at £3.50 and £4.50 respectively. You can’t really beat the price of these given how much of a statement they make!
6. Add a bit of fakery
Now, I know this blog is about every decoration apart from the tree but I’m going to sneak this one in because it’s super easy and will make a big difference. Whether you have a fake or real tree…neither have the prettiest feet.
So, grab some leftover boxes (cereal boxes, delivery boxes etc etc) and wrap them up with some beautiful festive wrapping paper. Use a few different designs of paper to give variation and place them under the tree. It will hide all the gubbins underneath and bring a little magic to the tree.
The only caveat is to teach any little people not to open them….and to remember which ones are the fake presents come Christmas morning. You don’t want the last present you open to be an empty box of corn flakes!
7. Showcase an advent calendar
Advent calendars have really stepped up a notch in recent years and while I’m not a fan of how every shop has commercialised this tradition with their own offering, I do feel the huge selection of fill your own advent calendars now available is great. You can tailor your treats and the myriad of different designs allow them to become a real feature of your Christmas decorations.
From quilted versions to wooden masterpieces, there’s something to suit all budgets and tastes and for the crafty folk there are a ton of make your own advent calendars that work out to be very cheap.
For this blog we are focusing on achieving ‘WOW’ Christmas decorations on a budget and the best way to do that is to go for an advent calendar that makes a bit of a statement and fills a decent sized space. So why not try our DIY advent village that would look great on top of a mantlepiece, AV unit, or hung from a garland and can all be made for the cost of some paper and Sellotape. You can even download the free template so all you have to do is cut the houses out and stick them together.
8. Dress your table
When hosting Christmas, you want everything to feel special and a lot of effort goes into dressing the table for Christmas lunch. A festive centrepiece adds that magical touch but you don’t have to go crazy. Keeping it simple and rustic is not only cheaper, but also more relaxing than having an overworked centrepiece that leaves no room to eat or see your guests over.
Lay some of your foraged tree branches, or even clippings from an evergreen tree along the length of your table. Place an odd number of candles (usually 3) along the length of your table as odd numbers always look best then add then place some pine cones and your leftover baubles around your candles. You can then roughly place tea light candles up the length of the table filling in any areas that look a bit blank.
Just make sure your candles and tea lights are in suitable holders and you don’t leave them unattended. This is a really quick and simple table decoration that can be done using your foraged and found items plus the cost of a few candles which are really cheap nowadays too.
9. Where to shop for wow Christmas decorations on a budget
You can buy decorations anywhere and everywhere but there are a few places that offer better value for money and it really pays know which ones they are.
Take for example the IKEA wreath for £7.50, Sainsbury’s also do a version but theirs is £17.50 and while the greenery is slightly more authentic, it doesn’t come with an LED. IKEA also do a non LED version for just £4. Finding savings like that is how you get wow Christmas decorations on a budget!
So, with that being said we might as well start with IKEA. The trick is to go here early as they do sell out of the statement pieces quite quickly because they are such value for money and oh so stylish. Get your metal wreaths from here, strala paper stars and candles.
If you are lucky enough to have a Range nearby go there now! They have a huge assortment of garlands and wreaths but their individual baubles and ornaments are truly exceptional quality for the price.
Tesco also do beautiful hanging decorations quite cheaply and usually have them on 3 for 2 which really helps. I am also in love with their super value wreaths.
B&Q offers some of the best value garlands ready for you to dress up and fab bauble multipacks.
There’s no more magical time in the year than Christmas and being on a budget or in rented accommodation doesn’t mean you have to forego amazing Christmas decorations.
So, I hope that has given you some inspiration so you can decorate your whole house using a few simple ideas and pieces to create your Christmas wow on a budget.
We would love to see your decorations so please share using #MWAVcrimbo