How to decorate for Christmas without damaging your space

Everything you need to know to add some festive cheer while keeping the paintwork intact

A Christmas tree with a mirror
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Getting ready to deck the halls and wondering how to decorate for Christmas without damaging your apartment? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Regardless of how into Christmas you are, the chances are that you’re not keen to damage your home (or annoy your landlord). 

Admittedly, we’ve all been guilty of causing accidental damage to our homes when it comes to decorating ahead of the holiday season. Just last year, I attempted to hang some festive bunting across my windowsill and ended up pulling off some of the paintwork, leading to my landlord taking some of my security deposit. 

The truth is that whatever your Christmas decoration ideas, whether you’re hanging lights or putting up ornaments, it’s far too easy to cause damage. But if you’re smart about how you approach the decorating process, you can avoid peeling off the paint or ripping the wallpaper. 

How to decorate for Christmas without damaging your apartment

Whether you’re working with a specific Christmas color scheme or you’re simply planning on hanging up as many decorations as you can fit in your apartment, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t cause any damage. The question is: what steps can you take to avoid the paint peeling off or the wallpaper getting marked? 

1. Use adhesive strips and hooks

Christmas wreath on wall with Christmas signs

(Image credit: Target)

The go-to for all renters for any type of decor is, of course, self-adhesive strips and hooks. But, here’s the thing, not all self-adhesive products are actually renter-friendly, there are some that will cause damage to your walls. How do I know? I’ve tried and tested most of them, and some just don’t do what they say on the packet. 

So, for best results, opt for the self-adhesive hooks and strips that have been tried and tested, and come with positive reviews. Understanding how to hang things in an apartment without causing damage is important when it comes to putting up your Christmas decorations. 

When it comes to choosing peel-and-stick hooks and strips, we always like to recommend ones we’ve tried and tested ourselves, like these peel-and-stick Command strips from Amazon or these easy-to-use Command hooks from Target that can hold up to 2.2kg. 

2. Opt for removable putty

Christmas decorations hanging on wall

(Image credit: Target)

Another alternative for hanging Christmas decorations without ruining your walls is to use removable putty. Pick the right putty and it won’t cause damage to your walls; it will adhere to walls and decorations, allowing you to hang a range of lighter items up, without marked walls or causing wallpaper to peel. 

When it comes to getting putty off the walls, you’ll be pleased to know that it should come off easily, regardless of whether it’s stuck to paint or wallpaper. However, should you have an issue removing it, we can recommend this Goo Gone spray from Amazon that dissolves putty and glue adhesives for easier removal. 

When it comes to choosing a putty to use, we always like to recommend this Loctite Fun-Take from Amazon, and this Blu-Tack adhesive putty also from Amazon

3. Try a tension rod

Christmas garland in doorway

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're keen to have Christmas decorations hanging down, such as within an archway or doorframe, but don't want to deal with any damage, a tension rod can be a great solution. 

If you've previously hung curtains in a rental apartment, then you might have used a tension rod before, and know how easy they are to use. The great thing about using a tension rod, like this adjustable tension rod from Amazon, is that they're extremely easy to use and won't mark walls or door frames. 

Keen to add some new festive decorating ideas to your home this Christmas? How about using a tension rod to wrap greenery, lights, and other decorations around, before placing it in a doorway or archway? This cute trend is all over TikTok and, honestly, it's got us a little obsessed. 

4. Don't hang lights

Mantle with Christmas decorations

(Image credit: Target)

The idea of hanging string lights from a hook in your home seems like a good idea but, unless you're using Command hooks, you're most likely going to end up damaging your walls with your fairy light design ideas

Instead of hanging your string lights (these remote-controlled, battery-powered string lights from Amazon would be perfect for this), consider displaying them inside a mason jar. Alternatively, lay them along a windowsill or across a table, to give your apartment a cozy festive glow. 


How do Christmas decorations damage walls?

Christmas decorations can cause damage to walls, paintwork, and wallpaper if they're not hung properly. For causing damage to walls, tape is one of the worst culprits as, when it's removed, it usually removes the paint or tears the wallpaper. While glue can discolor walls and wallpaper, leaving visible marks. 

How can I repair a wall that's been damaged by hanging Christmas decorations?

If you've already got a damaged wall, you'll be pleased to know that repairing it should be fairly easy. For paintwork that's chipped using putty or filler, like this wall repair kit from Amazon, should easily fix the issue. 

When it comes to hanging Christmas decorations without causing damage, it can be surprisingly challenging. 

The easy approach is simply to pop a nail in the wall wherever it's needed, but if you don't want to cause any damage you need to be a little more creative with your approach to decorating. 

The best way to ensure that your Christmas decorations for in your apartment don't cause damage is to think carefully about how you display them. Start by considering alternative options to using nails, and then take the time to pick out tried and tested products that you know aren't going to cause unexpected damage to your walls. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.