5 renter-friendly Christmas decorating ideas that are perfect but not permanent — here's how to style them

Wait and see: these renter-friendly Christmas decorating ideas make a statement without a mark

beige and white living room christmas decor focusing on the couch in front of a window with trinkets placed about
(Image credit: Getty Images/Liudmila Chernetska)

Trust us, renter-friendly Christmas decorating ideas will look merry and bright, all while keeping cleanup simple, and most importantly, damage-free. You don't want Santa and/or your landlord to put you on the naughty list for drilling holes, do you?

There's a lot to love about Christmas decor, but sometimes certain fixtures require a little bit of maintenance, and in turn, could leave your abode scuffed. We've provided you with the proper tools for how to decorate for Christmas without damaging your space (bless you, Command Strips) but now we need to focus our attention on the styling, a.k.a. the fun part. 

Take your holiday textiles out of storage and scale down the spruce — it's go time, dear friends. 

Renter-friendly Christmas decorating ideas

When it comes time to put your decor on display, Stacy Brown, director of training at Real Property Management, a Neighborly company, suggests one thing: freestanding fixtures. Use side tables, like the Room Essentials' Wood and Metal Round End Table from Target, or perhaps an unattached mantel, like the Zachary Non-Combustible Fireplace Mantel at Wayfair, to set up shop and make a statement. 

"Enhance the décor with flowers, fresh-cut greenery, and exterior embellishments like wreaths or window clings, all without causing any lasting marks," she says. 

Once you're done setting up your trinkets and vases, take that holiday look to a new level with these renter-friendly ideas.

Stacy Brown
Stacy Brown

Stacy has been utilizing her background in professional property management throughout the country since 1991 (Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Arizona, Missouri, Kansas, Georgia and Florida) to support Real Property's franchises in their growth and success. As a current member of Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and Community Associations Institute (CAI) and having served on numerous committees within the Nevada CAI chapter, she is able to guide the franchises in their endeavors.

1. Use a small or vertical Christmas tree

a tabletop christmas tree next to a window with white blinds and in front of a dark orange wall and wooden accent piece

(Image credit: Getty Images/Kseniya Ovchinnikova)

The star of the show could be one of the more difficult Christmas decor picks to keep in a rental, especially one that might be cramped and shared with roommates and pets. Rather than channel the Rockefeller Center tree, scale back and make a statement with something small. (Yes, it's possible.)

"Opt for tabletop Christmas trees or houseplants as mess-free alternatives to traditional trees," Brown suggests. 

And if you need a little extra convincing to select something on the smaller side, let our expert-backed tips for how to fit a Christmas tree in a small space guide you. Whether you go for a vertically friendly selection or clear a living room corner for your greenery, we promise these words of wisdom won't let you down.

2. Stack freestanding framed pictures

a mantle with a christmas picture and trinkets stacked up against one another

(Image credit: Target)

Put away the hammer and nails, and yes, even the Command Strips. Don't be afraid to stack framed seasonal artwork side by side and next to other trinkets on the mantle or bookshelf — no holes or mess in sight. The Desenio Holiday Collection offers plenty to love. (It's possible there are a few things in our cart as we speak.) And if you also have snow on the brain, the 10"x10" Framed Let it Snow sign from Target is a must for shopping carts.

3. Swap out your staples

living room with a ladder display and christmas tree and a white couch with christmas pillows on it

(Image credit: Walmart)

You'd be surprised how swapping out a few simple staples can completely change the look and feel of your place. Replace the bland beige doormat with something Santa-approved, add velvet or knit throws to your couch, and enjoy faux fur accessories for an extra-cozy touch. We're in love with this farmhouse find — the Christmas Tree Winter Pillow Cover — from Walmart. (JSYK, we found all of the Walmart Christmas decor bringing the vintage vibes this year.)

4. Choose a fairy light alternative

Light-Up Mercury Glass Globe in front of spruce branches and a window overlooking a snowy space

(Image credit: West Elm)

Fairy lights and string lights might be all the rage, but there are definitely concerns when using them, namely what's going to happen to your wall when you take them down. Bypass any potential wall problems with your landlord and go the freestanding route. Decor picks like West Elm's Light-Up Mercury Glass Globe will give the glow you're searching for on a cold winter's night — it's one of our favorite selections from the dazzling 2023 West Elm Christmas collection.

5. Use a Christmas card holder

Christmas decor on a dresser including a lamp, trinkets, a wall poster and a brass scalloped christmas card holder

(Image credit: Target)

Your collection of cards and photographs from loved ones might be taking up too much real estate on the fridge, so gather them all with a (freestanding) card holder that complements your decor all while showing off your nieces and nephews in their Christmas gear. We partial to this Pottery Barn Christmas Tree Card Holder — speaking of which, the viral Pottery Barn Christmas collection is worthy of all the likes — and this 22" Scalloped Metal Christmas Card Holder from Target


How to decorate rental apartment for Christmas — where do I start?

When decorating a rental apartment for Christmas, the first thing you'll have to concern yourself with is whether or not your decor will cause any permanent damages that might be frowned upon by the landlord (like putting holes in the wall when hanging garlands). Once you've figured out the pieces that you'd like to use — ones that won't affect the space — clean up your apartment, measure things out, and start setting up shop. You'll like freestanding objects that are able to be stored (think trinkets) because there's no effect on the space. Opt for a Christmas tree that use more vertical space than horizontal space if your home is tiny. Remember not to overcrowd a space — less is more, and designers agree on it. 

Is it worth decorating a rental for the holidays?

It is absolutely worth decorating a rental for the holidays; the important thing is to choose decor that won't scuff up your place, should you not be the owner, and pick goodies that bring you happiness and make your guests feel at home. If you're wondering what to do once January 1st rolls around, fear not: we asked experts how to store Christmas decorations in a small space.

According to designers, there are plenty of mishaps that we're all capable of come the holidays. Make sure to spruce up your knowledge about everything not to do before decorating a small space for Christmas. It'll save a lot of time in the long run!

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.