10 merry and budget Christmas decorating ideas – this is how to decorate on a shoestring

These are the most beautiful but budget Christmas decorating ideas we're trying this year to keep it cheap and cheerful

 Decorating with Danish-designed pieces, natural materials and lots of tactile textures has put heart and soul into Katie and Russell’s stylish home
(Image credit: Colin Poole)

There's usually the thought that getting your home ready for Christmas, goes hand in hand with a big spend on decorations. There's baubles to be bought, fairy lights to renew and tinsel (so much tinsel) to hang (tastefully) from absolutely every corner of your house. But contrary to what you might think, the best Christmas decoration ideas don't need to cost the earth, and there are so many ways to save on beautifying your home for the holidays.

It just takes a little thought and creativity. And, what's lovely about being a little frugal, is that not only will you save money while still making a great and gorgeous impact, but you'll likely be nodding to more eco-friendly ways of decorating also. So keep scrolling for our favorite budget Christmas decor ideas plus top tips from the author of This Girl Can Organise, Nicola Lewis.

1. DIY your advent calendars

DIY advent calendar using brown paper bags

(Image credit: Curated Living Limited)

Our love for DIY is simply amplified around Christmastime, and making your own advent calendar is not only an easy way to save cash (not to mention plastic) but it's also perfect to make something so much more personal to you, or to your lucky recipient. And, the bigger you go, the more decorative it is! These Swoosh craft paper bags are from Amazon and they make a great display.

Nicola Lewis says, "We love an advent calendar in our house. I like to use advent bags that you can get on amazon, which I reuse every year and fill it with items that I know my children will love and use."

"My children are teenagers now, so I will be putting make-up, bath bombs and sweets. I’ll be making an extra effort to find some goodies from Small Businesses. Amazon have a dedicated section on their site for SMB Gift – I’ll put a note or inspirational message in one of the bags to remind them that I love them and it just brings a smile to their faces."

Top tip: play to people's interests and support small business where you can! After all, Christmas is a time to put a smile of everyone's face.

2. Make your own plantable Christmas cards

plantable christmas cards

(Image credit: Photo by pure julia on Unsplash)

This is first and foremost a more eco friendly Christmas decoration idea, plus, iInvesting in plantable seed paper Christmas cards can not only be more pocket-friendly compared to some luxurious cards, but when they will, in turn, grow wildflowers, that's a 2 in 1 gift! 

We like these Nordic plantable Christmas cards available on Amazon but if you're feeling even more creative, you can purchase blank ones to decorate yourself!

From Nicola, "We haven't seen our friends and family as much this year, and it's nice to be able to send a Christmas card with a heartwarming handwritten message to them. I like to use plantable cards, which have seeds in them. Instead of putting the card in the bin, you can pop them in the garden, sprinkle some water, and you have some new flowers!"

Top tip - I like to use non-toxic stamps to decorate the cover and also find it very therapeutic

3. Decorate with greenery 

Nordic style table setting by George Home

(Image credit: George Home)

Greenery is usually free, especially if you have a holly bush, willow tree or  type of fir in your garden or local park. And, you only need a little to make a stylish impact on a dining table. So you could even just use some offcuts of your real Christmas tree. Plus, if you want to invest in a little dried eucalyptus from Etsy, it's fairly affordable, will last for years and looks great in the house, out of the winter season also!

4. Fashion your own table decor

fireplace decorated with natural Christmas decorations including brances, leaves and twine on a white backdrop

(Image credit: Photo Kasia Fiszer Styling Pippa Blenkinsop)

There's a lot you can do with what you already have, especially when it comes to Christmas table decor that has a little more personality. From leftover baubles (you know the ones missing the string), to old candle or jam jars, these all add interest, for free! Plus, any vessels like candle jars, you can fill with cute Christmassy trinkets or even turn them into placeholders and write each person's name on a small piece of card to pop inside. Cute.

Nicola's top tip: "I repurpose my old candle jars and turn them into table decorations. Fill the top with hot water, empty the wax and fill it with anything you have lying around the house—for example, pebbles from the garden, candles or lights."

5. Decorate every nook and cranny

Christmas decorated staircase

(Image credit: Neptune)

By giving every are in your house a little Christmas love, it can elevate your whole holiday vibe, without costing you a fortune. This beautiful staircase idea is created with just a few repurposed vases, candles, garlands and rustic Christmas decorations which you might have left at the bottom of the box. Proof that there is a place for everything, and it won't cost you any extra!

6. Make your own no sew stockings 

grey christmas stockings on a fireplace

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Stockings hanging from a Christmas mantlepiece in one of those cozy Christmas scenes that we all think about. And, making your own no sew or appliqué stockings is a really nice way to add a personal touch to your Christmas decor, without the big spend on a regular shop bought stocking. Plus, it's a great way to reuse any old fabrics you have lying around. Waste not want not after all.

7. Be original with your Christmas wrapping

brown paper christmas wrapping

(Image credit: Photographer: Kasia Fiszer Styling: Pippa Blenkinsop)

Gift wrapping is all part of the Christmas decor package, and if you choose to go fancy, it can be expensive! 

We love the authentic look of brown paper packages, while you can even reuse paper bags from Primark or other stores like Amazon, as Nicola suggests below, because this is one of the most simple, stylish, eco-friendly and cheap Christmas decor ideas going.

From Nicola: "I like to reuse the brown paper you get in your Amazon deliveries. I lay it out on the table with some books over it, and this year I will get the kids to draw on it and use it as wrapping for their grandparents. For my friends, I will keep it plain and wrap some twine around it and add some eucalyptus from my garden, so it smells nice and gives it a rustic look."

8. Make your own decor

stockings hanging from a mantlepiece

(Image credit: Neptune)

We've mentioned that we're into DIY Christmas decks and proof is in the pudding. Think outside the box, and take a little inspiration from far out budget Christmas decor ideas like this one. To recreate the look, you simply need to paint a leftover frame in gold or silver – depending on your Christmas decorating color scheme – and that gives off such a good effect, making it the perfect place to house a couple of hanging Christmas tree decorations and anything you'd want really. 

9. Be strategic with fairy lights

400 Warm White LED Cascading Christmas Lights by Hurn & Hurn

(Image credit: Hurn & Hurn)

We know how versatile Christmas fairy lights can be, and the way to get the most use out of a small bunch of lights is to place them thoughtfully. Cascading them looks amazing visually, while if you really don't have many to work with, or if some of the bulbs have gone, you could entwine them around a little foliage to help softly brighten up the greenery in a lovely subtle way.

10. Hang things high for more effect

Christmas dining room

(Image credit: Noa and Nani)

And it's not just about hanging fairly lights either. Think about the placement of all your Christmas decor and aim for height for more visual grandeur. We love these paper decks (which are fairly inexpensive also) and hanging them from above helps make the Christmas decor pop!

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Camille Dubuis-Welch

Camille is Digital Editor at Realhomes.com and joined the team in January 2020. As an interior design aficionado, when she’s not developing evergreen content and furiously researching keywords, she is most definitely finding new ways to spruce up her rented space, usually involving a houseplant or two. She loves the challenge that comes with making a room look stylish and feel homely, and her ultimate goal is to renovate the house of dreams, somewhere marvellously sunny with a wild and lavish garden, of course.