10 At-Home Decorations to Make for the Holidays

Craftiness is cooler than ever thanks to the proliferation of social media

By Jessica Abels

The biggest upside to the increased interest in DIY holiday décor, crafts and food preparation is cost savings. Whether a novice, expert or something in between, here’s how to create a festive home on a budget, so you can concentrate on the memories you’ll be making.

1. Double up

“I try to use things that do ‘double duty,’ which means I can either use them for two holidays or I can eat them when finished,” says Tracey McBride, the author of the “Frugal Luxuries” series of books published by Bantam. She decorates with glass bowls of apples, nuts, berries or rosemary, then uses them in the kitchen later.

2. Pick and choose

“Choose one room, or maybe the kitchen and one room, and choose one focal point to decorate and keep your collections together,” suggests Kelley Taylor, author of holiday-décor mainstay “Holiday Decorating For Dummies”. “Focus on one table or area or a fireplace. Don’t spread Christmas around the room.”

3. Take it up a notch

“I always like to elevate things when possible,” McBride says. “It gives something more prominence and makes it more special, and it doesn’t cost a thing.”

4. Get crafty

“Take old ornaments, spray them a different color and sprinkle on some glitter while it’s still wet,” suggests Shelley Wolson, author of “Budget Celebrations: The Hostess Guide to Year-Round Entertaining on a Dime” (Filipacchi Publishing, 2009). She also cuts up the cardboard tubes from wrapping paper and covers them with fabric or paper to use as napkin rings.

5. Color your home

When purchasing artificial flowers, Taylor says it’s more economical to avoid poinsettias. “Look for the colors instead of what the flowers are,” she says. For example, roses and amaryllis can be used for a variety of holidays throughout the year.


6. Save stuff to save cash

Think of creative ways to use leftovers. “Say you buy a box of candy canes and you don’t use them,” Wolson says. “Glue them around a coffee container or [other] container and you’ve got a really festive, cute way to hold flowers.”

7. Turn up the heat

Inexpensive white candles can be used any time, in any room, Taylor says. She keeps a drawer of them on-hand in her home. “They’re timeless and just make everything glowing and special,” she says.

8. Reap what you sew

Wolson has a friend who turned her daughter’s first-year Christmas dress into a stocking. “That way she was able to keep the dress and it was a really neat way to hold onto it,” Wolson says.

9. Make a list, check it twice

“Keep a list of what’s leftover, what you can use for next year. Print it out and store it with the box of ornaments,” Wolson says. “While you’re in the season and in the moment it’s good to think of things you want to do next year.”

10. Head to the kitchen

Create an idyllic holiday setting with a classic gingerbread house. And don’t stop at the house – think big. Trees, a village of gingerbread families, a flurry of snowflakes and a field of snowmen await you and your helpers.