Your Ultimate Guide to Decorating for Christmas on a Budget
Alright, y’all! Blogmas 2017 is officially in full swing and I’m coming in hot with the Christmas posts. No, not every post for the month of December will be Christmas vomit but you can expect a lot of them to be centered around all things Christmas! Anyways, this post specifically is for all of you procrastinators out there who haven’t even touched a Christmas decoration yet. Bonus points if you’re on a tight budget.
This post, the inaugural Christmas post of Blogmas 2017 on Darrian Michelle, is (are you ready for it?) your ULTIMATE guide to decorating for Christmas on a budget. Why do I call this the ultimate guide? Well, because I’ve done each and every one of these things myself. I used to be like you, sitting there, not wanting to put in the effort of decorating a tree because I knew it would cost money and the holiday season is fleeting. We often get this mentality that we don’t want to do something until we can do it perfectly and I would argue that this is especially true for matters of the home. That’s why I’ve thought up some of my best tips for decorating for Christmas on a budget to share with all of you! May this post get you into the holiday decorating mood (and keep you on budget of course)!
There's a pretty funny story behind why I splurged on this Christmas tree. It was my senior year of college so Christmas of 2013 and my roommate (shout out to Brittany if you're reading this) and I decided that we wanted to decorate the apartment for Christmas. The problem was that we had absolutely nothing to decorate with. Of course we knew we needed to start with a tree and thus we ended up going to our favorite place on Earth: Target. (Seriously we probably went to Target at least twice a week back then... well, nothing has changed for me TBH). Anyways, apparently everyone else had the same idea as us because when we got to the Christmas section they had NOTHING. No trees in sight. Except for this one which I ended up buying. This 6 foot tall Christmas tree that barely fit in our apartment... oh and it was $50. Which, some of you may not think that's a lot for a Christmas tree because I know their are definitely more expensive ones out there but to a broke college girl, that's a lot! So this leads me to my first tip:
Splurge on Items you use every year
Part of decorating on a budget is knowing where to splurge and where to save on decorations. One area where I highly suggest splurging is on your Christmas tree itself. While it may seem counterintuitive to pay more for something that’s only up for a few days a year it makes sense when you add up the cost of buying a new Christmas tree every year, especially if you’re buying a real tree. This tree that I purchased in 2013 has survived four moves and is still going strong. I don't plan on having to buy another Christmas tree for at least a year. It's sat in storage and it's been put up and put away. If you invest in the base of the decorations, it really doesn't matter what you put on it. Oh, and did I mention that this tree is pre-lit which makes ALL the difference when you're decorating. Nobody has time for dealing with strings of Christmas lights. Another item I definitely splurged on (even though it's also from Target) is the tree skirt. Unless some disaster happens to them, you don't need to replace a tree skirt every year so go ahead and invest in the one you really want that will last for Christmases to come!
Back to the story of decorating my first Christmas tree, we spent so much money on the tree itself that, being the broke college girls we were, we couldn't really afford to pay for anything to put ON the tree. We also had two cats and two dogs in the apartment and you can imagine that we weren't really willing to shell a bunch of money out on decorations that were most likely going to get broken at some point. So we decided to head to the local dollar store, which I think was a Dollar Tree, and check out their Christmas selection which leads us to our next tip:
Check out your local Dollar Store
My second and probably biggest piece of advice for decorating for Christmas on a budget is to never count out the Dollar Store. The Dollar Store is full of items that most people would typically overlook because, well, they're a dollar, but you can really find some inexpensive but great additions to your Christmas decor if you're willing to do a little bit of searching. The berries you see in our tree actually came from the Dollar Store back when I was in college! I also used the beaded string from the Dollar Tree to add more pops of red (I also bought these in college). My next project is going to be searching for that perfect ribbon to fill any unwanted gaps you can’t fluff away. You never know what you’re going to find there and I love love love this DIY Christmas art from The Crazy Craft Lady. Talk about an easy way to make your Christmas decor stand out!
We all love a good sale, right? Right! So naturally one of the biggest shopping days of the year happens on December 26th. Now, some years I go absolutely crazy like it's Black Friday and other years I'm super reserved in my spending. Last year, I actually picked up one of my favorite purchases ever after Christmas. Justin and I were in Alaska visiting his family and we had just gotten engaged about a little over a month prior to this. I had been eyeing these knit initial stockings from Target over the entire season but wasn't really willing to pay the money for them (and I could never find each of our initials in matching ones). Low and behold, when we went to Target while in Alaska to get our first wedding registry started I found these babies on sale for more than 50% off their original price and just knew that I HAD to have them. I've been waiting all year to put them up and it's definitely been worth the wait. So naturally, my next tip is:
Buy Christmas decor after Christmas
Like I mentioned, I got a huge discount on these incredible stockings just by waiting for them to go on sale after the holidays. While you could be running the risk of the store selling out of the item you wanted, I found they had a ton of stock left over at Target in particular so it definitely made waiting to buy these babies sweeter. You can buy all kinds of items at a great discount after Christmas and I would suggest thinking about those items that would typically be a splurge and making a plan to try and snag them after the holidays. Just because you didn't pay full price for something doesn't mean it isn't the same great quality as the full price one. (And with the money you've saved, you can hit up Starbucks on the way out of Target)!
I don't know about you guys but I'm a huge fan of the traditional red, green, and gold decor and that's what Brittany and I decided to stick with (mostly because of selection) when we went shopping all those years ago. I've branched out in the past and done different colors which is super easy to do when you have all of the pretty sets at Target glinting back at you like "Buy me, buy me!" but this year I decided that I wanted to go back to that more traditional look for a few reasons: one, it would look good with the decor we already have in the apartment and two, I knew that if we bought new decorations this year, we would use them again next year, and three, the colors matched my stockings better than the bulbs I already have. So I went to target and pick up two (yes, just TWO) packages of bulbs. We chose the small set of round bulbs and then the matching set that included that more whimsical ornaments.
Pick a theme and stick to it
You can go with a new Christmas theme every year if you want to but that honestly seems more stressful and more money than it's worth. And then you look back five years later and wonder how you got so many boxes filled with Christmas decor sitting in the basement that you now have to dig through every year before finding what you want (yes, I'm speaking from my childhood experience). Not only will picking a theme to stick to save you money in the long run but it will also be easier for you to plan out your decorations and the new items you need to buy or would like to add in every year. There are SO many Christmas decorations out there that it can easily become overwhelming when you're trying to decide what to buy but sticking to a theme will definitely help you out! Our theme is red, green, and gold with hints of rustic like our tree topper and the fur blanket I picked up at TJ MAXX. Spoiler Alert: I don't plan on changing this theme anytime soon.