10 Tips For Frugal Christmas Decor

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so here are my top 10 tips for frugal Christmas decor, that will create a little magic in your home for the holiday season!

I absolutely love Christmas! There is so much joy in celebrating the birth of my Savior, and I love all the shimmer, bling, tinsel and lights that come with it. My heart comes alive just walking up and down the aisles of the Christmas section in stores. There is something about all of the colors and the sparkle and shine that sends me back to childhood, when Christmas was still magical.

It is, in my humble opinion, a little glimpse, a little foreshadowing of the glories of heaven. All the transcendent beauty associated with this season is a little peak into the eternal. In the middle of all the craziness of this year, the Christmas season could not have arrived at a better time. I think our hearts need this time to celebrate and remember the Incarnation of Christ, and to renew our hope in him!

So, how do you create a magical ambiance on a limited budget in celebration of Jesus’ birthday? The idea is to use low cost, high impact items to create something much more than the sum of its parts. I have no qualms about using dollar store and thrifted items in a creative way that produces a breath taking end result. You just have to use your imagination and think outside the box! Here are a few tips that I have come up with over the years, in order to curate a little taste of transcendence without breaking the bank!

10 Tips For Frugal Christmas Decor:

#1 Lights, Lights…and More Lights!

If you can’t afford to do anything else to prepare your home for this season, just drape Christmas lights over anything that doesn’t move. I don’t think there is a better way to create a feeling of magic than with the soft, warm glow of stringed lights. You don’t have to have a crazy, over the top scheme with your Christmas lights. The simplest possible thing you can do with them, is to hang them around the door frames and windows of your room. It creates a beautiful frame of light that dances and reflects off the glass. Everywhere you look will be a cascade of shimmering sparkles.

Most of the time I prefer white lights with a white cord, but just use whatever you have. Starla and Sierra experimented with red lights and it turned out so lovely and festive! White lights will always be my favorite, but feel free to play around with color as well. You can get Christmas lights anywhere and almost all stores will put them on sale at some point. Buy low and stock up!

#2 Ribbon!

I love to use wire-edged ribbon to change up the over all theme of my Christmas decor. Each year, I always use the same ornaments, with all the colors of the rainbow. But just by using different colored ribbon, it changes the entire look of my Christmas decor. This is one of the key elements for my 10 tips for frugal Christmas decor. It turns out, you don’t have to buy all new stuff to change up the look.

Ribbon can be draped over gift boxes, or twisted into curls that cascade down the side of your tree. It makes lovely garland, or of course, you can make big, lovely bows. The possibilities are endless. Think about the cost per linear foot and the options you have. That is a lot of bang for your buck and the very definition of a low cost, high impact item!

In addition to wire-edged ribbon, I have also used curly ribbon that you would normally use for gift wrapping. It’s such a simple thing, but I love to use it to hang ornaments from my light fixtures and curtain rods.

#3 Wrapping Paper!

There are so many possibilities with wrapping paper, beyond simply wrapping presents. Use it to line the back of book shelves to add festive colors and patterns. Place a lovely wrapping paper into a frame and mount it on the wall. Use it as a table runner. Wrap your front door. Lots of possibilities, lots of square footage, for not a lot of money makes wrapping paper a perfect addition to my list of 10 tips for frugal Christmas decor.

So, we have a really awkward little landing in the dormer window over our living room. We have vaulted ceilings that soar up to around 24 feet, and the landing is about 15 feet up. It gives us really wonderful natural light, but most of the year, I have no idea what to do with that space.

However, this little nook really shines during the Christmas season. Every year, I start collecting empty boxes and cover them with really lovely wrapping paper so that I can fill that space. Then I cover the stack of gift boxes with lights and ornaments and it always turns out so lovely! A wreath and a frame of twinkling lights completes the look and it is utterly enchanting!

#4 Beads!

In the past, I would use ropes of beads as garland on my tree and it was so lovley! But frankly, it was always such a royal pain in hiney to try and unravel them. One year, I nearly lost my mind trying to detangle a mass of hopelessly tangled beads. So, I decided from that point on, I would simply throw the tangled mass into a bowl, drape some over the side and call it a day. And it is stunning! It almost always makes me think of treasure, like the gifts the Magi brought to offer baby Jesus. This is such a simple, frugal way to decorate and the result is spectacular!

#5 Garland!

If I had my way, I would gladly drape garland from every corner, and over every surface of my home. I love the traditional look that big, lush garlands create, but they are often really pricey. Honestly, I just can’t see myself spending the money on garlands that look real, even though they are so lovely! However, even the cheap garland can look really good if used properly. I like to hang some of them over windows, and others I will drape over surfaces. When you dress them up with lights, beads, and Christmas ornaments, they look fabulous. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get the look of greenery in your home!

And of course, if you have some evergreens in your back yard, you could make your own. As always, if you are thinking about investing in the really authentic looking garlands, the best time to buy is right after Christmas. Think ahead to the next year’s Christmas season and stock up while the stores are trying to get rid of all their inventory.

#6 Fabric!

This is yet another item that comes in yardage, so you can get a lot of use out of it.  You can catch it on sale, check out the remnant bins, or just buy a small piece for a little added detail. Recover pillows with seasonal fabric. Drape some on the wall or over furniture to give it some Christmas cheer! This can also include items like your tree skirt and stockings. These are simple things that can change the look of your Christmas decor.

For the last several years, I have collected throw blankets and this year, they have added lovely colors and patterns to my living spaces. Growing up in Ohio, we always had throw blankets to cozy up with during the winter, and they make me feel so nostalgic for home! To change things up, I even used one as a tree skirt this year. I wanted to buy a new skirt for our Christmas tree, but instead of paying $40 at Target, I spent $12 at Dollar General for a throw blanket, and it turned out so pretty!

#7 Ornaments!

Even the cheapest Christmas ornaments from your local dollar store can be beautiful. My philosophy on ornaments has always been more is more. I love to load down my tree and I feel like abundance is always a good idea at Christmas. The trick is to cover that tree with a ton of your cheaper ornaments, then add a few key, nicer ones in prominent places. This way, they are the featured pop of color, sparkle and bling on your tree. The other trick to keep in mind with cheap(ish) ornaments is that you can always place them in a bowl or glass container and it makes a really lovely vignette. You can also string them up in a window like little pieces of jewelry…lovely!

#8.) Nature!

Take advantage of God’s free gifts of natural elements!  Think about how you can use sticks, pine cones, acorns, or ivy to create no-cost Christmas decor. I have used branches from our boxwood trees to fill vases and as the greenery on a Christmas hoop wreath I made a couple of years ago. This year I collected wild vines from our woods to create natural wreaths as well as two tomato cage Christmas trees. There is something so satisfying about creating with the things we have all around us. And it’s free! You just can’t beat that!

Christmas Hoop Wreath - Life Full and Frugal

#9 Make an Ugly Duckling a Swan!

My husband and I did a major renovation on our house back in 2014. But before we did that project, we had a super 90’s chandelier in our dining room. It was really not my taste, but I embraced the ugly duckling, and I found a way to make it a swan. It looked like an up-side-down Christmas tree anyway, so I decided to cover it in Christmas ornaments. It turned out surprisingly pretty! Sometimes you just have to look at things from a different perspective and you might be surprised by the results. Both our living room and our dining room have ceiling fans now, but we have continued the tradition of decorating them for Christmas and I love it! Sparkle and drama! What’s not to love?!

#10 Work With What You Have to Create Frugal Christmas Decor!

The last of my 10 tips for frugal Christmas decor is to just use what you have. Just like you can shop your closet for a “new” outfit, you can shop your house! Use pitchers, serving bowls and trays, or break out your china and display it in a festive manner. You don’t have to go out and buy all new stuff in order to create magic in your home for the Christmas season. Break out all your wedding stuff packed away and collecting dust in the back of your closet. Put candles in jelly jars or empty flowers vases. Grab a mirror or a picture frame from another room or swap some furniture around. No matter what your budget looks like, you really can create frugal Christmas decor that will delight your heart and set the tone for a season of celebration!

My Last Tip for Frugal Christmas Decor:

The last tip I want to share with you is to just relax and have fun decorating your home. Be gentle with your heart! This year has been really difficult so don’t stress our over your Christmas decor. I love this time of year, but I know for some, it can be very painful. I think that adding some Christmas cheer to your home can be a healing ointment for an aching heart.

Don’t despair and don’t lose heart. Think about how Jesus came down from heaven to make his dwelling among us! He lived a stunningly beautiful life for us to follow and imitate, and he gave up his life for us! It is a breathtakingly majestic story for all of us. Even more, Jesus rose from the grave on the third day and was ascended to heaven after he reappeared to his dear friends and disciples.

I think we miss out on this part of the story a lot. His resurrection and ascension are the fullness of his power and a reflection of what he wants to do in our lives. He wants to resurrect our broken hearts and heal all the wounded places in our lives. His desire is to raise us up to reflect his image through his ascension power. That is stunning. His birth, his life, his death and most of all, his resurrected life is worth celebrating.

Have fun decorating your home. Play Christmas music. Light candles. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life or White Christmas while you’re decorating. Let your heart be glad and blessed.

Merry Christmas!!!! ~Shanna



  1. Sierra

    Shanny, this is wonderful! Very, VERY inspiring! Your house looks amazing! You have got the touch, girl friend. Love you!

  2. kcrigal

    I missed this one in December! I wanta see the pictures BIG guh! 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  3. lifefullandfrugal

    Ha! Yes, I agree…not sure what happened when I uploaded these pictures…I’m not technically savvy! I’ll have to figure out how to fix them…hopefully. 😉 Thanks for stopping by, girlfriend! =)

  4. Jersey

    I love all the tips, I need to use more ribbons! I adore soft lights, makes anything looks special 🙂

    • Shanna

      Thank you, Jersey! They really do make anything feel special! God bless you sweet friend! =)


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