Holiday Decorating and Preparation on a Budget

Just because money is tight doesn’t mean that holiday decorating is impossible. There are ways to fix up even the smallest living space to look pretty and festive. To create a little holiday cheer, here are a few thoughts on making your home or apartment look great during holidays such as Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanzaa. 

Make a wreath and hang it up 

Go over to the local craft store, especially when there are pre-holiday sales, and get tasteful, realistic greenery, florists’ wire, and a wreath form to attach it to. Make sure to get enough silk flowers or dried greens to cover the front and sides of the wreath. Variegated or multi-colored small leaves are a pretty accent to use. For the main greens, I love real eucalyptus because it has a nice smell and a pretty color, kind of a bluish grey-green. Sprigs of red berries are pretty, as are babies’ breath (many tiny white flowers on jointed stems). Space them all out and gently wire them onto the frame. They look really pretty and don’t cost that much to make. Add a ribbon bow later, if you like. I like gold and red patterns on mine, to contrast with the greens of the wreath. Place the wreath where it can be seen and enjoyed.

Strings of Christmas lights

Everywhere you look; there are various lengths of Christmas lights for sale. Get a few strings of them, with as many lights per string as possible, and an extension cord. Then, string them around in whatever area you want, whether it’s in trees outside (make sure the lights you buy are for outdoor use), or indoors. They can be put along the top of walls, to frame the room, strung on room dividing panels or on a bed frame. Try to fit them into areas so the cords aren’t overly noticeable, if possible. If you plan to use them against white walls, make sure to get white cords. Make sure the lights are out of the reach of small children and that you don’t use so many that you overload your circuits. They are great for giving a room a pretty, delicate glow at night. I like to buy strings of gold and white (clear) ones, and mix them together for added effect. If you’re having people over for dinner, supplement candlelit tables with tiny lights on the fringes of the room for a memorable entertaining atmosphere.

Make or bake something for friends and family

Homemade gifts come from the heart, and have a lot more thought behind them usually than the regular store-bought kind. Consider making something for those you care about. Someone I used to know used to make homemade, wooden Moravian stars as gifts to all her neighbors every year. My family still has theirs after thirty years. Something you may consider as insignificant may really mean something to the person you give it to. Talent doesn’t matter; it’s the thought that counts. I like to bake homemade yeast bread or plates of cookies for those I know on the holidays. Food is one gift that can always be appreciated. If you do bake, choose recipes that you know are tried and worthy of using. Otherwise, if the cookies from that new recipe turn out as tough as hockey pucks, it’ll take making another recipe altogether to rectify the problem. Basic white bread or raisin bread isn’t hard to make, and is not expensive. Baking anything is another way to make your home smell great, for the holidays. For me, I always bake homemade apple pie before guests come over on Thanksgiving or Christmas. It gives people a good, familiar feeling to smell cinnamon and apples cooking. 

Whether it’s hanging a few ornaments, tinsel and pine boughs in your office cubicle or decorating a big houseplant to act as a substitute Christmas tree, doing something different for the holiday can help the holiday blues and make the season more enjoyable. Life is too short not to enjoy ourselves, whether alone or with others. If you don’t have a big budget, allow yourself to have a little fun anyhow by being a little creative and coming up with your own way to enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate.

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