It’s the most wonderful (and expensive) time of the year. The Bank of England has reported that, on average, we spend 29% more in December than in a typical month. It’s no surprise when you factor in the presents, food and drink, new clothes, parties and nights out. That’s before you think about giving your home a festive makeover. We all want our homes to feel extra special over the festive period but if you’re on a budget, looking at everyone else’s décor on social media, tv and in magazines can feel disheartening.
The good news is it doesn’t need to cost the earth. Here are some top tips for giving your home a stylish, festive makeover, on a budget:
1. Pick one room to update
You don’t need to decorate your whole house. By choosing just one room or space in your home to focus your festive décor efforts, you can create a big impact with just a few items.
If you aren’t sure which room to choose, think about where you will spend most of your time. Whether it’s snuggling up watching Christmas movies or hosting friends and family, you will want that space to feel extra special.
Once you’ve decided on the room, it’s time for the ‘great declutter’. Clear space for the extra pieces that you will be adding in. It’s great to start with a blank canvas so take out any ornaments, plants or vases and give the room a good clean.
If you plan to have a Christmas tree, you might also want to rearrange the furniture or remove some large items that will work in a different room for a few months. If there are things you don’t like any more, now is a great time to give them to charity or sell them on – you can put the funds towards your décor budget!
“We moved this bench and coffee table to another room and swapped the sofa and chairs around to create space in the bay window for the tree”
2. Decisions about the tree
A glorious tree alone can be enough to make any room feel festive and special. With decorations, quality over quantity is the key, so you won’t be tempted to buy a new set every year. Building up your collection slowly over the years is a lovely way to create memories.
If you’re starting from scratch, consider buying a real tree. It will be a lower up-front cost, with the added bonus of a lovely scent and can look great with just a few decorations. You can then allocate budget to some quality decorations that will be used again and again, adding to your collection each year. If you run out of budget and need some extra, the charity shops are a great place to look and you can always paint them if the colours don’t suit your scheme.
A real tree has been part of our tradition since we moved in together in 2017. They start from around £20 but I usually budget £50 - £60 as my motto is “the bigger the better” when it comes to a Christmas tree (much to the dismay of my husband) and we prefer the non-drop Nordmann Fir variety, which costs a bit extra.
We bought a full set of red and gold decorations for our first Christmas, with a £100 voucher that we got with our TV subscription. Then after around 5 years, I started to add to the collection, often with just one or two items each year that I really loved. I probably spent between £10- and £30 a year and now we have a really lovely set of special decorations.
Another option to consider is whether you want to invest in an artificial tree. The upfront costs will likely be a bit higher, but with careful storage it could last for years and ultimately save you money. My advice is to go for the best you can afford. This year I bought a £200 artificial tree for our new holiday let, which I know is a lot but we plan to use it year after year.
3. Buy and wrap presents early
Not only is it great to spread your spending and take advantage of seasonal sales, having your presents bought and wrapped early also provides some extra decorations. These will look great under the tree or piled next to a sideboard.
Wrapping with craft paper and accessorising with ribbons can look really chic, as well as being a cheaper option and better for the environment. You can get a 50 metre roll of craft paper for around £12 (or save up the paper that comes in those online delivery boxes for a free option!) and 10 metres of ribbon will cost around £3. You will also save on tags with this option, as you can write your Christmas message straight onto the paper.
Choose ribbons to tie in with the rest of your décor and make sure they don’t get thrown away when the presents are unwrapped. If you don’t have enough ribbon for all of your presents, just use them for the ones that will stay in your house for the longest period and stack those at the front to add some luxe. And you can plan ahead to save money (and be more eco-friendly) by keeping the ribbon you’re given on presents this year to reuse next Christmas.
If you’re going for a homemade, rustic theme, rather than glam, you can decorate the craft paper by hand stamping it or drawing on designs and wrapping them in string. A great activity for all the family!
4. Forage and reuse to create a mantle or sideboard display.
Instagram is full of impressive looking mantle displays and creating your own doesn’t need to be expensive. This display was created by foraging and reusing items. The only new purchase was the hydrangeas, which were a bargain £5 from a supermarket florist. Hydrangeas are a great option as they give a massive impact and if you look after them, they will last for up to 3 years once they have dried out.
The base of this display was made from offcuts from Christmas tree offcuts, plus ivy and berries collected from the garden. Foam bricks and plant pots were used to keep everything upright, then some artificial eucalyptus and paper decorations were carefully placed, along with the hydrangeas to create the final look.
5. One special piece
If you have some extra budget at the end, use it to splurge on one special piece rather than impulse buying lots of items that you might go off by next year or not be of a lasting quality.
You’ll know what you want to splurge on because it will be something you’ve seen and you can’t stop thinking about it. A well-made, quality item that will have sentimental value and be passed through generations. Something your family and friends will associate with you when they think of the festive period.
We have a few of these and they are so special to us. Frank, the Robin, has been with us for ten years now. I remember exactly when and where we bought him and where he has been displayed each Christmas since. He is one of our traditions and people always ask about him. A splurge but worth every penny!