For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with Christmas. Not just the day, but the entire holiday season—there’s something so special about this time of year that puts me in a jolly mood. I love the giving and loving spirit of people during this time, I love driving through neighborhoods, seeing them all lit up. I love getting together with family and friends. If I were to continue, it would go on for pages! But aside from spending time with my loved ones, my favorite thing to do is decorate.
As we grow up and move away from our childhood homes, there may be holidays we have to spend away from family and friends—for me, this is my first Christmas away. And even though it will be difficult, I know I can still enjoy Christmas and Christmastime by surrounding myself with beautiful embellishments to lift my spirits. One thing that always brings me such joy during the holidays is sitting in a room lit with Christmas lights with the scent of a fresh Christmas tree. Add some hot cocoa and a Christmas movie, and I couldn’t be happier!
Since those of us in our 20s usually don’t have buckets of money to throw at things like Christmas decorations, especially during this time of year, this is how I plan to decorate and save money while doing so.
For me, one essential decoration is, of course, the Christmas Tree. I’ve found that real trees are far cheaper short-term than artificial trees if you shop for a good deal, even though they only last one season. You can go to a hardware store and find real trees as cheap as $25 for a 6’ tree. Now, if you’re planning on investing in a tree to continue using year after year, then artificial is the way to go, but expect to pay more upfront. I personally prefer to get a real tree. It’s so much fun going and picking one out, even though I just go to Home Depot and not the forest to chop one down, but hey, it’s still fun. And oh, how I love the scent of a real pine tree during Christmastime—why spend money on buying sprays and candles when you can get the natural pine smell for free from your tree!?
This time of year, practically every store you go into has aisles and aisles of Christmas decorations—I’ve seen stores selling Christmas decorations since September! But if you’re looking to decorate on a budget, be aware of where you are shopping. It may be easiest to go to Target and get everything there, but they do not always have the greatest deals: I also check out places such as IKEA and the dollar store… yes, the dollar store! You can find some great things like wrapping paper, bows, garlands, stockings, and great little stocking stuffers that other stores tend to mark up. Michael’s is always one to have great sales during this time of year for quality products. If you’re more of a DIY type, Michael’s is definitely the way to go.
If you enjoy decorations but aren’t much of a decorator, invite friends and make a night of it. Every year, my family would put our Christmas tree up together. We would make a big fun evening out of it, with snacks, eggnog, music and Christmas movies. Last year when I moved to LA, it was the first time I wasn’t home to decorate my family tree, so I decided to keep that idea going by inviting my friends over. I got a bunch of ornaments and paint pens, and we spent the night designing our own ornaments, stringing popcorn, and hanging them on the tree. Creating your own ornaments is not only inexpensive, it’s a perfect way to personalize your tree. Year after year you will hang the ornaments and think of the memories creating them. It’s really simple and fun—and for those of you who think you wouldn’t be good at it, it’s really a lot easier than you think. You can buy glass balls or plastic (plastic is cheaper, but I prefer glass). Grab some permanent markers, paint pens, glue, fake snow, glitter pens and really anything else you can think of! One of my favorite ways to decorate an ornament is to draw a design, like a snowflake, with glue and sprinkle artificial snow on it. It takes a plain decoration and makes it much more festive. I also love taking off the top of the ornament and pouring artificial snow or Epsom salt in it. Or simply use permanent markers, glitter pens, or paint pens to draw designs on it. Last year, my friends and I signed one of the glass ornaments and dated it. That one puts a smile on my face every time I see it.
I also love to hang garland around the house, but instead of plain bows of evergreen, I like to spruce up my spruce by twisting them with sets of lights. I also like to add extra Christmas color to my garland with berry garland. The little red berries pop, adding a nice festive touch.
If you don’t want to go all out, you can always add small accent pieces scattered around your place. Candles and hand towels add a little something extra that’ll get your holiday spirit up! They even make Christmas cookie candles, so you can make it smell like you just baked, even if you haven’t gone near your oven in months. (But, like with the smell of a fresh pine tree, you can always opt for the real things and bake some fresh cookies instead!)
Photo by Rob Adams