My first Christmas after I was married, I made a wreath with my sisters-in-law as a project where my mother-in-law provided the supplies. I still use that wreath; for years it hung on my front door, and now it hangs in my kitchen over my stove. It was made with an inexpensive wreath from Michael’s ($4), pinecones from my mother in law’s yard (some of which were painted gold with spray paint), some ornaments, a ribbon bow, a few sprigs of gold and white balls, and a faux bird.

Christmas Kitchen 1 The Prudent Homemaker 

Here are a few ideas to deck the halls and spruce up your house for less:

Christmas Piano The Prudent Homemaker


Christmas Music Star Garland The Prudent Homemaker

Use paper

Make garlands, bunting, or paper chains. Make wreaths and miniature trees. Make paper ornaments. Print out some free images to hang or frame. 

If you want Christmas music, print some out before making your project. The Graphics Fairy has lovely free images. Here’s a beautiful tree topper project from there.

Check out my Christmas crafts Pinterest board for lots of fun ideas to make with paper.

Lemons in the kitchen The Prudent Homemaker

Decorate with fresh seasonal fruit

Use a bowl or a cake stand to display apples, pears, oranges, clementines, or lemons. Nuts in the shell are another great seasonal option that lasts even longer. 

 Pinecones in Bowl The Prudent Homemaker

Decorate with fresh greenery from your yard

Use any evergreens you have in your yard to tuck on pictures, on gifts, in vases, and in displays. Make a wreath on a wreath form or on a wire hanger, or make a fresh greenery garland. Collect pinecones and use them in your displays. If you don’t have evergreens, see if a friend has a tree or two in need of a trim who will allow you to trim from their trees.

Wreath in Window The Prudent Homemaker 

Invest in some artificial greenery 

This doesn’t have to be a lot, and it doesn’t have to be all at once. 

Michael’s carries inexpensive wreaths and garland. These are currently 50% off this week. The 24 inch wreaths are $3.99. They also have a 9 foot garland that is $2.99 this week. Closer to Christmas, these can go even lower; I paid $2 each for 2 wreaths like this years ago that I hang in my windows.

Christmas Living Room The Prudent Homemaker

Depending on where you live, an artificial tree can be a long-term money saver (bought on sale or clearance to begin with, of course). If you live where you can cut your own trees for $5, a fresh tree is a cheaper option. Our current tree is 9 years old, and we bought it for $80 as a display piece a week and a half before Christmas.

Christmas Ribbon The Prudent Homemaker 

Use and reuse ribbon

Over the years, my husband has received a few gifts at work of goodies wrapped with beautiful ribbons. I’ve saved the ribbons to use on presents every year. They’re also useful to decorate the house.

Christmas Books The Prudent Homemaker

Most craft stores have their Christmas ribbon 50% off this week, if you are looking to buy a spool of ribbon to use for many years.

Christmas Stockings detail The Prudent Homemaker

Sew it yourself

Whether you’re making stockings or oranaments for your tree, there’s a free pattern out there that you can use to whip something up for less than the storebought version. I love Pinterest for this.

I made these stockings for my family using a bit of a painter’s drop cloth, some fancy stitches on my sewing machine, and some embroidery thread to make the hooks.

Christmas Candles The Prudent Homemaker 

Display what you have

Cookie cutters, twine, spools of ribbon, mixing bowls, loose jingle bells, cake stands and candles–all can be used in creative ways as part of your Christmas display.

Clementines The Prudent Homemaker

Christmas Bust The Prudent Homemaker

For this bust, I added a child-sized vintage collar (put on backwards) and a vintage Christmas pin. These belonged to my grandmother and to her mother. 

For more more frugal decorating ideas, check out my Christmas Inspiration board and my Christmas Crafts for the Children board on Pinterest.


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  1. Brandy, you house look so wonderful all decked out for Christmas! I’d like to add that the after Christmas sales are also a perfect time to grab up some items, like wreaths, garland, ribbons etc., at super low prices (sometimes up to 90% off!). That is how most of my Christmas decorations were bought. When we bought our first house, I always loved getting out the decorations each year, as I usually forgot what I had bought on sale to tuck away for the next year. It was such a pleasant surprise to see what was in there!

  2. Very pretty! Christmas decorating doesn’t have to cost much. We reuse things from year to year. Some of our decorations have been passed down for a few generations. We use a lot of natural materials that we find in the yard too; like birch bark, pinecones and cuttings from our evergreens. Love the paper garland!

  3. Wonderful ideas!

    I am going to throw this into the mix for those who may not have access to greenery from your own yard. Try looking around Christmas tree lots or grocery store/home improvement store parking lots where Christmas trees are sold. Oftentimes branches will break off when the trees are being loaded/unloaded & tied to cars, so there are usually large pieces of greenery scattered around on the ground. Just yesterday I was at the grocery store & saw several nice size totally usable Christmas tree branches on the ground between parking spaces.

  4. Great post, thanks as always. It reminded me of the Christmas after I graduated college. I was moving out of my apartment in January so didn’t want to retrieve my decorations that were in storage. I bought a spool of white yarn, one box of white lights and a small tree. I tied bows onto the tree using the yarn. To this day, I still add a white yarn bow to my tree.

  5. As a person that does not decorate for a holiday, but rather for a season, I still got some great ideas that I can use throughout the winter season for my home. Living in the Deep South, we have an abundance of evergreens that I can change out as often as needed to get through the whole season and more than enough pine cones to decorate every flat surface and wreath I could ever have or want! Thanks for the ideas and your home is beautiful.

  6. Yes you can! We got 7 trash bags of evergreen scraps from the local Christmas tree tent just by asking, and being willing to pick it up ourselves. Which made for a beautiful Christmas party with heaps of evergreen everywhere.

  7. Your home is so pretty. I have enjoyed looking at the pictures of your home as much as reading the ideas for decorating. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Brandy,

    I loved your post and loved seeing more of your beautiful home. What a great idea of the paper stars made out of music paper. How lovely! I also posted about simple and inexpensive Christmas decorating ideas but I must confess I like yours ever so much more. It is such a blessing to have a online community to learn from and be inspired by. Thank you!

  9. Can I second waiting until after Christmas if you can to buy things? We got out 6-foot fake tree for $9.99 on clearance after Christmas and I have bought 9-foot greenery garlands several years for right around $1 each after Christmas. My parent’s neighborhood does huge light displays (they’re known in their town for the displays). They moved there with a single strand of outdoor lights – we lived in the country and didn’t put much up. They bought 6 bush wraps, light-up candy canes to line the driveway and walk, lights for the eves and the pillars for about $50 total after Christmas.

    For several years I bought one item each year and continue to use them each year. I acquired several more items from a friend that was moving and my children have made many decorations over the last few years.

    Thanks for the beautiful reminders, Brandy. Sometimes it’s easy to think we need way more than we really do!

  10. The last Christmas we were in Vegas, there was a Christmas tree stand set up in a vacant lot near us. They gave me all the branches I wanted, as they were just going to go in the trash. I stopped three different times and gathered up what they had (even though I didn’t actually buy a tree from them!).

    We’ve been going to the same vendor for four years. They sell undecorated balsam wreaths for $12, whereas the decorated ones are $35 and up. They also happily give me their tree trimmings and tell me to come back if I need more, as they make a pile everyday that is thrown out if no one wants them.

    Most of my holiday decor is handmade, hand-me-downs or purchased on clearance. I try to budget each year for lights and buy solid colored strands when they hit 75 percent off or more. I have two red LED strands that I use for Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Independence Day. I paid $3 each.

  11. Myra, I like the idea of decorating for a season. I hate to spent a lot of time putting up and taking down. I always linger taking the decorations down till the end of January. Several years because I have an artificial tree we kept it up until February. I recently read that Queen Elizabeth does not take her decorations down until after Feb 6th in memory of her father. Again seasonal is a great idea!

  12. My family had our artificial Christmas tree for 20 years before it gave up the ghost! I never understood why there were news articles were saying real trees were better until I realized they were assuming you tossed out your artificial one after just one Christmas! But after our artificial tree was “retired”, we decided to get real trees instead and there is something magical about the fresh scent of pine.

  13. I second the compliments. Beautifully done!
    I like to use things from my yard, too. I have two grape vines and made grape vine wreaths which I’ve used for at least 10 years — they last and last. I just insert cut greenery into the woven vines to cover, wire on cones, holly, etc., and a bow, which, like Brandy, I make from ribbon saved from year to year. I also save wired ribbon that comes on gifts to use, set out citrus fruit or pine cones from our yard, and try to find ways to make as much as I can. I love a homemade Christmas, and Brandy’s is beautiful.

  14. I love your kitchen counters! They set the stage for wonderful decorations. Mine are laminate but will do. Love the window and moldings – another one of my dreams. I have come to the conclusion your use of White in the blog keeps me coming back. I love it. You got me reminiscing on how being frugal in the past has helped make this a wonderful Christmas.

    Christmas and winter holiday decorating has always been special at our home like all of you. We have had many Christmases behind us and only a small number ahead. We have had live and artificial trees. Here are some of the ways we have saved on Christmas decorations beyond making them through the years. Keep in mind you are building for future years.

    [b]Free and Shopping Sales[/b] – One year the house we rented had been a Christmas tree farm. That year we gave a variety of trees away plus we had 3 trees decorated in the house – living room, kitchen and our son’s room and all strung with popcorn. Having a tree in the boys’ room became a tradition for several years. They loved sleeping under the lights. Our grandson loves to do that now. Another year we purchased close out artificial trees for a couple of dollars and they threw in ornaments on Dec 24. We did not have the money that year and had moved to Florida. Thus we were out shopping at the last minute. We were able to have a wonderful tree with ornaments and purchased 2 for other people. The most recent artificial tree I purchased the year my husband had a surgery in Dec. I could not get the other tree and decorations out. Being a Costco Executive Member I just purchased it there. Remember being frugal is not equated with poverty. The goal is to get out of poverty. Costco sells many of its items at least 30% off the retail price. Plus I knew I would also get the 2% savings in the annual rebate check. It is simple to put together tree and of a commercial grade. It will last years. I also purchased a container of ornaments that all match. We had never had that before. It is easy to set up and take down and stores well. We have used it 7 years. This year we are being frugal and using what we have collected through the years.

    [b]Buying and Selling[/b] – Costco for us has paid for itself in a variety of ways. My method of purchasing items is on sale, garage sales and auctions as most but my very favorite way is through a small business. Here is an example. For several years my husband and I did a traveling jewelry and gift boutique. It was a fun way on weekends to give us bonus money. At Christmas we bought Costco snow globes and added to the items we sold. They sold well. We were surprised to see so many people were not Costco members. Beyond the obvious cash rewards of the business, it helped us gain some wonderful items for our home at steep discounts and snow globes are one of them. I have always enjoyed doing a small business that makes extra money as well as gives us some wonderful items for the home and great gifts at significant discounts. I am a firm believer in multiple revenue streams. Then when one dries up there are still several running. Another way was we spent years going to garage sales and auctions. We sold on eBay and brought in the extra needed cash. It was also a great way to build wealth through collections including Christmas collections.

    [b]Purpose of Frugal for Me[/b] – Remember when being frugal that you have an opportunity to build for the future as well. We know in this decade of our life [70s] we don’t have the energy to hunt for items but will be selling down some of the collections to pay for the extras we need and want. Being frugal at all economic levels is an important principle to maintain. Remember to build for the future plus continuing to be frugal. This blog helps keep me on the path of frugal.

  15. Brandy – Where did you find the knight’s helmet??? I make renn costumes and would LOVE to have something like that in my sewing room 🙂

  16. Your house looks beautiful! I love finding new ways to decorate for less. My favorite way is to buy the berry sprigs that the craft stores sell. I can usually pick them up with a coupon for around $.25 each. Then I add them to my regular flowers and decorations that I have around the house. It only cost a few dollars but it adds impact all around the house.

  17. I love pine cones. I will make them into a garland, have them hang from a beautiful bow on columns, and bleach them. People always seems so impressed when they see a big bowl of pinecones(I will add ornaments, greenery, and water picked blossoms)that are different shades. Some I spray gold and copper, leave other natural and the bleached ones look like driftwood. I also love to use magnolia leaves, they last forever and do not shed like fresh fir or pine. I will even spray the back of the leaves a metallic color. I prefer a natural look for my decor that is more seasonal and not tied just to Christmas(that way I don’t feel the need to tear it down Dec. 26). I decorate almost 60 trees in a two week period, so for our home an artificial tree is a must, usually going up before Thanksgiving. Those fresh touches help take the “sting” out of using a “fake” tree.

  18. I love your ideas! Can I say your home looks lovely! I love all your saving money tips but I would be so interested in seeing how your home is organized with 7 children? I have 7 children too and am always looking for things to work with a large family in not only finances but organizing because with so many people’s things it can be a challenge!

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