Decorating my home for Christmas is one of my favorite things to do each holiday season. It’s even turned into a bit of a family tradition.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we start the day off at my grandma’s house to help her get down her Christmas decorations from a high shelf in her garage and then we help her to set up her tree and decorate her house. After that, we usually have lunch.
In the afternoon we trek across town to decorate my house. We drag all the Christmas decorations up from the basement and spend most of the afternoon setting up and decorating my tree and the rest of my house to make it festive.
Supper is usually eaten at my mom and dads, after which we help them drag their Christmas stuff up from their basement. Because they have a full-size tree (Grandma and I don’t), it takes a bit longer to get it set up. By then we are usually exhausted and all decorated out for the day. In fact, sometimes we don’t even get to this part of the process until Sunday.
With all this experience decorating 3 houses for Christmas each year, you could say I’m pretty much an expert on making things look festive without spending any money. Yep, that’s right. It usually costs me $0 to deck the halls for Christmas. Here’s how:
You’ve heard of the 3 R’s right? Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. That’s pretty much the way I am able to deck the halls at my house, my grandma’s house, and my parents’ house for free (or at least very little) money.
This year we went pretty minimalist compared to some years in the past. At each persons house this year we decided to get rid of at least one thing to help reduce the amount of stuff we have to drag up from the basement or pull off of a high shelf each year. I’m still working on my mom to get her to reduce her stuff a little bit more as she has by-far the most Christmas stuff in her house (when compared to Grandma and I).
Keeping Christmas decorations to a minimum not only reduces the amount of time spent sorting through things, decorating, and dragging things up from the basement, it also saves money. How? Well think about how much electricity it takes to plug in all of those Christmas lights. We get rid of a bunch of old, inefficient Christmas lights from my mom’s stash this year since they hadn’t been used in the last several years anyway.
Another thing we do to deck the halls and save money is to reuse things over and over again. Whenever we do buy something new for our Christmas tree or other decorations, we try to put some real thought into it. We ask things like: “Does this go with what I already own?” and “Will I be able to use this for years to come?”. If not, we don’t buy it. We reuse the same Christmas ornaments and other decorations for years and years until they look shabby, break, or we eventually decide to change the style of our tree.
All 3 of us use fake Christmas trees instead of buying a live tree each year. This saves a ton of money over the course of just a few years. For instance, I think I paid around $30 for my small 4′ tree and I’ve used it for the last 5 years. This makes its cost per use around $6. If I were going to buy a live tree it’d cost me around $30/year (based on what I saw the live trees marked at as I was going into the grocery store the other day). Plus, if I had a live tree in my house I’d also have to take a lot more allergy medicine. They smell great, but they make me so itchy. 🙁
Finally, we have done a fair bit of recycling to save money while decorating for Christmas. My mom and grandma actually traded nativity scene sets with each other because they each had one set that matched the other person’s house better. My mom and I also have Christmas trees that are decorated in much the same style, so we have traded a few ornaments back and forth over the years too.
It doesn’t have to be expensive to deck the halls and get in a festive spirit. It just takes a little creativity and some planning ahead to make sure you can deck the halls and stick to your budget.
Do you decorate for Christmas each year? How do you save money on decorating?