Frugal Holiday Decorating Tips from Designers


Need some awesome frugal tips for holiday home decor? Check out these tips from some well-known designers!

Christine’s Tips:

1. Wreath picks are one of the easiest ways to add seasonal decor. They come in a variety of styles and are available at very low prices. Use them in fresh or faux wreaths (of course), to dress up packages, as ornaments on trees or tucked into bowls of fresh fruit like oranges.

2. Choose gift-wrap that coordinates with the decor of your home and use your wrapped holiday gifts as part of the decoration. A basket of already wrapped gifts adds a pop of color and gives you the incentive to wrap those presents early! Also, when the holidays are over, the gifts are handed out and there’s less to put away. Choose paper that is not overtly Christmas, instead doing solid colors or patterns like stripes. This way, if you have leftover paper, it can be easily used for birthdays or other holidays.

3. I like to hang wreaths not just on doors but also use them over the fireplace, hung over mirrors for a layered look or even as part of a centerpiece. Lay a wreath flat on a cake stand, place a large pillar candle in the center, dress us with some wreath picks and ribbon and you’ve got a really simple centerpiece for a dining or coffee table.

4. Thrift stores are a great resource for table and glassware. You can usually find some silver or colored glass accents that are perfect to use for floral arrangements (or even greenery) or for serving.

Chris’ Tips:

1. Use nature to create decorations – Seasonal evergreen plants, branches, berries, pine cones, nuts, dried fruit, squash and pomegranates all make great holiday decorations. Use them to trim the tree, in floral arrangements, as a centerpiece for your holiday table. Plants add a breath of fresh air and sent to a space. Most Christmas tree locations sell branches inexpensively that have been cut off of trees.

2. Recycle – Visit garage sales, thrift stores for unique accessories, fabric that can be turned into decorative holiday pillows and new (to you) ornaments.

3. Consider swapping ornaments and decorations with friends so you both feel like you have new décor. Or with family members who are far away and can’t join you for the holidays – this is a great way to have them with you

4. Add a festive tablecloth, table runner or placemats to the dining room. Use sustainable fabrics like silk, cotton, wool and hemp that add great texture as well as being good for the planet.

5. Always use cloth napkins and china instead of disposable paper products

6. Dated ornaments? – Have the kids paint them with figures or noted as Christmas 2011 that you will use year after year and are great memories for the family. Or paint a mish-mash of older ornaments the same color for a color theme with an environmentally friendly paint.

7. Made as a family, gingerbread houses make great decorative elements, as well as ginger bread men, snowmen or angels. They are something to eat, don’t require storage for the rest of the year and the kids will love them.

8. Light candles and a fire to create a warm and romantic atmosphere and save electricity. Use soy, beeswax or natural vegetable based candles.

9. Wrapping paper – look for recycled wrapping paper at stores or on line.

10. Replace your holiday lights with LED lights – they last longer and use less electricity than conventional lights

11. Save left over holiday wrapping paper to make book covers – it will add a festive touch to your bookshelves or to use next year.

12. Switch out or add a second layer of draperies to your lighter summer drapery with heavier velvet or brocades in rich seasonal colors. It will add a festive touch and keep your house warmer without turning up the heat, saving energy

13. Slipcover existing pillows with silk or cotton for a fresh new holiday color and a new throw in wool in the same color scheme.

14. Buy a collection of crystal or silver candlesticks at local thrift shops and use them to create beautiful groupings on your mantel or on your holiday table

15. Use leftover holiday ribbon to make bows to mix in with your ornaments, wreaths and update the look of your tree

16. Repurposing items – When my grandmother passed, she has many pieces of costume jewelry. I repurposed them into decorations for my tree. You may have other items you have inherited that are in a box. Look at them again and see if they can become a decoration of some sort keeping the memory a loved one who has passed present with you each Holiday.

17. Save Christmas cards and cut the decorative image out and save for gift tags, they are oversized and a great additional decorative element on a gift

Christine Schwalm is an interior designer and visual merchandiser who has been based in New York City for over 6 years. You can learn more about Christine Schwalm Design at

Christoper Grubb is president of Arch-Interiors Design Group, Inc., an internationally recognized commercial, residential and hospitality interior design firm based in Beverly Hills, California. You can learn more about Chris and Arch-Interiors at