A little disclaimer! I moved into my first big-girl apartment on my own last year, and soon realized that the Holidays were approaching and I wanted a darn cute tree in my apartment. I am not one of those people who starts prepping for the holidays in late summer, however, having a cozy-feeling December living room and a spectacular looking tree takes some strategy and careful planning, especially if you’re a bargain queen, such as myself!
So since I’ve been completely obsessed for months with finding amazing Christmas decorations on the cheap to go with my spring green, tan, and orange-accented living room – I’m here to pass my knowledge onto the wht readers!
First things first: The Tree
I happen to be inheriting an old (artificial) tree from my mom for free…so definitely start by asking friends and relatives if they have an old tree deemed too small or large that has been sitting in their attic for 10 years. I read (in Southern Living or Martha Stewart) that it can sometimes be a really cool effect to have an oversized tree for the room to really make it the focal point of your decorating efforts. But if you’re a “Less-is-More” kinda lady, than a good 7.5 foot tree will probably suit you just fine. If you have no luck with your family, check your city’s CraigsList section…people seem to not like to take their Christmas decorations along when the move out of state and you can get trees, decorations and more (often barely used) at steep discounts.
Lights, Camera, Action!
This is one area I’m going to recommend that you splurge and buy brand new — spending hours untangling someone’s used lights or sorting through which of the 1000 bulbs on the strands is causing the whole thing to short is NOT worth your sanity. (That said, if they’re $1 at a yard sale and you have an evening and a bottle of wine to kill, I wouldn’t blame you for spending the money on the wine, instead of new lights.)
It’s all in the Sauce…I mean, The Theme
To really have a pulled together look, it’s best to have at least some sort of theme in mind – whether it is just a complimentary color scheme to your living room (like me) or a bead-and-feather Mardi Gras tree – one singular idea (color, shape, style) can go a long way in giving you direction and guidance when ornament and decoration hunting.
Women’s and home/decor magazines usually have great ideas for themes: All Santa ornaments, an “edible tree” with all things related to food, snowflakes, travel, a favorite sport or team — the possibilities are infinite. A basic color scheme is a great place to start – I love the class and simplicity of all red and silver like these DIY Tinsel Snowflakes from Martha Stewart (above image) – but go with your favorite hues (and it does not have to be red and/or green!)
You can even use your favorite collection of things that is normally stored away (or not a focal point) during the year. An antique spoon collection, for instance can be elegantly tied to branches with chiffon ribbon—imagine the bling that tree will have!
Plus, if you’re starting totally from scratch, as I am this year, you have to be ruthless in your bargain hunting. And there’s no better bargain then FREE – so beyond your collections, scrounge around your house and your “treasure” piles for ribbons, bows, gift ornaments, costume jewelry etc that could earn new life and adorn your tree. Need more inspiration? Clean out your kitchen drawers and then check out how to make your own Cookie Cutter Ornaments (at left), once again from good old Martha.
Additionally, if your a crafty person – now’s the time for you to shine! Pull out the hot glue gun, and the sparkles and get crafting. If you have kids, get them involved too. If it’s the right size, shape and weight – you can add some glitter, a bit of ribbon for a tie and voila! it’s an ornament.
Next shop the discount stores – Ross, Target, Kohl’s, Mervyn’s, Home Goods,etc. (I found some lovely antique-looking silver and bronze bulbs at Tuesday Morning), don’t forget to check in at your local 99¢ stores. Since I was wanting an orange color scheme (so not a traditional Christmas color) I made sure to snag orange berry floral picks at Michael’s at the beginning of October before all the lovely Orange fall goods were clearanced away (and since they were half off it required trips to several locations)! But don’t worry, you can still find amazing deals and a huge selection in December.
Oh and make sure to keep an eye on the weekend circulars from Macy’s and JCPenney and the like – today at my local mall all of their Christmas decorations were 30% and 50% off respectively. Plus they they had many trees organized by theme or color scheme (for more inspiration) and tons of ornaments to choose from!
Finally, don’t forget yard sales, thrift stores and our beloved Etsy. They are all great resource for vintage pieces that will add some unique flavor to your tree! In fact, check back on Friday where I’ll be sharing a few of my most wanted from Etsy for this weeks 4 for Friday!
Until then – let’s talk Christmas Trees! What theme or colors will adorn your tree this year? Do you have any money saving, decorating tips? Share in the comments!
Cosmetics connoisseur, France fanatic, great gal; this post was brought to you by wht writer Katie. Currently living in San Antonio, Texas, she’s a bargain-hunter who loves big-time luxury and small-time prices.