Everyone loves their home to look festive and fun during the holidays, but these days people are more apt to spend their extra money on gifts than garland. Here are some ideas from some great designers that might inspire you to fill your homes with cheer without breaking the bank.


Classic, round glossy ornaments are a timeless classic that have gotten new life in recent years – mostly because the plastic ones have gotten REALLY CHEAP – and look just like the glass ones. It’s almost ridiculous how many colors there are – already packed together in collections of anywhere from 10 to 200 in one container! If you’re on a budget, this is TRULY the way to give your home some pop on the cheap.

Find a color scheme that works in your home and get a few packages. (You’ll have them forever!) Then, find ways to incorporate them into your existing decor by creating simple vignettes that give your home a little holiday cheer. By putting the same color scheme on your tree and in various spots around your home, you’ll get a unified look without breaking the bank.

The simplest way? Glass bowls and jars. Whether you go out and by an apothecary jar or use something you already have, you’ve got an easy centerpiece or side table scene.

At left, some red and silver balls are intermixed with a glossy red garland. (Thanks, Olivia for the use of your living room!)

On the fireplace mantel, (Styled by Dennis St. Germain) a green organic theme is used, and again, glass, (oh, okay, plastic) ornaments of various shades of green are placed in an apothecary jar. Mixed in are ‘moss’ balls that tie in the green outdoorsy theme. The clusters of ornaments dressing the stone urn and the rest of the mantel are strung together in clusters with floral wire. (A holiday decorator’s best friend.)

Decked out in green for the holiday. This urn is used year round as a planter, but for the Christmas season, takes on an earthy “Father Christmas” feel.

This bowl of silver and blue vintage ornaments, featured on the Delish website, uses the real glass ones, and it’s beautiful as a tabletop centerpiece. (Hard to deny that the real glass ones are gorgeous, especially on a tabletop where people are likely to want to reach out and touch your handiwork!) They suggest keeping some of your holiday ornaments handy for just after the holiday for your New Years celebration. The New Year is all about shine and sparke, and what better a way to reflect that than with mirrored reflective decor!

But wait – is all this looking too matchy-matchy for you? Never fear – a collection of various styles and colors can also look beautifully curated and stylish. Flickr user FreshVintageStyle really nails it with this beautiful assortment of multicolored, uniquely shaped ornaments (below) in glass apothecary jars, (which you can find at discount home stores for MUCH cheaper than your standard department stores.) These jars are a great decorating investment, because you can fill them with whatever suits the season. (Pine cones in the fall, Easter eggs in the spring, etc.)


Designer Eddie Ross came up with a beautiful, warm idea for ornaments when he was decorating Kathie Lee Gifford’s home for the holidays a few years back. With styrofoam balls and some plaid flannel shirts he created a rustic, earthy ornament for a miniature tree in her foyer.

Worried that your old flannel shirts won’t look good? Don’t – you’d be surprised how great they look cut into little strips (ironed, please!) and pinned into the top and bottom of the styrofoam ball.

For all the details on how to create these plaid shirt ornaments click HERE – it will take you to Eddie’s website.


HGTV Design Star winner Emily Henderson is one of my favorites. Her eclectic vintage style never fails to charm me! For her HGTV Holiday Special, she took on a Modern Vintage Chic Style. The show was literally OVERFLOWING with ideas – but among the simplest and most economical? A simple snowball garland made with – you guessed – styrofoam balls again! Just like stringing popcorn – it’s just as easy and tremendously chic. At right, they make a simple, sophisticated adornment to windows, and below they hang beautifully.

If you’re looking for a bigger splash of color, try wrapping red or green yarn around them. You’ll also notice in this picture a pretty darned adorable globe snowman family that she made by finding cheap globes at a flea market and getting superbly creative.

To visit Emily’s page – and see more great ideas from her holiday special, CLICK HERE!


Rather than create all new holiday scenes, why not dress up the things you already have in your home? Here, a NYC shopkeeper has created the ULTIMATE holiday picture frame.(Forgive me – somehow I’ve lost who did this beautiful work!)

Try this with something you’ve already got framed – a piece of art, or your family portrait. Or, it would work equally well around a window or door casing.

What they’ve done here may look more extravagant than what you can take on – but here’s where you can simplify: Use storebought garland and adorn with branches, ornaments, or whatever suits you. OR, go to your local tree farm and ask the people who work there if they have any trees that are patchy and will never sell. (As someone who grew up on a tree farm, I can tell you there are lots of trees that won’t sell because they lost branches, or are just not pretty enough!) They may agree to sell you the tree at a discount, and you can use the brances for boughs. Again, floral wire, (the easy to snip green wire) can tie all the beautiful elements together. Faux holly berries, eucalyptus and other elements from the craft store can customize the look.


Lastly, an homage to my late mother, who never met a holiday she didn’t love. One of her favorite things to do was to decorate for Christmas – and every year she would dig out her old ice skates and use them as a simple accessory for a holiday wreath. She would always hang it on the outside of our house, near the back door, and to this day this photo reminds me of the warm feeling that I got from her, and from the holiday itself. So the tip here? Take something you love, something that is distinctly you, from your past, your present, or what you hope will be your future, and showcase it. Here, her ice skates remind me of how she would take me to a nearby lake as a kid, hot chocolate in hand, and skate with me for hours. Now those skates are part of the holiday decor. The idea is simple, and yet so rich in memories for me – and that, to me, is what the holidays are really about.

Suggested story: Try bleaching your own pine cones! CLICK HERE!

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