{Lots of Festive Ways to} Decorate for the Holidays on a Budget

I adore holiday decor!  In fact, if I wasn’t such a stickler for Christmas being ONLY between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, I would want the world decorated with twinkly lights and mistletoe year round!

Wise financial decisions and planning shouldn't be neglected during the holidays. Decorating our homes for the holidays shouldn't be an excuse to splurge extensively and forget all our frugal plans. It's so tempting to aim towards a lavishly decorated home, exquisite food menu and gorgeous holiday attire for us and our munchkins, but the financial effects will be felt for many months after our expensive spending sprees are over.

Decorating for the Holidays on a Budget - Kids Activities Blog

Family budgets are tight these days which is why I adore this series  Creating Family Memories on a Budget  inspired and sponsored by  Dave Ramsey's Endorsed Local Providers  (ELP)  program which can help you find trustworthy and competent investment advisors, realtors, insurance agents or tax services in your hometown.  You can sit down and create a custom financial plan with someone you are comfortable with and that your neighbors would recommend making it easier for you to set aside money for what is important to your family.

Don't fret. You can still have a gorgeously decorated home without overspending. Just a few creative touches will get your home holiday-ready in no time.

Try these ideas to start your creative thoughts churning!

Decorate for the Holidays on a Budget with Frugal Ornaments

With each store-bought ornament costing around $10 a piece, it's no wonder you get stressed thinking about holiday décor. Try something new that involves your kids. Many ornaments can be made right in your own home. You can choose the colors and patterns you want as well as create holiday memories for the years to come.

Baked Holiday Ornaments

These are simple ornaments you and your munchkins can make, bake and decorate!  It makes a fun family activity that can become a family tradition.

You will need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Toothpick
  • Cookie cutters
  • Acrylic paints (optional)
  • Glitter and jewels (optional)
  • Ribbon


Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and then place on a floured surface. Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic. If dough is too sticky, add a smidge more flour. If the dough is too dry, add a tiny bit more of water until the perfect consistency is reached.

Roll dough to ¼  thickness. Then, cut out ornament shapes with cookie cutters.

Use a toothpick or other pointed object to create a small hole in the top of the ornament for easy hanging.

Place ornaments on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for two hours. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

You can leave these natural, and then hang or embellish with paint glitter or other accessories. After the paint is dry, thread ribbon or twine through the hole in the top to hang on the tree.

Congratulations! You just conquered a craft, holiday decorating and frugal living — all in one activity!

Frugal holiday decorating tips from Kids Activities Blog

Popcorn Garland

Who can forget the Christmas trees on our favorite old movies and shows? For sure, we all expected to see popcorn garland around the tree. Reminisce and share the nostalgia with your kiddos by popping some popcorn and stringing it together!

You will need:

  • Popped pop-corn
  • Fresh cranberries
  • Heavy thread, embroidery floss or any durable, thin string or thread
  • Needle


Cut your thread into 4 feet lengths for easy handling. Make a double knot in the bottom of your thread and then begin with one cranberry. Thread the cranberry and push the berry all the way to the bottom, beside the thick knot you made.

Pick a pattern and stick with it. You can do two cranberries and then three pieces of popcorn and repeat, or any pattern you choose. Be sure to choose firm cranberries and quality popcorn — and keep your patience!

Depending on the size of your tree, this may take a while. Perfect activity for a family night!

Take a Rest Break from Decorating

Whew.  Did you know that 24% of people working after retirement age are doing so because they need health coverage?  It is one of a family’s major financial concerns.  A health catastrophe without insurance can undo all your savings in an instant.

No one is quite sure what is happening with healthcare insurance right now, but instead of ignoring it {like I want to do}, planning to make sure your family’s healthcare coverage doesn’t have gaps can give you peace of mind through the holidays and beyond.

If you're trying to get insurance on your own ”maybe you're retired, or it costs too much or isn't offered through your employer ”use an independent agent  that works with all the health insurance companies.  This agent can find the policy that fits your needs best.  Find your ELP today.

Paper Chains

We made these for our tree when I was a kid.  It was the first time I was allowed to use a stapler {under supervision}!  Way back then we were cutting up construction paper in red and green, but today I have an entire closetful of scrapbooking supplies that would be a perfect addition to any style tree!

Candy Canes

Simple attach a wire hanger, or paper clip to these for easy-hanging on your tree. Glue or tie a bow around it for some extra whimsy. Simple, tasty and cheap!

Now that you have ornaments for your tree, let's move on!

Ribbons and Greenery

Your mantle, kitchen table, Christmas tree and windows can all be decorated with these two simple items.

Crafts stores are brimming with loads of holiday ribbon and you can make all kinds of beauties out of anything from a simple white to a jazzy blue and silver ribbon.

Grab glass vases, tie a beautiful ribbon around it and add some greenery or other outdoor, natural décor. Clean stones, pebbles and pinecones are all great vase fillers. Use store-bought greenery to drape your staircase and attach a simple, classic white ribbon bow for each loop.

Looking for an inexpensive tree-topper? Create your own gorgeous ribbon bow and leave the long strands of ribbon to cascade down your tree. It will look like you decorated your home on a much heftier budget.

Homemade Bunting

Buntings are definitely in  right now. They can be simple or complicated. Some are even just triangles cut out of scrap paper hung on twine! It's cute, whimsy and trendy. Try out your own family-version. The sky is the limit with this idea!

Decorating for Christmas on a budget - Kids Activities Blog

Host an Informal Ornament Swap

You probably have some lovely ornaments that you have grown weary of over the years.  Your next door neighbor, sister-in-law and best friend probably do too.  Get together for a fun holiday coffee where each of you brings a box of ornaments to swap.  You will be surprised at what inspiration you might get from these “new” decorations.

Don't Get Overwhelmed

Even if you're not the Queen of crafting  you can still create a simple wreath, a Christmas tablescape or decorate a tree. Scour the net for ideas and don't feel ashamed to imitate their ideas. They are sharing them for your inspiration!

Before the decorations come down (or even better, before they go up), take the first step to getting your financial house in order for 2014.  you can add hundreds of dollars back into your budget next year by simply updating your auto, home, or health insurance.  Choose someone to help you who has the heart of a teacher. If you don't understand why they are recommending a policy, or if you're not sure how the policy will work for you, ask them to explain it again ”in layman's terms, if needed. Always know exactly what you're buying.

Every day, thousands of people turn to Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) to help them find trustworthy health insurance professionals. People love their simple process and the high-quality professionals Dave recommends.  Find an agent in your town  who can help you get the best insurance coverage for your situation today!

Enjoy a holiday home that fits in your frugal-family budget and the peace of mind planning for the future will give you.

Thanks so much to the  Endorsed Local Providers  for sponsoring Kids Activities Blog and inspiring this series on creating family memories on a budget.  

How do you save on holiday decorating?


  1. Do you know how many years I have said we’re going to make homemade popcorn/cranberry garland?? This just might be the year!

  2. Samantha Christensen says:

    Love all of these they are too cute!!! We buy super cheap clear bulbs at the end of the year when they are on sale and then pour paint into them

  3. The financial Advice at the end is the best advice. Get your fiscal year off on the right foot by budgeting and figuring out what you are going to spend for 2014. Start things off right and by next year, the gift won't be as daunting, you won't run up credit cards and you can get on track by 2015!

  4. It doesn't help this year, but each year we watch the sales after the holidays for decorations. They get put away and are ready for the following year.

  5. Great ideas! I can’t wait to buy used gifts for my children, give some of their old toys to charity, and overall, clean out my house!

  6. My daughter would love making ornaments–I need to do some of these with her!

  7. candy kratzer wenzel says:

    These crafts bring back memories when I was a kid. The best decorations and lots of memories.

  8. Sarah Elyce says:

    My most frugal tip is to shop the sales after the holidays. Get next year’s craft items and decorations at next to nothing once clearance starts. Doesn’t help this year but puts you ahead of the game for next year.

  9. Vanessa Wille says:

    We buy a super-cheap artificial tree and use it for years!

  10. Sandra McFadden says:

    I remember doing those kind of things when my kids were young. I still do things to make decorating my house on a budget but make things that look stylish at the same time and people when they ask where I bought something I tell them I didn’t I made that out of this and that they are totally in awe.

  11. Amber Mabry says:

    Taking the kids for a walk and letting them pick pine cones, then painting them at home, hang some string and you have some ornaments.

  12. Have your kids grandkids or whatever make their own, I did this growing up and it was not only money saving but it was a fun time!

  13. I love making my own decorations.

  14. Alaina Bullock says:

    So many cute ideas! I used to love making homemade ornaments as a child, and a teacher when i taught

  15. I try to buy decorations on clearance after the holidays, and we love the dollar store for some things too!

  16. we have tried some of these, I am going to do the baked ornaments this year

  17. We love paper chains!

  18. Kelley - Anne D. says:

    Very nice tips! We get lots of magazines through out the year and then use them to make Christmas cards!

  19. Great ideas. for things that I want to buy I wait till end of the season or my rule is to only buy ONE new decor item a year

  20. Letting kids make some decorations is a great way to save money. Plus, it looks adorable and provides you with keepsakes 🙂

  21. Great ideas! We like to use wooden clothespins and pompoms to make simple Nutcrackers for the kids tree!

  22. Such great ideas. I’ll be trying some for sure!

  23. Katherine H says:

    Thanks for the awesome tips. I am always looking for ways to do things on a budget

  24. I remember making those paper chains as a kid. Nothing wrong with these old fashioned ways of decorating!

  25. Ashley Addison says:

    I love these ideas. My kids and I love to make homemade decorations. Thanks for sharing the make and decorate recipe.

  26. Susan Innes says:

    i will have to do these next yr when my daughter is old enough to really do crafts can’t wait to try them soon

  27. I Think we are going to try the baked ornaments!

  28. I love the idea of the popcorn garland – I think we are going to try that this year!

  29. I buy all my holiday decorations at the end of the holiday season and save them for the next year. This saves me a ton of money! Target always has great holiday clearance.

  30. We make a lot of our own decoration its cheap and they look good

  31. Great ideas! I have a few pretty glass containers that can hold some CHRISTmas different colored ball ornaments, candies, greenery with lights, or fill with some water with cranberries and floating candles.

  32. Angella L says:

    You can make ornaments that don’t break by making yarn puffs (recycle a favorite sweater that couldn’t be repaired by using its’ yarn)

  33. Kelly Hubbard says:

    I want to decorate our tree with Pop corn garland. like my Grand parents used to do

  34. Adrienne Sydnor says:

    I remember as a child making the paper chain and the popcorn garland and all the homemade ornaments. It was so fun. I guess I’ll be doing that this week with my daughter.

  35. kimberly Snyder says:

    such cute crafts, can’t wait to make some of these with my grandchildren !!!!

  36. Great ideas! And, you’re right. . . don’t get overwhelmed is super important!

  37. Jacqui Odell says:

    I love the idea of homemade crafts. My tree is full of them!

  38. Get decorations when they are discounted/on clearance after the holidays for the next year!

  39. Stephanie Phelps says:

    I decorate the mailbox with left over cuttings from our Christmas tree and ribbon from last year gifts!

  40. Mary Beth Elderton says:

    We always love to do the paper chains and popcorn garlands. We also like to cut paper snowflakes.

  41. Anne Milkie says:

    I really liked the ideas! I bookmarked the page because I can’t figure out how to pin it to Pinterest . I will keep working on it.

  42. kristen h says:

    I love them all. will be trying them out:)

  43. Loni Krieg says:

    I love the popcorn and the paper chains. i think using a safe glitter spray on the popcorn would look really pretty! 🙂 I also can’t figure out how to pin this either. but I’m still trying!

  44. We make giant ice candles when it is cold enough in December – they are free but make a big impact outside. We freeze big white pails of water overnight, than dump the unfrozen water in the middle. Take it out of the bucket and add a candle inside – so pretty!

  45. bianca roman says:

    my son hasn’t been old enough in the past, but i think it’s such a great and frugal idea when kids attend those lows/home depot workshop around the holidays! parents are then able to use whatever the child(ren) made and use it for decorations and/gifts!

  46. We do the paper chains a lot (especially starting December 1 & counting down to Christmas day!

  47. Love these ideas! So easy and so cute! And, hello, blast from the past! I haven’t made a paper chain in forever!!

  48. I remember making paper chains! Good times. Love your ideas, I always try to save money no matter what, and decorating is no exception!

  49. I love ornament swaps! Not only are they fun ways to get special ornaments each year, they’re also great for holiday parties at work as a cheap but unique gift exchange.

  50. Many years ago, when my husband and I were first married, we decorated our tree with fresh cranberries and popcorn. Your post reminded me of our first Christmas in 1986 😉

  51. Some fun ideas here~ I would have liked to see some photos of your salt dough ornaments (I remember making these as a child) and “bunting” as I’m not as familiar with that.

  52. I forgot all about paper chains! I’ll have to make some with the kids!

  53. I love it; thank you for sharing!! We’re going to do the popcorn garland tonight. 🙂

  54. Buy plain glass ornaments that you can change the inside each year and make look new. I love personalizing them as using them as gifts.

  55. love these ideas! I am always on a budget this time of year, so this helps a lot.

  56. I think the best frugal tip that I use is not to buy wrapping paper but to wrap your presents with dish towels or the comics from the paper. Thank you for the giveaway.

  57. Angie Bailey says:

    My kids are 14 and 16 but most of the ornaments on my tree were made by them when they were in elementary school and at Bible school.

  58. My kids make a lot of ornaments and decorations and I recycle…I use review items for gifts sometimes!

  59. I use some old Christmas Stamps I have, and make my own gift tags 🙂 It’s fun AND cheap! Just 84 cents for the package of blank index cards 🙂

  60. Love these ideas hon! Totally things that my two boys can manage without making a god awful mess (like they usually do lol)! Thanks for the tips … and I’m with you on the wanting the world decorated with twinly lights all year round!

  61. We are going to make baked ornaments this year.

  62. This was great! I am rereading it with our kids now and we are deciding which one we want to do. This was the perfect ” Texas ice -day” activity post.

  63. Great ideas! We make a Christmas tree with construction paper that doubles as an Advent calendar. We pull of a link each day until Christmas.

  64. These are amazing ideas, even though my kids are getting older I still make them do things with me to keep them close while I can! Thanks so much!

  65. Great ideas. I remember making paper chains when I was a kid and having so much fun!

  66. These are frugal ideas and ways to bond with your kids. Love it!

  67. I have wonderful memories of my mom making her own salt dough ornaments for our tree. Some even survived years and basement floods to be used on my tree today. They make me smile everytime I put them up! Sometimes cheap = beautiful 🙂

  68. Sherry Fowler says:

    thanks so much for the info

  69. my tip is to make decorations with your children, create a memory and decorate in handmade items. This makes it special

  70. Popcorn garland is something I did as a kid. I don’t do it now because I have cats and thy would eat it all. Thy love their popcorn. It is something we did for Girl Scouts as well because we decorated trees outside. Each troop had a tree and we would use decorations that the birds could eat.

  71. Ashley Addison says:

    I absolutely love finding things to decorate with at the dollar store. Flowers, small garland, packages of snowflakes, and just recently I found a love for left over paint and used wine bottles, so there is a low cost, yet fun decorating idea. I also love changing my coffee table center piece using tulle and glitter and such. Very low cost. Thanks for sharing these ideas.

  72. These are all pretty fantastic ideas for holiday decorating! Not only are they economical on the wallet but some of them promote family bonding which is always a good thing around this time of year 🙂

    Quite honestly my best money saving tip is buy at local thrift stores. I cannot tell you how many inexpensive downright GORGEOUS decorations my mom and I have found recently!

  73. Love the ornament swap idea! It would be fun for everyone to make some handmade ones to trade. Thanks for sharing!

  74. I’ve seen a few people make the baked ornaments and wanted to give it a shot but didn’t know how, so thanks for the recipe!

  75. Great decorating tips. Thanks for sharing at Silver Pennies Sundays! x

  76. Great ideas! One year when my grandparents were in the transition of moving we put their tree up in their house as well as our own. I can’t remember why my grandmother thought we needed to do that, but either way we made a lot of ornaments for the second tree and had the best time doing it. Popcorn chains are a lot of fun. Especially if you nibble as you go. 😉

  77. Great ideas! I’m featuring you this week at Marvelous MOndays, thanks for joining us! ~ Paula

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