Creative Ways to Save on Holiday Decorations

If you’re looking to stretch your holiday dollars, you’ll need a spending plan for your decorations.

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From the inflatable lawn decorations to the Christmas tree decorations, most Americans don’t hesitate to splurge for the holiday season. According to the National Retail Federation, American consumers were expected to spend a whopping $6 billion on decorations for the 2011 holiday season, which was estimated to be about 8 percent more than the 2010 spend. Results of the 2010 NRF Holiday Consumer Spending survey showed the average person spent $41.51 on holiday decorations, and $26.10 on greeting cards and postage.

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Sabah Karimi
These numbers probably don’t account for “investment” pieces such as lawn decorations, artificial Christmas trees, and other items that might be used in the future. If you’re looking to stretch your holiday dollars, you’ll need a spending plan for your decorations.

Take stock of what you already have. Don’t give in to the temptation to just go out and buy a whole new set of decorations when you already have plenty to decorate with or repurpose in some way. Take inventory of the decorations you own, including lights, baubles, and crafting pieces, so you have an accurate idea of what you really need to purchase this season.

Purchase outdoor decorations in November. Most stores will start marking down outdoor decorations as early as November, and prices won’t typically drop lower than that until the post-Christmas sales. If you’re in the market for that inflatable snowman, wreaths, and light-up reindeer, be sure to hit the sales right around Thanksgiving for the best deals.

Use coupons. Craft stores are fighting for business over the holidays, and you’ll find plenty of coupons and special pricing on holiday decorations from the weeks before Thanksgiving leading up to Christmas and New Year’s. Take advantage of online and newspaper coupons, and find out if stores will honor competitor coupons and advertised prices.

Make your own decorations. Smaller decorations for the Christmas tree, holiday centerpieces, and table settings can be made with some basic craft supplies. Make salt-dough ornaments and paint them by hand, make paper chains, or recycle last year’s baubles and other small ornaments to make wreaths, centerpieces, and other holiday décor—all you need is a little creativity.

Buy in bulk. If you are purchasing a lot of decorations for several parties this season, hand-making decorations that require lots of small accents or pieces to put together, or need themed party ware, shop party stores online and buy in bulk. Even an online marketplace like or auction sites like eBay can be good places to search for specific items at lower prices. You might be able to save on shipping costs by purchasing multiple items from the same seller and can scoop up everything you need in one step.

Repurpose last year’s decorations. Think of different ways to repurpose some of last year’s holiday decorations or even reuse some Halloween and Thanksgiving décor from this year in a new way. Repurposing other items such as old ribbon scraps, card stock, and wrapping paper leftover from last year’s wrapping projects can help you save money.

Check out the dollar store. You’ll be surprised how many crafting supplies and simple decorations you can pick up at the dollar store. Make a few trips to the dollar store to check out the inventory and think of some creative ways to pull together inexpensive pieces to create your own, low-cost decorations. The dollar store can be a great destination for rounding up bulk supplies and basic items such as undecorated wreaths, card stock, and card-making materials, glitter, tinsel, baubles, and felt items.

Visit the resale stores. Secondhand and resale stores can be a fun place to shop for vintage decorations and items you might be able to repurpose for the holidays. Head to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other secondhand goods store to see what’s available and what might be a good match for your crafting projects.

Visit Wise Bread for more stress-free holiday decorating ideas and articles from columnist Sabah Karimi.