Don't Break the Bank: 10 Thrifty Holiday Decor Ideas for Fall, Christmas, and Beyond

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If you’re like the team here at, you don’t want to spend a boatload of hard-earned money on decorations that you’ll only use once a year.

Don’t get us wrong -- we love the holidays. And decorating for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and beyond is a great way to get the kids away from their screens, enjoy a change of pace, and even alleviate the winter blues (science has shown us that putting up holiday decorations early has incredible mood-boosting powers).

But one glance at the price tag on that animatronic Santa or floral arrangement might be enough to send you running from the hills, especially if you’re a new homeowner. You don’t have thousands of dollars to drop on decor! You’ve barely even put aside enough savings to get presents for your closest friends and family.

Fortunately, there are plenty of holiday decorating hacks and workarounds for the cash-strapped. Here are 10 of them.

Think thrift.

Thrift stores, especially some of the bigger chains, have upped their game in recent years. While they used to house mostly junk that no one wanted (and were a bit of a cesspool, if we’re being honest), you can now find new and like-new items at the secondhand shop. In the same vein, check out Craigslist and other community sites like the Facebook Marketplace to find rustic fall items and unwanted holiday decor for super low prices.

Fake it.

Gourds and pumpkins are the heart of Halloween and fall decorating, but buying the real deal means you’ll have to make that purchase over and over again. Instead, opt for the plastic variety, especially for your porch: from afar, they’ll look exactly like the real thing, and they won’t go bad with time (or get devoured by squirrels).

Check out the spray paint aisle.

Spray paint comes in a massive array of effects: from metallics to gloss, to chalks and glitters -- and virtually anything can be spray painted to become instantly festive. Find baskets, flower pots, plastic jack-o-lanterns, milk jugs, wooden crates, pallets, and more at a thrift store or on Craigslist and give them an instant makeover with the spray paint of your choosing.

Make your own stakes and signs.

Craft stores sell pre-made wooden stakes and signs for your yard (or inside) that only need your touch to customize them for the holidays. Pick out a few stencils, some spray paint, and have at it!

Ask your friends and family.

The financial blogger, Jacob of, brings up a point so obvious we’re surprised we didn’t think of it first: ask your friends and family for what you need -- whether it’s extra wrapping paper, holiday lights, or even a tree. A single Facebook post might result in multiple offers from friends more than willing to hand off their unwanted supplies, and it won’t cost you a thing!

Use mother nature.

If your flower beds haven’t disintegrated yet, try preserving your flowers and arranging them in vases, on wreaths, or creating holiday potpourri. Make homemade ornaments out of pine cones or twigs (remember kindergarten?)

Demote your old furniture.

Instead of throwing away that chair or end table, why not paint it or antique it, and toss it out on the front porch to host a holiday display? Vignetting your decor is a lot easier to do when you have multiple “levels” to work with -- and an old table or plant stand may be exactly what you need to create a multi-level display.

Keep those tomato stands.

A fantastic idea from Good Housekeeping: if you grew tomatoes this summer and kept your wire cages, turn them upside down, string them up with holiday lights, and voila! Your very own holiday light show, featuring festive pine trees. Tomato stands can also serve as frames for interior trees made out of cloth or ribbon and can be used as frames for gourds to create fall-themed trees for your yard. Talk about versatility!

Double (and triple) up on your coupons.

Major chains like Michaels, JoAnns, and Hobby Lobby often have individual coupons you can use in tandem with in-store sales to maximize your savings. With a little preparation before you start hunting down your decor and supplies, you can potentially save hundreds just by going online and printing off some coupons.

Get next year’s stuff this year.

Sure, this tip doesn’t help much with your current decorating woes -- but if you’re patient, this is a fantastic way to stock up on expensive holiday decorations at wildly reduced prices. Find out when your favorite stores are offering their post-holiday sales, and be among the thrifty few who get next year’s decor upwards of 80% off the ticket price.

On the flip side, you can buy your decorations significantly early and find the same savings, if you know where to look. Some cities feature year-round holiday stores where you can find Christmas decorations in July -- and, again, thrift stores may have a selection of holiday decor throughout the year.