How to Decorate Your Apartment on a Budget This Holiday Season

By Aidan Cannon on December 10, 2023

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It’s that time of year again; the holidays are fast approaching! No matter what you celebrate, it’s always fun to get into the spirit of the season by putting up decorations. It’s a great opportunity to work with your roommates and create a cozy, welcoming environment in your apartment for the winter months. You can string your place with lights, put up wreaths or other house ornaments, and display a tree for Christmas or a menorah for Hanukkah. However, it’s unlikely that you brought a lot of holiday decorations with you when you moved in. While you and your roommates could go out to big box stores, pool some money together, and buy new decorations, that may be prohibitively expensive, especially for college students who are generally just trying to scrape by. Luckily, there are many ways to decorate your apartment for the season without breaking the bank.

Image from Pixabay.

Visit a thrift store

One of the best and quickest ways to find cheap holiday decorations would be visiting a thrift store. Although many people’s first thoughts when they think of thrift stores go to clothes, they can be great resources to find all sorts of things you might need in your apartment, including holiday decorations. Lots of decor gets donated or sold to thrift stores, usually because their original owners got new ones or they moved and had to downsize their belongings. This allows you to pick up some normally expensive items for a significantly reduced price. For example, string lights can cost you a pretty penny at department stores, but you could score some old ones on the cheap at your local thrift. Thrift stores can also inspire you with new decorating ideas because you’ll never know what they have until you get there. They may have a really awesome decoration that you see and feel would be a great fit for your space. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!

Purchase some festive candles

The holiday spirit isn’t limited to bringing out specific objects to litter your home with; for some, ambiance is more important. If you find traditional decorations to be a little too garish for your tastes, consider purchasing some holiday-themed candles. Candles can help contribute to your apartment’s cozy vibe and have the fringe benefit of keeping the space smelling clean and fresh. They’re also relatively inexpensive and can last you quite a while if you manage them correctly. If an exposed flame isn’t your thing, or you have safety concerns due to pets or children, try another scent diffuser device with holiday theming. Of all our senses, smell is the one most closely linked to our memory. Using a candle or other scent decoration will subtly enhance your shared space and help this holiday season stay with you forever.

Look for some DIY projects

If you’re looking to save some cash when decorating your apartment, it’s hard to go wrong with some do-it-yourself projects. DIY allows you to make a bunch of great holiday decorations for your space with materials you already have around your place, or with minimal (and usually cheap) materials purchases. The internet is your greatest ally; you can find hundreds if not thousands of DIY tips, tricks, and hacks to decorate your apartment this season. One of the easiest and most common is creating popcorn and cranberry garland. Simply make some microwave popcorn, then thread a needle and string through the kernels and cranberries, and you have an easy decoration to put up around your walls or tree. Using simple projects like this, it’s possible you can create all the holiday decorations you need with items you already have lying around the house.

Take from the natural world

Finally, what’s cheaper than taking from the earth? We associate certain plants and crops with various seasons; for example, many people decorate the inside and outside of their homes with pumpkins in the lead-up to Halloween and Thanksgiving. Using elements of the natural world as decorations in your apartment is super classy and again provides another, more subtle alternative to traditional “in your face” holiday decor. Pinecones function great as desk or table ornaments and can be used as a garland if you have the wall space. Tree branches and bows work great as accents on your mantle. Consider searching your area for pine, redwood, and olive trees, as they provide the best look. Of course, whenever you bring something from the outside world into your home, make sure there aren’t any bugs or other critters coming with you. The last thing you and your roommates want is an infested apartment.

Being a college student is often a financial balancing act. You’re learning how to manage your money while being on your own, and that can be quite a struggle. But being financially limited shouldn’t stop anyone from getting into the holiday spirit. Use this guide to inspire your holiday decorations without ruining your bank account.

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