Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

I love decorating for Christmas. This is my favorite time of year, for many reasons. Near the top of the list is that I enjoy the coziness and warmth of my decorated home.

People ask me about creating vignettes, which are displays with items grouped together. They are easy to do and during the holidays, even items that aren’t specifically Christmas themed can be used as décor.

Decorating for Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive. Using what’s already owned is fun and creates uniquely beautiful arrangements. Here are some of my favorite tips that are easy to duplicate.

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Use Available Surfaces

Use ALL available surfaces, clearing away regular décor. This includes mantles, tabletops, shelves, dressers, side tables, counters and even vintage chair seats. If it has a flat surface, it can be decorated! I have a vintage metal ironing board with a wooden top. It gets decorated for Christmas. Don’t forget the floor beneath tables and chairs.

Study the cleared surface and decide whether to leave it bear or cover with a cloth before decorating. I have a drawer full of linens that I’ve picked up over the years…placemats, pretty kitchen towels, vintage doilies, table runners, etc. I watch for sales and markdowns and pick up linens at a fraction of the cost. If I spy a red or green plaid cloth on sale I snatch it up. Don’t hesitate to use linens in other colors though. I have two gorgeous shawls that I use during the holidays that are rust, black and green.

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Group Items Together

Once surfaces are cleared, study the space. The size of the area determines how to fill it. For a small space, such as the seat of a vintage chair, two or three items are enough. A tabletop can hold an entire collection, such as a Christmas village or a snowman grouping. Shelves hold arrangements at either end.

I tend to use the rule of three often, grouping three items together that vary in size and height. However, there aren’t really any rules! This is where the fun begins. Gather items together and play. Try different arrangements, adding items or taking them away, until what remains is pleasing to YOU.

Of course use the Christmas décor that you have, but don’t be afraid to add in other everyday pieces. More about that in the next section.

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Include Everyday Décor in Christmas Decorating

This is one of my favorite things to do as I decorate, incorporate non-holiday pieces. I mix Christmas decorations with vintage pieces, stacks of books, framed art and all kinds of everyday décor. The result is eclectic and fun and it saves money, using what I already have on hand.

This time of year is great for showcasing vintage pieces. Use color to unify everything. On a shelf I have groupings that don’t contain anything Christmas themed. Red elements tie everything together and create a holiday feel. Another display features a stack of Harry Potter books, a wooden candle holder, a favorite framed quote, a black lion, a wooden box full of colored pencils and a metal candle holder featuring a row of Christmas trees. Most of the items are not Christmas related yet the vignette is colorful and festive.

This is creative play at a high level. Enjoy the process of making a display from favorite items.

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Use a Variety of Containers

Another favorite trick of mine is to create vignettes inside all sorts of containers. Wooden boxes, trays, metal buckets, my grandfather’s WWII army truck, an old wooden sieve and a vintage suitcase all become a place to group décor.

Christmas and non-holiday items can share the space. Work with a color theme or chose an item to be the foundational piece and build around that.

My great great aunt’s little red footrest is flipped upside down, becoming a rustic box. It holds two mason jars with tea lights tucked inside, dried baby’s breath and cinnamon sticks. A red metal birdcage candle holder and tiny red metal BELIEVE sign complete the vignette.

On the deck Aunt Annie’s red box is filled with greenery, pine cones and candle holders. Greg has made me several boxes from old repurposed wood. Each has a vignette within it. In the bedroom Grandma Moore’s battered old suitcase holds a mix of items, from flea market finds to metal Christmas trees to vintage photographs.

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Use Tea Lights Everywhere

The simplest way to create holiday warmth and cheer throughout a home is to fill it with candlelight. Those flickering lights dispel darkness and act as tiny beacons of hope.

I have all kinds of Christmas candle holders that I enjoy. However, any fireproof container can serve as a candle holder. I pop tea lights into decorative bird cages, sturdy tea cups and mugs, metal buckets, mason jars, glass containers, sugar bowls and pitchers. The possibilities are endless. If a container is fragile or not fireproof I use a battery operated tea light, to be safe.

If someone wants to decorate on a budget, this is my number one tip: buy a bag of tea lights, add them to a variety of containers, and then group them together. It’s a great way to feel the joy of Christmas.

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Decorating for Christmas, Your Way

I hope these tips have given you some usable ideas! The best thing about decorating for Christmas is that each person can create décor that uniquely represents who she or he is.

Love plants? Collect cat figurines? Have Grandma’s silver candlesticks? Love the rustic look? Classical décor? Pink everything? It all works. It’s all allowed. Bring out the pieces that bring you joy…and start grouping them together until the results make you smile. Most importantly, have fun. Play Christmas music. Sip tea or hot chocolate. Wear your favorite Christmas sweater.

Decorate the whole house or one room or a single shelf. And please, send me a photo!

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

16 Replies to “Decorating for Christmas with What You Have”

  1. LOVE all your tips! Love how you incorporate non-holiday items into your decor too. I have a set of lanterns that I keep on my mantle year round and just fill them up with seasonal items (pinecones, christmas ornaments, seashells etc.) and it’s a great inexpensive way to switch things up.

  2. I often reuse my previous years’ Christmas decorations each year! The only time I’ll buy a new item is when the décor goes on clearance, post-holidays. You can usually find some incredible deals at that time!

  3. these are great ideas! One thing I’ve incorporated every holiday, is a small Buddha candle holder I got as a gift. He never holds candles, but he will hold pumpkins, Christmas ornaments, or whatever else the season calls for

  4. I love this! Sometimes I’m hesitant to spend money on things that get little use. The tea light idea is great! It captures the coziness of the season.

    1. I understand that! That’s one of the reasons I use so many everyday items. I don’t have as many Christmas decorations to store.

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