Decorate Your Christmas Tree on a Budget

Edited by Emmanuel M. Lardizabal, Robbi, Lynn, Graeme and 5 others

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Christmas could be one of the most magical times of the year. Having a tight budget doesn't mean you can't have a beautifully decorated tree.

Having a Christmas tree at home is a tradition for many. There are fables and myths about both the Christmas tree's origin and Santa Claus that usually vary according to different traditions.

Although Christmas trees have been around for centuries, it was only until the late 19th century that extravagantly decorating it gained popularity. Early trees were bedecked with handcrafted ornaments or edible goodies, such as fruits, candies, and nuts.

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What used to be a simple family tradition of setting up a tree and decorating it has now become a multimillion-dollar industry. If you will allow yourself to be mesmerized by the display of colorful ornaments, glittering garlands, and LED lights in every department store, be prepared to part with your hard-earned money. There are ways that you can add that sparkle to your tree and to your home while spending less.

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Secrets to Finding Great Ornaments

  1. 1
    Check your inventory.
    Reuse decorations from previous holidays that you may have put away. You may have forgotten the little treasures you have kept through the years. Just add a few contemporary items to keep your tree up-to-date with the current year.
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  2. 2
    Go natural.
    Look for what Mother Nature can contribute to make your tree fabulous. You will be doing the environment a favor by using organic materials such as pine cones, shells, raffia, and dried flowers. Fashion them into ornaments, and they can turn your Christmas tree from bland to grand. You can leave them as natural or make them sparkle with the addition of glue and colorful glitter.
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  3. 3
    Show your true color.
    Patterns, designs, and hot color schemes are constantly changing. Last year's popular decorating style is already outdated. Instead of planning your tree according to what is popular decorate it the way that suits you and your home best.
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  4. 4
    Creating a theme can help choose ornaments.
    Having a theme to jump-start your decorating ideas is not only useful and fun; it also allows others to help buy decorative gifts for your tree. Sometimes a Christmas tree decoration is bought to commemorate a birth, marriage, or other special event and marked with the date.
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  5. 5
    Shop smart.
    You do not have to shop at the mall to get great decorations. Many retail chains have extensive selections that often mimic name brand choices for a fraction of the cost. After Christmas sales are also a great place to find ornaments at drastically reduced prices.
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  6. 6
    Make your own ornaments.
    Sew, cut, fold, paste, or bake. These are some options for creating your own Christmas tree ornaments. This is often a great option if you have children. Not only do they have fun creating the ornaments, but also, since they helped, they will have a sense of pride and accomplishment when it is displayed.
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Steps in Decorating a Christmas Tree

  1. 1
    Assemble the materials.
    With a theme in mind, gather all materials – ornaments, ribbons, garlands, and tree lights. Keep any tools you may need handy.
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  2. 2
    Hang the lights.
    This step often takes the longest amount of time. Weave the lights through the branches in any pattern that you find attractive. Some like to coil the lights around the Christmas tree working their way from the top to the bottom, others may start from the bottom working their way up and coming back down again in a vertical zigzag pattern, while others still may like to wrap every branch in lights. There is really no right or wrong way as long as you make sure to leave enough room on the branches for decorations.
    • Make sure the lights are spaced evenly.
    • Check your work by stepping away from the tree.
    • Often switching on the Christmas lights, while turning off the lights in the room, may help you judge spacing better. You may want to avoid any large gaps in lighting as it will leave a dark area which may not illuminate your ornaments adequately.
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  3. 3
    Hang the Ornaments.
    Ornaments are the most delicate and movable elements so it is usually best to add them after the lights.  
    1. Start from the top and work towards the bottom of the Christmas tree while trying to distribute the ornaments evenly around the tree.
    2. Hang the bulb ornaments first to serve as a base then integrate other ornaments.
    3. Showcase major or larger ornaments by attaching them onto outer branches.
    4. Fill in gaps with medium and small-sized ornaments to create a fuller look.
    5. Hang some ornaments closer to the trunk to create depth.
    6. Add short pieces of garland and ribbons in blank spaces.
    7. If you have pets or small children, you may want to avoid hanging ornaments where they can be reached easily. Instead, block off the bottom with large gift boxes or toys.
    8. If putting up a ribbon garland, use wired or mesh ribbon to make sure the garland will hold its shape during the entire season.
    9. Choose medium-sized garland. The size is just enough to be seen from afar, and not too wide to overshadow the lights and ornaments.
    10. Add small bows in even proportion around the tree.
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  4. 4
    Drape the tree with garland, tinsel, or icicles.
    There are no specific rules to follow. However, often these items will be added to the outermost part of the Christmas tree.
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  5. 5
    Add the Christmas tree topper.
    This step is usually reserved until the last moment. Making the final addition is often a coveted honor. Some choices for toppers are:
    • A star
    • A large cross
    • A Christmas angel
    • A large snowflake
    • A color-schemed bow
    • Hollies and berries
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Christmas Tree Themes Using Bargain Ornaments

  1. 1
    Colored Balls Tree.
    Turn ordinary balls into expensive-looking Christmas tree ornaments.
    1. Spray paint the balls with a glittery or metallic coating.
    2. Prepare them for hanging by stringing them.
    3. Embellish the balls with ribbons, beads, feathers, etc. to add personality.
    4. Position the balls around the tree in your desired pattern.
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  2. 2
    Alphabet Tree.
    Turn your tree into an educational experience by adding letters in alphabetical order or spelling names of family members.  
    1. Dress up the letters by adding glitters and other embellishments.
    2. Distribute the letters around the tree.
      • You may also consider cutting out the letters from card stocks and be creative in dressing them up.
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  3. 3
    Romantic Tree.
    This theme utilizes the colors and symbols of love.  
    1. Cut out different sizes of heart shapes using red and pink card stocks, and patterned paper with touch of red.
    2. You may also create hearts using old clothes, linens, and other fabrics.
    3. Embellish hearts with satin ribbons or silk lace for a traditional romantic look.
    4. Loop the attachment around the tree branches.
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  4. 4
    Candy Tree.
    This may be the favorite Christmas tree of children everywhere.  
    1. Purchase assorted candies in bulk.
    2. By themselves, the candies are already attractive but you can still consider decorating them with ribbons.
    3. Create a candy tree extravaganza by hanging them individually or in clusters all over the tree.
      • Make sure to buy more than enough to refill the gaps.
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  5. 5
    Origami Tree.
    Learn the Japanese art of folding paper.  
    1. Create Christmas-related objects.
    2. Use plain or colored paper. You can always add sparkles or metallic colors to react to the Christmas tree lights.
    3. Try to make larger and smaller versions of a single pattern to establish a harmonious look.
    4. Hang the artworks on the tips of the branches.
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  6. 6
    Toy Tree.
    Re-purpose old toys into unique decorations.  
    1. You may opt to go for a collected look by gathering similar toys, such as dolls or cars.
    2. Make sure to put heavier toys onto sturdier branches.
    3. Use colorful ribbons to hang little or lightweight toys.
    4. To re-purpose old toys, consider spraying them in gold paint.
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Tips, Tricks and Warnings

  • Cut garland into small pieces and place them strategically as fillers for gaps.
  • Use empty gift boxes as festive way to cover large openings in the tree.
  • Use old fabric to complement the theme as decorative filler.
  • Twist together several strands of beads with different designs and dimensions for more impact.
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Article Info

Categories : Holidays & Traditions

Recent edits by: Grimm, Eng, Nerissa Avisado

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