DIY Christmas Decorations You Can Make Inexpensively in 2023

40 ideas to make your own DIY Christmas decorations repurposing items commonly found in thrift stores or your own home, plus free homemade holiday decor solutions.

The other day, I was randomly looking around our house counting up all of the thrift store Christmas decor projects we have hanging around. There have been a lot of them over the years.

I can bet, if you keep an eye out when thrift shopping or have a different perspective while walking around your own home, you’ll find ways to repurpose items inexpensively to make your own Christmas decorations.

DIY christmas decorations to make your own cheap

How to Make DIY Christmas Decor Inexpensively with Repurposing

Some of our decor is made up of thrift finds, some is made up of just inexpensive little touches from repurposed items, but all of it is super easy to do.

Making your own Christmas decor can save a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean those homemade decorations have to look cheap.

Many of these homemade and repurposed ideas are in this year’s Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas magazine that the team photographed in our house last Christmas.

A handful of these DIY Christmas decoration ideas are close to 10 years old and some are newer, but because Christmas is so nostalgic and cozy, they’re all great to recreate regardless of trends.

So just in case you want some cheap Christmas decoration ideas for this season or next year, here are 36 to get you started.

1. Make Stocking Labels Using Luggage Tags

Repurpose luggage tags or lanyard badge holders as stocking tags. These were less than $1 each and safety pinning them to Target stockings made them look high end.

Printable: You can get the printable labels for them here, if you don’t want to design your own. Try using Canva to personalize name tags from scratch.

DIY Christmas stocking name tags using lanyard badges

I found a book of Christmas sheet music at the thrift store for $1 and decided to rip the pages out to frame on our existing living room gallery wall. A whole wall of subtle but festive art for $1? Sign me up!

DIY Christmas art using a thrifted sheet music book

3. Use Jingle Bells as Place Card Holders

I discovered that jingle bells can become place card holders totally by accident, but it works!

repurposed Christmas place setting using a jingle bell

4. Take Advantage of Public Domain Images for Christmas Art

You can find free public domain images all over the internet (basically antique prints that don’t have a copyright). You can get this snow cabin printable art here.

Stick to ones with a winter theme rather than Christmas-specific so that you can leave them on display until spring. Work smarter, not harder. 😉

Resource: 18 Christmas Wall Decor Ideas and Holiday Art Printables

cheap Christmas decor art with public domain images

5. Dry Oranges and Leaves to Vintage Style DIY Christmas Trimmings

Drying oranges and preserving leaves like magnolias and boxwoods is so easy to do and look beautiful tucked into garlands, wreaths, tree branches, and centerpieces. Doing this can pave the way for so many homemade Christmas decorations all round your house.

Tutorial: How to Dry Fruit and Preserve Leaves for Christmas Decor

homemade Christmas greenery drying leaves and fruit

6. Put Ornaments in a Thrifted Bowl as a Centerpiece

I found this soup tureen for $5 at Goodwill and immediately thought up a million different ways to use it in decor year-round.

Growing up, my mom always put a big bowl of ornaments on my dining room table at Christmas as an easy centerpiece, so it just seemed right.

Cheap Christmas centerpiece using a thrifted bowl with ornaments

7. Swap Ribbon to Change the Look of Your Tree Each Year

I love how ribbon can create a whole new look on your existing decor for just the price of 2-3 spools. This blackwatch tartan plaid is my fave.

Tutorial: How to Put Christmas Tree Ribbon Decorations on Trees

DIY Christmas decorating with ribbon

8. Make Christmas Wall Decor With Scrap Wood

We repurposed some scrap plywood we had to make this winter landscape art using an engineered print.

Tutorial: You can get the free printable landscape art here to make it yourself.

homemade Christmas art from scrap wood

9. Make Orange Pomanders

This one isn’t really thrifted, but it’s a great grocery store Christmas craft you can do while snuggled up watching a movie by the fire.

Puncture holes in the skin of an orange with a toothpick or push pin, and press whole cloves into the openings. Make interesting patterns with the cloves to display in bowls on tabletops or scattered in centerpieces. Plus, it smells amazing!

Ours usually last 4-5 days at room temperature, so it’s best to wait until the week of Christmas to make them.

DIY Christmas centerpiece orange pomanders

10. Twist Evergreen Stems Around Napkins for DIY Napkin Holders

If you have any leftover garland remnants, this one is so easy to do.

homemade napkin rings using garland pieces

11. Stuff Fairy Lights Under Thrifted Cake Domes or Clock Domes

These fairy lights are my favorite because they’re battery powered, can be set to a timer, and work in so many different places- on miniature Christmas trees, woven into garland, or like in our kitchen, underneath a cake dome or an old thrifted clock dome.

thrift store Christmas decorations with fairy lights under cloches

12. Display Thrifted Ice Skates for a Christmas Decor Accent

I bought these ice skates in the middle of summer in the sporting goods section of the thrift store, but I knew they’d eventually make a great Christmas decoration. It pays to look for Christmas finds in the off-season.

Repurposed skates as Christmas decor

13. Make Your Own Garland

Using dried oranges, you can string them together with twine to make DIY orange garland. I love adding miniature bells to mine.

Tutorial: Easy Tutorial: How to Make DIY Dried Orange Garland

DIY dried orange garland in a doorway

Or string up ornaments on ribbon to display across your mantel. I tied these wooden snowflake ornaments we already had to some pink ribbon to use in our girls’ playroom.

snowflake ornaments strung onto ribbon to make DIY garland on a mantel

14. Reuse Wreaths as Candle Rings

I’ve had these mini boxwood wreaths for years hung up on the backs of dining chairs or placed on a wall or on mirrors. But Christmas wreaths are great at repurposing with candles into easy tabletop accents too.

Mini wreath repurposed as a candle ring

15. Force Paperwhite Bulbs

Growing paperwhite narcissus flowers is perfect to do in the winter months and makes for beautiful decor that can last on into January.

I love displaying them in thrifted bowls.

forcing paperwhite bulbs as natural Christmas decor

16. Print an Advent Calendar as a Candle Label

I printed this little calendar on card stock to stick on a votive candle I had, and it’s a great, simple way to countdown until the big day. It’s as cheap as printing 1 sheet of paper from your own computer.

DIY Advent calendar candle label

17. Dig Into the Fake Flower Bin for Christmas Tree Ornaments

Who says Christmas tree ornaments have to be glass balls or even an item hanging on a hook? Check your fake flower bin in storage or the clearance section of the craft store (because summer blooms are often super discounted in December).

Stick flowers between your Christmas tree branches to fill up space and create a unique look. Tuck them into a wreath on your front door or mini trees on your front porch for an extra pop too.

Related: Where to Find the Best Fake Flowers That Look Real

Repurposing faux florals as Christmas tree ornaments

18. Recycle “Tree Lot Trash”

Pick up discarded trimmings from Christmas tree lots to use on tabletops and mantels or make fresh DIY holiday garland. Attach them to your banisters with pipe cleaners and ribbon. And if you want to keep it looking fresh, you can spritz it all with some Wilt Pruf.

Recycling Christmas tree clippings as garland

19. Spray Paint Old Christmas Village Sets for a Modern Look

I see these ceramic village sets in the thrift store all the time. Paint them white (or any color you want) to make them new again.

cheap Christmas decorations using spray paint to change the look of Christmas village figurines

20. Utilize the Grocery Store Produce Aisle

I love sprinkling a table with fresh rosemary and cranberries. Bonus: it smells amazing too. And if you happen to keep rosemary growing in an herb garden year-round, it’s even cheaper.

scattering rosemary and cranberries on a holiday centerpiece

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21. Hang Family Photos on the Tree

At our old house, we didn’t have a ton of extra money leftover for Christmas ornaments, so I printed some favorite photos, hole punch them with some twine, and hung them on my tree.

Putting them on the branches was a sweet little trip down memory lane… and cost next to nothing!

printing old family photos to use as DIY ornaments

22. Use Pinecones as Bowl Filler

Gather pinecones out of the yard to display them in bowls or clear vases. But first, be sure to bake them on a cookie sheet at at 250 degrees F for 30 minutes to get rid of any bugs hiding inside.

a bowl filled with pinecones to use as homemade holiday decor

23. Use Bud Vases as Candle Holders

I inherited this collection of milk glass bud vases from my grandfather after he passed away. He had a huge rose garden and loved giving roses to friends and family as gifts using those milk glass bud vases.

I love having them as a way to remember him, so I repurposed them into candle holders as a simple centerpiece.

repurposed bud vases to use as for centerpiece candles

24. Use an Old Suitcase to Make a Storybook Advent Calendar

I love doing this advent calendar idea for our kids. Place Christmas storybooks inside of an old suitcase (this one was my grandmother’s over 50 years ago) and let them read one per night at bedtime as a countdown to Christmas.

Resource: See our family’s favorite Christmas storybooks here.

DIY advent calendar with storybooks in an old suitcase

25. Repurpose a Planter as a Christmas Tree Stand

Use a planter from the garden department for a tree stand holder. There are so many pretty ones, but this barrel planter was my favorite of the bunch.

During the warm months, we stored them upside-down around our fire pit as makeshift outdoor cocktail tables.

repurposing a planter as a cheap Christmas tree stand

26. Make DIY Christmas Ornaments with Cinnamon Salt Dough

If you love the old fashioned look of stringing up gingerbread for decor, this one is a lot of fun to make and the perfect Christmas craft to do with the kids.

Tutorial: Get our cinnamon salt dough recipe here.

homemade cinnamon salt dough ornaments

27. Transform an Old Gum Ball Machine Into a Snow Globe

I found this gum ball machine in the kids’ toy section of the thrift store and spray painted it a pretty ballet pink for Olivia’s room.

Fill it with some fluffed cotton balls and a little house ornament, and you’ve got yourself a snow globe.

repurposed snow globe using a thrifted gum ball machine

28. Make Antique Style Candles to Add to Christmas Trees

I love making these DIY Christmas candles to add a vintage flair to the usual plastic kind. All you need is metal candle clips and hot glue.

Tutorial: DIY Antique Style Christmas Tree Candles

DIY Christmas candles as tree decorations

29. Utilize a Thrifted Typewriter to Display Messages to Santa

I was so excited when I found this typewriter at the thrift store for $9 years ago! It’s perfect for printing out funny letters to Santa as whimsical decor.

If you don’t have luck at thrift stores, you can sometimes find them on Etsy and eBay for not too pricey.

thrifted typewriter repurposed as vintage Christmas decor

30. Decoupage Sheet Music Onto Cheap Ornaments to Look Vintage

I made these ornaments from cheap Walmart ball ornaments years ago using old sheet music I ripped up and decoupaged with Mod Podge. So sweet and pretty and a craft that’s hard to mess up.

homemade Christmas ornaments with decoupaged sheet music

31. Incorporate Family Heirlooms

My grandmother’s side of the family is Swedish, and I remember always playing with this Dala horse on her shelf as a kid.

Now I find a place to use her Dala horse every year in my Christmas decor.

repurposing sentimental dala horse for decoration

32. Use Ribbon Remnants to Make Miniature DIY Mini Trees

If you have a little leftover ribbon, use a styrofoam cone and a glue gun to make these mini ribbon trees! You can change the style depending on what type and color of ribbon you use. Or use a foam wreath form to make a ribbon wreath instead and add pom poms as “berries”.

Tutorial: DIY Nordic Sweater Mini Christmas Trees

DIY Christmas trees using ribbon remnants

33. Repurpose Baby Shoes as Ornaments

These little boots were Olivia’s when she was born, and every year we nestle them onto a branch to remember that sweet baby phase.

You don’t have to get a store-bought “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament to document a sweet memory.

homemade ornament using baby's first shoes

34. Turn an Old Sweater Into a Pillow Cover

I see old cable knit sweaters in thrift stores all the time! Snatch them up, wash them when you get home, and rework them into cozy pillow covers.

Tutorial: How to Turn a Sweater into a Pillow Cover

old sweater repurposed into a homemade pillow

35. Use an Old Crate for a Hot Cocoa Station

I found this old Coca-Cola crate years ago at the thrift store, and we bust it out for centerpieces, coffee table trays, and festive cocoa bars throughout the year when we want a whimsical punch of red.

Use is as a cocoa station tray to hold toppings like chocolate chips, marshmallows, and crushed candy canes.

Printable: You can snag this hot cocoa bar sign here to go with it too.

old soda crate repurposed as a hot cocoa station

36. Repurpose Thrifted Silver Servingware for Christmas Party Decorations

I see silver trays and coffee/tea sets at the thrift store almost every time I stop in. Maybe because people just don’t use them much these days. But they make gorgeous table decor for entertaining at Christmastime.

thrifted silver used on a hot cocoa bar

37. Tie Ribbon Around Your Wall Decor

A super easy, inexpensive, and quick way to add Christmas “art” to your walls is just to tie a strand or two of ribbon around picture frames and mirrors.

Tutorial: 5 Minute Christmas Bow Ribbon Art

Christmas bow tied onto a picture frame
bows on picture frames for cheap Christmas art

38. Decorate Holiday Tables with Thrifted Dishes

You can find vintage dinnerware and serving pieces at the thrift store all the time! No one says you need to have Christmas-specific plates to feel festive. Vintage pieces can make a table look upscale for way less than you might think.

Christmas dining table decorated with vintage blue and white dishes

39. Opt for Plain Kraft Paper for Wrapping

Instead of buying Christmas wrapping paper, choose plain kraft paper that you can continue using year-round to stretch your dollar.

blue christmas gift wrap

40. Layer Garlands

If you have multiple strands of random mismatched garland or need a way to make cheap garland look more high-end, layer different faux greenery pieces together. You can take it a step further by adding ribbon and dried oranges.

Tutorial: How to Hang Garland on Stairs

layered garland on stairs railing

Do you have any thrifted items you love using as cheap Christmas decorations every year? Share them in the comments below so we can gather more ideas! Because you can honestly never have enough.

More Cheap Christmas Ideas

Frequently Asked Questions

How to decorate for Christmas with little money?

1. Use natural resources around you (with permission of course): forage for pine cones or clip pine and cedar branches in your area.
2. Visit the thrift store and keep an eye out for holiday items year round.
3. Utilize the dollar store for candles and ornaments.
4. Simple fairy lights can add a lot of magic for very little.

How can I decorate for Christmas without being overwhelmed?

1. Remove all decor and clutter from a room before decorating so you have a “blank slate”.
2. Utilize non-seasonal home decor you already have in your Christmas decor. (Ex: Do you really need a Santa pillow? Why not a simple cozy knit pillow instead?)
3. Concentrate on just a few focal points, like the mantel and tree, instead of the entire house.
4. Add little bits of decor at a time as you feel up to it. If you don’t feel up to it, that’s okay too. Less is more.

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18 Comments

  1. Ahhh, I love this post so much! Some of these ideas I already do, but you’ve given me inspiration to do more. Ice skating is a special memory for me because one year when I was a teen, we had freezing temps long enough for our farm pond to freeze solid and my dad bought my brother and me ice skates from a thrift store to try out. (In Oklahoma, where both freezing temps for a month and used ice skates at just the right time were a rarity!). I no longer have those, but just recently bought a couple of pairs from Etsy to use as decor. Was just thinking about going through old family photos and finding Christmas ones to frame and display. Love the idea of using luggage tags on stockings and baby shoes on the tree! My youngest child just left for college this year, and I think that has made me even more nostalgic than ever, especially in my decor. One of my favorite vintage Christmas collections are ceramic salt and pepper shakers (mostly snowmen, Santas, and gingerbread bread people) that I’ve thrifted and display in my kitchen window sill. I use red and green in my decor all year and my collection of vintage red and green glassware (mostly goblets, bowls, and candy dishes) works really well at Christmas time in various vignettes. I also like to collect cute stockings to hang with command hooks on the doors throughout my house. Merry Christmas to you and your sweet family!

  2. What a great selection of easy and inexpensive ideas! I love that hot cocoa bar and I’m going to do that when I have a few friends over this season. So friendly and useful! Thank you for this Christmasy roundup.