Budget Holiday Decor

By Vicky Katz Whitaker

September 12, 2008 4 min read


Christopher Lowell makes the season bright and affordable

Vicky Katz Whitaker

Creators News Service

Making your home festive for the holidays doesn't have to be a budget buster.

If you're short on cash, you need to develop a visual plan in advance and focus on being as deliberate as possible, said Christopher Lowell, nationally known interior designer, best-selling author and radio and television personality.

Lowell, whose interior design television series "Work That Room with Christopher Lowell" can be seen each week on the Fine Living Network, said the biggest mistake people on a budget make in trying to decorate for the holidays is going in without a plan.

"We get suckered into the glitz and sentiment and often return home with overkill -- synthetic knick-knacks that never look as good in the context of our homes as they did in the middle of Santa's shopping village," he said

Ideally, you want to represent the holidays, "not build a shrine to them," he said.

Keeping the idea of "less is best" in mind, you can find what Lowell called visual hotspots by walking through your house with a camera in hand. Start at the front door and then travel through all the rooms that your guests will inhabit.

"An entry hall table, a focal point wall, a deep window ledge, a dominant chest, a dining room sideboard, the center of an open kitchen island...these are all great places to tell your holiday story," he said.

Lowell recommends looking for specific areas. "[They] will create visual balance, spreading those holiday 'moments' evenly around a space and from room to room," he said.

Take digital photos of these spots. Lowell believes that the right holiday displays, deliberately placed in specific focal points will tell a far more dramatic story rather than "transforming your home into the North Pole."

When you shop for decorations:

* Carry the photos that you've taken with you so that you know what you're looking for.

* Stick to your plan. Don't be lured by pricey Christmas ornaments or decor.

Your tree decorations can also be easy on your budget. Lowell's favorite tree is decorated with white Italian lights and strung with pasta tubes and cranberry garlands.

"I use freeze-dried citrus slices [available at most craft stores] tied to the tree limbs with long strands of raffia that create a 'tinsel' effect when the tree is finished," he said. Next, he adds a signature ribbon that he employs throughout the house. Lowell uses inexpensive red and green silk balls to fill in gaps.

If your room is too small for a full size tree, weigh down a champagne bucket with pre-soaked floral foam, Lowell said. The bucket should support a spray of evergreen boughs up to four feet. Wire the arrangement with white lights from the back and then decorate.

As for the rest of the rooms, once you've identified where each holiday display will go, pick one uniform element that remains the same throughout the house.

For example, a cluster of simple clear glass containers of various heights and sizes can be filled with a layer of limes and cherry tomatoes with bare branches from the backyard coming out of the top. For the others, try red and green apples topped by evergreen branches and cuffs of ribbon on the outside, Lowell suggested.

You can also try these ideas:

* Use unshelled nuts mixed with cranberries as a base to nestle a pillar candle -- a technique that's great for deep windowsills.

* Stud limes and apples with dots of gold hot glue and arrange them in platters, stands and bowls.

* If you have a small focal-point wall, attach six round mirrors to the center of six natural wreaths. Hang them on the wall, stacking them floor to ceiling. Add a single ribbon bow to each one.

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