Midwest Holiday Decoration Ideas on a Budget

Decorating for the holidays can be a super-fun way to show off your style and personality. And a well-decorated space can put everyone in the right mood for holiday cheer (a little eggnog doesn’t hurt either).

But what to do if your budget doesn’t allow you to go all out? Or you just can’t justify spending half your paycheck on a display that neighbors can see from around the block? There are plenty of ways to show off your holiday cheer without completely wrecking your budget. Read on for some of the best holiday decoration ideas in the Midwest — ones that you can pull off without breaking the bank.

Up in Lights

LED Style

If you’re committed to a holiday light display, consider going with LED lights. While they sometimes cost slightly more upfront, they have many advantages over regular bulbs. For one, LED lights will last longer than incandescent bulbs. They’re also more energy efficient, so you’ll save on your electric bill — according to the U.S. Energy Department, they use up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs. And because they don’t get hot, they’re also less of a safety hazard.

Brizled makes some of the best budget-friendly holiday lights available. They have smart lights that can be controlled with an app, used indoors or outdoors, and set using a timer. Best of all, the lights change color, meaning that you can switch the look throughout the holiday season. Go with cool winter colors for your Solstice celebration, and then switch over to Christmas reds and greens. Or customize your light display however you’d like for New Year’s.

Tea Lights

If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional holiday lights, try decorating with tea lights. They’re very cheap — you can pick them up from a dollar store or order them online for under $0.25 per candle. And they’re incredibly customizable. Arrange a bunch of them on a tray as the centerpiece for a candlelight dinner. Put them in jars or glasses to create DIY lanterns. Or use them to line a walking path or deck space for a classy vibe.

Of course, be careful if there are kids around! Consider flameless tea lights if there will be little ones running around your space.

Spruce Up Your Table

Holiday decorating can get expensive quickly, especially if you’re trying to fill every nook and cranny with festive decor. We’ve all been to the house where there’s a Santa (or an elf) on seemingly every shelf. But one alternative to filling your whole living space with decorative touches is to focus on the centerpiece — literally.

Wowing your guests with a well-designed table display is an affordable alternative. It’s likely that your dining table is already a primary gathering area for guests. That makes it the perfect spot to be the focal point of your festive display. Going all out with a table centerpiece and some thoughtful place settings can help you create the holiday vibe you’re after.

For example, a DIY Pointsetta centerpiece is a very affordable option for decorating your Christmas table. Using pumpkins and other seasonal gourds is perfect for creating a Thanksgiving centerpiece or just adding some general fall vibes to your table.

Creative place settings are another way to add some flair to your dining table. For a classy Christmas look, just tying a sprig of holly to a napkin is enough to evoke the season. Similarly, you can create place settings for your Thanksgiving table with nothing more than a bundle of herbs or a few pinecones.

Christmas Tree Alternatives

Bringing a whole tree into your house and finding enough decorations for it can be an overwhelming idea. Not to mention an expensive one — have you seen the prices for chopped trees these days?! One alternative that will let you feel both traditional and creative at the same time is a photo Christmas tree. That’s right — a tree-shaped collage of your favorite photos throughout the year.

The advantages over an actual tree are many. You won’t have to strap an unwieldy tree to your car and then haul it into your house. You won’t have to water it. And you won’t need to be sweeping up pine needles constantly. Win, win, win.

Of course, with well-chosen photos, this holiday decoration idea can also be a beautiful addition to your living space and a perfect way to commemorate the year that was. And it’s certainly more personalized than an evergreen tree.

A Touch of Nature

It doesn’t get much more cost-effective than using freely available, natural elements to decorate. And it’s pretty easy to add some festive touches to your holiday decor with items like pine cones and evergreens.

If you’re not planning to bring an entire tree into your place this holiday season, consider a DIY evergreen project. Make an evergreen wreath out of materials you can scavenge out in the wild. Alternatively, use pine branches to make garland displays that sit on your mantle, hang from your doorways, or frame mirrors or windows.

Pine cones and dried fruit are other natural materials that make for lovely holiday decorations. Adding pine cones to evergreen displays, DIY wreaths, or simply putting them out in display bowls can help create an earthy, fall vibe. Likewise, using dried orange or grapefruit slices as a decorative touch is perfect for creating a rustic holiday feel. Add them to garlands, place settings, or gift tags to provide a colorful accent.

Gifts as Decorations

Obviously, the holidays are a time for giving. But you can also capitalize on all the gifts you purchased and make them double up as decorations. Nicely wrapped gift boxes make for great decorative pieces, whether they’re under a tree, arranged on a shelf, or stacked as a display.

Here’s the thing — gift boxes don’t even need to be filled with presents to serve as decorative pieces. Grab some empty boxes, find some wrapping paper you like, and you’ve got a new holiday decoration. And it’s one you can reuse since no one will be unwrapping it!

Holiday Decor on a Budget

The above ideas are proof that the best holiday decoration ideas don’t necessarily have to empty your wallet. Whether you want your living space to be classy and minimalist or filled to the brim with holiday cheer, these ideas should give you a head start. Happy decorating!



  • Chris Kane

    Chris Kane is a military veteran and former business owner currently living in the Des Moines, Iowa, metro. Chris is an inveterate entrepreneur and avid web developer who is not shy about sharing his opinions.

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