Author Topic: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)  (Read 1171 times)

SimpleCycle

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Anyone want to share frugal decorating ideas and tips for the holidays?  We are decorating for Halloween for the first time this year and I have determined that this is an area where you can be frugal or spend unlimited money, depending on your choices.

I am doing the front door covered with felt bats cut from a yard of felt obtained for about $4.

I am making "friendly ghosts" for the lawn - $10 of garden stakes (because I didn't have anything suitable lying around), $11 of white fleece, and $13 of of 6 inch styrofoam balls.  This felt on the expensive side to me, but is still less than buying similar ghosts, and I think mine will look better.

The bonus is putting together the decorations is pretty fun.


Trudie

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2020, 11:37:21 PM »
Check Pinterest.

Blue Skies

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2020, 05:55:51 AM »
The most frugal option is buying your decorations from yard sales or other secondhand options.  I used to buy decorations from the store once they were on deep clearance after the holiday as well.  I have a very nice, large  (fake) evergreen wreath that I got for less than $5 on clearance about 15 years ago. 

For Halloween most of my decorating is live pumpkins and gourds.  Not extremely frugal, but a nice family tradition to pick them out at the cheap little farm stand I found many years ago, and supports a small family business.

MyAlterEgoIsTaller

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2020, 10:04:19 AM »
Some years I've decorated for Halloween by building a scarecrow out of some old clothes, with a head made of an orange bucket with a face drawn on it in black Sharpie, and an old hat.  I stuff him with leaves and/or cardboard waiting from my recycling.
I haven't done that in the last couple years because it scared my next-door neighbor once (he thought it was somebody standing in my driveway in the dark.)

I have a glass pumpkin cookie jar that my family had since I was a kid, and from rummage sales I've picked up some kitschy pilgrim and turkey candles, and a pair of orange glass turkey-shaped candle holders that look nice with yellow candles.
My niece gave me a turkey-shaped refrigerator magnet she made in elementary school, and a fall-colored candle holder she made in high school pottery class.

That about does it for specific holiday-themed decorations (I don't have a lot of storage space for that sort of thing), but I rotate my kitchen towels, pot holders, etc. so that I'm using the ones with fall colors and apples and such in fall, and I get pumpkins, gourds, and apples from the farmer's market to display until I eat them.

Cranky

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2020, 10:20:06 AM »
Honestly, look at the thrift store. Christmas stuff, especially, there is just piles of it.

We did more Halloween stuff when our kids were little - we made ghosts and taped up pictures on the window and put up lights.

My son-in-law made a full sized skeleton out of milk jugs (found the directions online) and it is pretty cute.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2020, 11:19:11 AM »
Last year, we just let our store bought pumpkins rot and/or get eaten by the local wildlife. The seeds germinated and this year we'll be decorating with about two dozen large pumpkins and have spent nothing on them. We also have a rather large  "welcome great pumpkin" sign straight out of the Charlie Brown special that is now in its fourth year. The paint and materials to make it were under $20 from what I recall.

In contrast to Halloween, my Christmas decorations are more in the "unlimited money" category and are already into the four figure range for this year.

SimpleCycle

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2020, 11:57:28 AM »
We did more Halloween stuff when our kids were little - we made ghosts and taped up pictures on the window and put up lights.

Yup, I've got small children and we also live on the "goes big for Halloween" block.  This is our second Halloween in the house so we figured it was time to get with the program.  The kids are really excited about the decorations - DD wants to know if we can do the back of the house too.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2020, 12:17:56 PM »
I'm usually a "spend what makes you happy" type of person, so if seaasonally decorating is your thing, then go for it.  I personally love putting up Christmas lights because it's something my dad and I always did; and I use the old C9 bulbs, and it's kind of a challenge to go around and find them, so I enjoy it.

That said, I would question the urge to decorate for every season. Maybe I have a bad memory but it seems just recent that people started decorating for every holiday/season -- Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Spring, Memorial Day, Summer, July 4th, Labor Day, Fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas.  I can't tell you how many people in my neighborhood seem to have a flag and 4-5 chachkies for every holiday.

Halloween seems to be the big new thing. I live in the same neighborhood I grew up in and do not remember any of this stuff -- huge balloons, 15+ pumpkins on each lot, etc. Seems like a huge waste of storage and space. It's bizarre to me.

We put up two $6 straw wreaths with orange bows and call it a day.

kay02

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2020, 12:45:43 PM »
Honestly, look at the thrift store. Christmas stuff, especially, there is just piles of it.
I do this too!  I love finding ugly Christmas stuff at Goodwill.

Cranky

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2020, 02:31:02 PM »
I'm usually a "spend what makes you happy" type of person, so if seaasonally decorating is your thing, then go for it.  I personally love putting up Christmas lights because it's something my dad and I always did; and I use the old C9 bulbs, and it's kind of a challenge to go around and find them, so I enjoy it.

That said, I would question the urge to decorate for every season. Maybe I have a bad memory but it seems just recent that people started decorating for every holiday/season -- Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Spring, Memorial Day, Summer, July 4th, Labor Day, Fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas.  I can't tell you how many people in my neighborhood seem to have a flag and 4-5 chachkies for every holiday.

Halloween seems to be the big new thing. I live in the same neighborhood I grew up in and do not remember any of this stuff -- huge balloons, 15+ pumpkins on each lot, etc. Seems like a huge waste of storage and space. It's bizarre to me.

We put up two $6 straw wreaths with orange bows and call it a day.

I agree that the “decorate for every season” thing is pretty new, though even when I was growing up (and I’m old!) there were Halloween and Christmas decorations.

You don’t have to go crazy in the seasonal aisle at Target, though, because there really is a ton of secondhand stuff out there.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2020, 04:22:45 PM »
I am a certified Halloween nutcase. I got married on Halloween, and I do themed displays practically every year - with figures, animatronics, lighting and music. Storage is a bitch, but I don't collect much of anything else and it makes me very happy. I used to do a smaller display for x-mas but don't really bother now and downsized that holiday years ago. Mostly just do house roofline lights and a nice wreath on the door. I personally build most of my stuff from junk and tossed out stuff at this point - cardboard/coroplast/mailing tubes/scraps. Can't get much cheaper than free. ;)


My suggestion is to definitely check thrift stores, garage sales and dollar stores for stuff that works for you and is easy to store and won't fall apart easily. Seriously - people dump holiday decor ALL THE TIME and it can be had for pennies. I have a HUGE collection of plastic jackolanterns (the kind that have a small bulb) and vintage blowmolds (that I could resell for lots of money) that I amassed from garage sales, free on the curb and thrift stores... they are a pain to store but sooooo nifty to do a whole yard with these as the little kids LOVE them, and I have several of them "singing" along with Halloween songs (I have a sound sensitive gadget that blinks the lights in them along with the music).

And while this doesn't help much with things right this minute - the day after sales at places like Target are awesome. I've gotten brand new stuff I coveted for like 80% off. Just have to get up early and go raid the asiles. I also ask (when they're really cool) about the store displays. I've scored really well-made stuff meant for their Halloween display from World Market 2 years in a row that are AWESOME and unique - both of the sets are made from coroplast (corrogated plastic like political signs are made from) so that means they'll be fine exposed to weather!) Some of Target's displays are insane if you can get them...

You can find white sheets at goodwill and other fabrics all the time too, so I wouln't necessarily spend lots on new fabrics (but michaels/joann/hobby lobby all coupon match).

There is a whole line of animated character lighting/spotlights that can give you some fantastic bang for your buck and take up a tiny bit of space. Inflatables are cute and store well (but can get damaged and need checking for leaks sometimes). Webbing and a few GIANT spiders is always fun. I use the rough cheapy web in a bag stuff  and it's fantastic if you do it right (the secret is to unroll it all the way, and LOTS of anchor points - pull it out in all directions and work out the clumps and put it up at least a week or longer than the big day so it gets weathered and looks nice and creepy).

Cheapest pumpkins I've seen are usually Aldi, and if you don't carve them, they can last into November and can be dressed up for turkey time with some simple cornstalks (my longest lasting pumpkin was 6+ months old before it started rotting) and we usually do compost them no matter what.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2020, 04:29:32 PM by Frankies Girl »

rosarugosa

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2020, 06:33:46 AM »
Instead of buying gourds for fall decor, we buy interesting-looking squashes that we can also eat.

PMG

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2020, 08:05:32 AM »
Ooh! I want to follow this. I am not excited about all kinds of seasonal decor, but would like to do some winter holiday decorating.

You could put the call out on social media that you are looking to expand your decor collection, and while friends are going through theirs I bet they'd be glad to make some gifts or trades.

For Halloween I have been thinking diy witches out of trash bags could be a fun challenge. A little cardboard and glue underneath to create the shape, mounted on wooden stick... But, our house isn't visible from the street so there is no motivation to decorate outside.

I'm thinking most about Winter Holidays, and I'm calling it that because it makes me so sad when people take down their Christmas trees the day or week after!  The darkest coldest part of winter is just coming and I want some to create some loveliness that can last through the end of January at least! We also celebrate both New and Old Christmas and New Years. This will be our first year not visiting family and we need some extra cheer, but I don't want to get elaborate, or accumulate much.  Last year we were with family for New Christmas, we went to a holiday choir concert on Old Christmas and the typical party on New Years Eve. We gave each other a small gift each of those days (seriously, one of his gifts was socks... but we had a lot of fun surprising). What will we do this year!?  I guess that's off topic, but if our days will be mostly at home, I want to set the stage a bit more this year.

Inventory: I have a couple wooden ornaments that were gifted me over the years. I have a big string of white lights rescued from my brothers goodwill bin. I bought a couple spools of wide gold ribbon at the thrift shop. I've got a grapevine wreath that could be redecorated and a small battery powered string of lights also rescued from brother.  We have a holly bush in the yard, no berries, but red ribbon could give it that look.   

I like the idea of a tree, but we have a cat... We met an older couple who own a Christmas tree farm about 2 hour drive away. It would be so fun to road trip and buy a tree from them... but perhaps they also sell wreaths or just branches? The experience of the tree farm could be a great date.

I'd like to get a big paper star. Very Scandinavian. My MIL loaned us one the first year we had Christmas in P's home country.  I forgot all about it until just now, but we really enjoyed that star. I bet it's cheap at IKEA... or could be DIYed with poster board. The one she gave us folded down and was easy to store and had a little light bulb inside.

When I was a teenager I loved building paper and cardboard villages. That could be fabulous Christmas decor and a fun group activity.

I also love burning candles and have a collection of thrift shop ones.  Oh, I have fresh new red tapers that would look lovely nestled in some greens. 

In the past I've wrapped gifts quite early and let them pile up as decor.  I love gift giving so that little pile of presents to admire makes me all warm and bubbly inside.

We also have a fireplace (not working, TV mounted right over it), but it's got a mantel and room for stockings or a swag. Ooh I've got to remember those yule log fire videos, our placement is perfect for that!

Now you've got me thinking.

---

eta: I've gone down a rabbit hole.  Found loads of lovely paper star patterns online. I also remembered I've got a corded string of about 20 mini lights. I might make a little collection of paper stars with those lights to hang over the window in the living room! yay!

I also have one of those mottled rotating lights for outside. Bought it on discount for an art show but I've never used it. I'm not sure how I'd use it now, but I'll have to keep it in mind.  I say there's no reason to decorate outside since we're not visible from the street, but we do plan to do most of our entertaining outside around bonfires, so maybe a few things would be nice. 

When I was young I went to a christmas eve event that featured a long driveway with gorgeous luminaries.  Upon closer inspection the luminaries were just old milk jugs with a hole cut in, a little sand and a candle.  That would create a lovely party atmosphere! 

I also one time made an ice centerpiece. I frozen holly branches with berries in a big gallon bucket with an quart container in the middle to create a well, then popped it out in a tray at dinner time and lit a candle in the middle. Obviously short lived, but it was fun and free.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2020, 09:38:28 AM by PMG »

debbie does duncan

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2020, 04:44:34 PM »
@ PGM  What is New Christmas and Old Christmas?

PMG

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2020, 05:05:58 PM »
@ PGM  What is New Christmas and Old Christmas?

The adoption of the Gregorian calendar lead to different places being ahead or behind a couple days.  Sometimes it's the 5 or 6th of January depending on who you hear it from, but my spouse is from a traditionally eastern Orthodox country and they celebrate January 7th as Christmas.  They just call it Christmas, we add the old and new in front to help tell the two apart. His culture isn't very religious at all and places a lot more emphasis on the New Year holiday, with gifts, songs and events focusing on the New Year.  My culture celebrates New Christmas most. When we got together it seemed important to keep all three. Usually it means we can meet with extended family on New Christmas, friends on New Years Eve and still keep Old Christmas for a quiet celebration of our own. 

Is it a little too much? Maybe... but... naw. It's charming and low key. 

Sun Hat

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2020, 07:06:42 AM »
My best Halloween decorations were very cheap. I bought black poster board and orange crepe paper from the dollar store, and cut out assorted monster and witch silhouettes, taped them to the windows and papered over them with orange crepe paper. I found it especially effective to do cut-outs for the eyes so that they glow.

You could do the same idea for Christmas with a silhouette of Santa or a sleigh and some green crepe paper (I'd avoid red paper, or it might look ominous).

If you search Pinterest for Halloween window decor or scary silhouettes, you'll find them. 

TheFrenchCat

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2020, 09:27:56 AM »
This reminds me  I should probably dig out the Halloween decorations soon.  I got mine for free when the store I was working for closed, so they were going to throw them out. 

The biggest way I stay frugal is to preserve the decorations well and reuse them.  I add very little, if anything, from year to year.  The big exception is Christmas.  We do a real tree each year, cut from a local farm.  It actually costs less than the pre-cut ones I grew up with.  And most years I cut some branches from our trees to make wreaths. 

Villanelle

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2020, 11:03:26 AM »
Hit up thrift stores.  Also, ask them if they keep stuff out after the holiday, and for how long/at what discount.  Doesn't help for this year, but if they keep Halloween items out for three weeks after the holiday and drop prices 50%, you can stock up for next year, perhaps with some stuff from this year's donations if they store is quick to get those items onto the store floor. 

Also, join your local Buy Nothing group, if there is one, and put out an ask. 

okisok

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2020, 05:15:30 PM »
So many great suggestions! We did almost all of these things this year to decorate a LOT. I have noticed more decor for holidays--I assume it's because of Covid. People have more time at home to craft and plan and put out decor, and/or it's a morale booster for everyone who sees the house's decor.

SO bought several Halloween decorations on deep clearance last year, so we had brand-new lights to hang. We looked to Pinterest for inspiration from common craft supplies and recycling items. We hung a lot of stuff in the front window so we look *super* decorated, although it's minimal in the house.

Our local thrift stores have themed decor out all year long and the better ones do a grouped display to make it easy to find what you need. We have a few candy dishes and ceramic tchotchkes of the kind that go for pennies on the dollar at yard sales or thrift stores.

The Dollar Tree has a lot of really cute seasonal items. We were admiring a neighbors elaborate display, then saw all the items at DT! They decorated in trees, up the house, and across the lawn for about $30 by our calculations.

I usually buy a pile of edible gourds and group them by my front door. Thematic and food! We decorate with corn stalks, pumpkins, squashes, etc because our farming ancestors piled those items up during harvest time. Might as well continue the tradition, even if I didn't grow them myself.

AMandM

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Re: Frugal Holiday Decorating Ideas (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas)
« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2020, 08:18:49 AM »
The mainstay of our Christmas decorating is swags of fabric draped across the tops of windows and doorways. You can buy Christmassy fabric cheap during the craft stores sales, especially if you get the coupons that stack on top of sale prices. You get a lot of visual impact, you can make it as coordinated as you want, and you can choose a look--cute snowmen, glamourous gold, rich traditional colors, etc.

Not reusable but also cheap and high-impact for the $ are lots of candles. Ikea is the best source I've found.