For many people, the holiday season can put a strain on the old budget. So, if like us, you want to keep costs down and still have your home looking fabulous for when guests arrive, here are a few tips.

Have a plan and a budget from the start, otherwise things can get out of hand; trust us on this. Look for inspiration wherever you can: magazines, your friend’s homes, or online. This will help you have an idea of what you’re looking for once you start shopping. Make a list. If you don’t have one, you may be enticed by all the pretty lights and forget what you came for in the first place.

One way to buy lights or other Christmas decorations is to wait until after Christmas, when stores offer significant discounts. | Kevin Wong

Be thrifty and don’t wait until the last minute. Think about what you are getting and where you are shopping in advance. If you are looking for brand new decorations, buy them right after Christmas. Stores clear their holiday décor out with savings of 50 to 75 per cent, sometimes even more. So, that means either you save some money, or you end up getting three times as much as you planned. Garage sale and thrift stores are also good for awesome Christmas vintage finds. We bought about 70 per cent of our Christmas decorations and lights second hand, and they look great. Plus, there’s not much a can of matte gold spray paint can’t bring to life.

Aside from shopping smart, a little creativity goes far. A fresh Christmas tree could cost you anywhere from $40 to over $100 in box stores. Artificial trees cost even more. But you can make a Christmas tree to fit your house and budget out of almost anything. We found a few Christmas tree alternatives from the great Internet for your inspirations.

Make a tree stacked out of books, perfect for a bookworm. Imagine adding some twinkling string lights to a tree made from your favourite books. Now, if you are like us, all you need is a cup of warm tea or what Steven calls “a special cup of eggnog”, a comfy couch, and maybe some reading glasses, too.

Before shopping, make a list of what you need for decorations. | Kevin Wong

What about turning the Rat Creek Press into a Christmas tree? (Obviously, we expect, again EXPECT you to read all the great articles first!) Make this tree out of rolled-up newspapers, forming tiers that are supported by a wooden dowel in a flower pot. Find a dowel or branch, a flower pot, a bag of sand, a can of matte gold spray paint, and a hot glue gun or other adhesive. We challenge you to do a bit of reverse engineering to figure out how to put this tree together. Hint: start from the bottom tier first, or the top tier for a fashionable upside-down tree.

For those good at tying knots and with plenty of branches available, try a hanging tree. Cut branches starting from small lengths and gradually getting longer. Arrange the branches in the shape of a triangle. Then, tie the branches together vertically so you can hang the tree on a wall or door. Adorn with your favourite decorations or spice it up with dried flowers and fresh-cut greens. This might be the most space-saving DIY Christmas tree you can make. Make sure to hang it high enough so your kids or pets do not using your beautiful tree as a ladder.

Have fun decorating!

Featured Image: Writers Steven Townsend and Kevin Wong got about 70 per cent of their decorations second hand. | Kevin Wong