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My Favorite 5 Affordable (and Fast) Holiday Party Decorating Hacks

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 10 2

While we were contemplating what holiday content we would like to put out this year, we came across this post published a few years ago and realized these are the hacks I still go back to year after year. So if you are looking for some easy decorating ideas you can do with things you likely already own, this post is for you.

As a general mantra, I like to come across like I’ve cared, but not that I’ve tried too hard. I think it’s actually the secret to life. So at this point, your tree is likely up and decorated and you might have a garland or two, but maybe you are of the “lets amp this up” type say for a party or just a general injection of more holiday cheer. After seeing my house, Jess’ apartment, and Arlyn’s apartment decorated, plus past projects, we realized that there are some easy and affordable things that we have done (with stuff you might already have) that make a big impact. Let’s get right to it.

1. Wrap any and all presents and style with them

Of course, the key to this is hoping that you don’t only have pokemon wrapping paper on hand, but honestly, even if it’s just solid colors, craft paper, or newspaper (with simple ribbons), it does the job.

We use them almost like we would books in styling, in fact, yes I’ve wrapped MANY a book. See how cute a couple stacked on top of each other adds just a little more holiday cheer?

2. Pepper large plastic cheap ball ornaments on surfaces

They are graphic and simple for your eye to understand, but say holiday immediately. So easy and so affordable as you typically have leftovers hanging out in your bins (if not, your tree likely won’t miss a dozen or so).

I like to mix sizes, colors and even textures to add an extra layer of interest. You can group just a few (2-3) or even add a few solo moments here and there.

3. Cedar branches are a styling dream

Short on garland? Cedar (or eucalyptus or any green branches) can be a very cheap substitute for amping up the styling. I promise it’s SO EASY.

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You can put it on shelving, credenzas, coffee tables, mantels even hang it on art, like Jess did.

4. Fairy lights will light up your holiday decor and life

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 9

Just put them on those cedar branches (or even a houseplant if it’s appropriate) for instant holiday ambiance, which is all we really want, right?


Arlyn even put them in her non-working fireplace. Like why not??

5. Red…it may be obvious but totally undervalued

You don’t need a ton of it. Bring in big bursts of this color in large ornaments, ribbon, bows, or wrapping paper. Yes, you can buy a poinsettia, just consider taking it out of its plastic coat and putting it in a more modern vessel.

You can also throw that pop of red in a pillow, throw and/or small decorative figurines. And the best part is literally any style can handle red. Take the Portland house above. It’s a traditional space so we used a classic red. Then below in Jess’ modern apartment, she used a less traditional berry red. It’s festive but in a fresh different way.

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Both have the perfect amount of punch for a little more holiday love.

Holiday decor doesn’t need to be expensive or a money suck. Look around at what you have and you most likely have all (or most) of what you need to add that extra layer of holiday cheer. I hope this was just the right amount of inspiration to make your holiday a little happier and cozier. Do you guys have any other easy, budget-friendly styling hacks to share? Let us know in the comments.

And if you are looking for even more holiday inspiration, here are some very helpful posts for you:

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