Decorate for the holidays on a budget

I always say that if you want to be happier, spend your money on others and on experiences. So, I love hosting and treating my family and friends. But hosting can get expensive, especially over the holidays.

My friend, Jess, The Social’s intrepid roving reporter dropped by to shoot a segment on frugal decor: how to gussy up the house for a holiday dinner party. Here are some of the tips that I shared with her and a few extra decor hacks:

  • Decorate only where you think guests will mingle such as the food area. You can also put a few items in the powder room or main entrance to welcome people.
  • If you have an open mind (and an internet connection to look up ideas), you can create your own decor very cheaply, whether that’s gathering some greens or acorns from outside and dumping them in a vase or using wrapping paper to wrap empty boxes, make napkin rings or use as a table runner. I love using wrapped boxes or gifts as decor.


  • If you have a printer, labels for food or cupcake toppers can tie everything to your theme. You can download free printable labels fairly easily.
  • If you’re going to spend money on decorations, think about buying things that you can reuse. For example, anything white is very versatile (white serving platters, white lanterns). I have tons of vases from Dollarama that have made appearances at my wedding and then every party subsequent I’ve ever had.


  • When it comes to your holiday buffet table or dessert table, add more oomph to it by adding risers. Different levels make everything more visually interesting and thus more expensive.
  • It might be a headache to wash dishes at the end of the night but using real plates and flatware, whether it matches or not, will add some class to your dinner table setting.


  • Also, another one of my go-to tips that I use for every dinner party is that I mix fresh flowers with fake flowers or greens to create fab floral arrangements. Artificial hydrangeas are so damn real looking and add a lot of bulk to bouquets.
  • Create ambiance with candles and scents. For a smell that gets you in the holiday spirit, simmer some apple cider, cloves and cinnamon on your stove.
  • We have tons of kids in my family and circle of friends and we always like to make them feel welcome. Include some treats especially for them (cookies and milk in mini glass jugs, a gift just for them at their spot at the table or a mini toy chest like he’s come to Red Lobster).


A cost breakdown of a few items that make up the tablescape:

  • Table runner: strip of fabric from Fabricland, $7
  • White foliage on the table: $3 each x 6 from Dollarama
  • Candle holders: $2.50 each x 4 from Dollarama
  • Fresh flower budget: $20


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