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The Cheapskate’s Guide to Christmas Decorating and Gift Buying

Save money this Christmas without sacrificing your love for decorating, gift giving and shopping!

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OrnamentsThe DIY Playbook

Decorating Idea: Knockoff Kate Spade Ornaments

Why settle for store-bought decor when the DIYer in you can create something fantastic, and for a much smaller price tag? Designer ornaments usually cost at least $15 each, but you can make a dozen of these beauties for the price of one of those!

Get all of the how-to steps here from The DIY Playbook.

If you have these holiday decorations, watch out for these fire hazards.

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iceKati Finell/Shutterstock

Decorating Idea: DIY Ice Lanterns


You could buy two plastic forms designed specifically for making ice lanterns for $40, but save your money and use items you already have on hand. You’ll need medium to large plastic containers, evergreen sprigs and/or winter berries (optional), water and a big freezer or below-freezing outdoor temperatures.

Take the containers (buckets work great because they have handles!) and fill with water, leaving an inch or two of space at the top. Put the container(s) of water in the freezer or outside. Leave them for about 24 hours and check on them (freezing times vary so you may want to make a few trial lanterns before you make the ones you’ll actually use). What you want is pretty thick ice on the top and sides with unfrozen water in the middle. When you think they’re ready, turn the container upside down and pour some warm water over the container to loosen the ice inside. Lift off the container and chip away some of the ice on top (which was the bottom of the container). Dump out the water inside and shape the opening to accommodate whatever type of candle (wick or battery-operated) you’d like to use.

If you’d like to include some evergreen springs and or winter berries, place them around the sides of the container so they freeze into the walls of the lantern.

The following 26 handy hints for the holidays will help you stay sane before, during and after this year’s festivities.

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frameDollar Tree

Decorating Idea: Holiday Photo Booth Frame


Grab some crafts from the dollar store to create a festive photo booth frame. It’s a budget-friendly decoration that is sure to liven up your holiday party! You’ll need:

  • Foam Poster Board
  • Box-Cutting or Serrated Knife
  • Ruler or Straightedge
  • Marker
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Hot Glue Sticks
  • Wrapping Paper
  • Ornaments
  • Battery-Operated LED String Lights
  • Batteries

Here are the complete instructions.

Get in the holiday spirit without sacrificing your love for minimalist design.

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CoversChristmas House

Decorating Idea: Santa Hat Chair Covers


Don’t let the dining table get all the attention this Christmas! These Santa hat chair covers are the perfect way to add a touch of holiday whimsy without breaking the bank. They’re 4 for $5.99!

Tired of paying top dollar for your Christmas wreath? Venture into your backyard to gather materials for these fresh and easy-to-make wreaths. No two are alike!

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wreathDollar Tree

Decorating Idea: Rustic Wreath


This wreath looks great indoors or out and can be painted and embellished to suit your style, but the best part is, it’s very inexpensive to make. Here’s what you need:

  • Pack of 50 Clothespins
  • Approx. 14-in. Wire Wreath Form
  • Paint or Markers
  • Small Bows, Red Pom-Poms or other decorations
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Hot Glue Sticks

Here are the complete instructions.

Check out this collection of 15 excellent strategies for saving money during the holidays.

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toiletOLIA DESIGN

Decorating Idea: Santa Claus Seat Cover


For less that $10, you can crank up the Christmas-kitsch factor big-time with this 3-piece commode set. It’s sure to delight the kids and get a few eyerolls from the adults! If you feel you’re running out of time to decorate for the holidays, check out these 15 last-minute decorating ideas..

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TerrariumTerraGreen Creations

Gift Idea: A Terrarium


If you know someone who would love a mini garden for their desk or coffee table, you’ve got two options. You can give them this kit, along with a plant or two and they can create their own terrarium. The other option is for you to create it for them with or without a kit. Here are 12 excellent tips on making a terrarium.

Here are 20 perfect gifts ideas for the DIYers in your life!

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bakingDollar Tree

Gift Idea: Themed Gift Baskets


Rather than buying a pre-wrapped gift baskets, go to the dollar store and purchase everything you need to make a customized basket for around $15. Here’s what you’ll need for a basket for anyone who loves to bake:

  • Oven Mitt, Pot Holders, and Kitchen Towel Set
  • Red or White Plastic Mixing Bowl with Handle
  • Cookie Mixes
  • Whisk
  • Christmas Cookie Cutters
  • Spatula
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Sprinkles
  • Cookie Turner
  • Wooden Rolling Pin
  • Kitchen Timer

Here are 12 great gifts you can give this holiday season that will delight those on your gift list without breaking the bank.

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toolsDollar Tree

Gift Idea: “Handy Holidays” Gift Basket


For the friend who loves DIY home improvement, put together this gift basket. It’s filled to the brim with things that will make them smile (and get to work!) You’ll need:

  • Tool Box
  • Screwdrivers Set
  • Tape Measure
  • Wire Stripper
  • 6-ft. Extension Cord
  • Travel-Size LED Flashlight
  • “AA” Batteries
  • Hex Key Set
  • 26.5-oz. Glass Sports Mug
  • Beer Nuts
  • Plastic Level
  • Safety Gloves
  • Thermal Socks
  • Toe Warmers
  • Hat

Need to find a gift for a guy or gal who loves tinkering in their home workshop? You can’t go wrong with any of these seriously cool tools.

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giftAleksej Antonuk/Shutterstock

Gift Idea: Your Time!


One great idea for saving money this holiday season is giving the gift of your time! You can print out a certificate template or design your own that says something like: “One free night of babysitting,” or “One free morning of yard work.” Your cost? $0! Spread some holiday cheer with these DIY gift wrap ideas.

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signSignJoker

Gift Idea: Custom Street Sign


Give someone special in your life a custom street sign for their man cave tor she shed this Christmas. It’s a budget-friendly gift that you can personalize!

Here’s an inexpensive gift you can make in about an hour.

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BasketDollar Tree

Gift Idea: “Mr. & Mistletoe” Gift Basket


This is the perfect gift basket for Mom and Dad, or another couple you love dearly. Provide them all the essentials for a romantic date night this winter without over spending!

You’ll need:

  • 2 Gold Plastic Charger Plates
  • 2 Wine Glasses
  • Vase
  • Glass Gems and Pillar Candle (To Create The Cylinder Vase Centerpiece)
  • 2 Votive Candles
  • Ice Bucket
  • 2 Bottles of Sparkling Cider
  • Chocolate Cookies
  • 2 Christmas Mugs
  • Box of Hot Cocoa
  • Box of Peppermint Bark
  • 2 Santa Hats
  • Plastic Basket or Container
  • Paper Shreds & Ribbon

Who doesn’t like free food? So make a meal, a batch of cookies or a dessert for someone (or everyone!) on your holiday gift list.

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Alexa Erickson
Alexa is an experienced lifestyle and news writer, currently working with Reader's Digest, Shape Magazine and various other publications. She loves writing about her travels, health, wellness, home decor, food and drink, fashion, beauty and scientific news. Follow her traveling adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: [email protected] and check out her website: livingbylex.com