It's nice to have a chance to stop by the forum again. I've missed all of you!
Those are all good ideas!
Here are some that have helped me save money....
Of course, the cheapest thing to do is use what we already have.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to get bored with decorations we've used over and over. If you're bored with your current ones, you could organize a decorations swap, much like a cookie swap. (You could even combine the two!)
You could re-purpose old/broken decorations by using them in craft projects. Previously used tin foil, wrapping paper and old magazines and be transformed into pretty ornaments too. Water bottles can become angels with enough creativity. (You too can have TP roll reindeer on your tree if you wish!)
People who are downsizing their homes or just purging their excess decorations might be more than happy to give you their extra decorations for free.
Getting small to medium-sized trees doesn't just save on the price of the tree. You also need fewer lights and decorations to make them look nice.
If you live in a climate where you can plant your tree after Christmas (not so easy where the ground is frozen solid) getting a live tree with roots can be an investment in your landscaping too.
Now might be a good time to buy evergreen bushes on clearance and trim them into an appropriate shape for a tabletop tree. There might even be small evergreen trees available on clearance right now at lawn and garden centers in your area.
Because my first year away from home the live trees were ridiculously expensive and impossible to transport with my small car, I bought an inexpensive artificial tree which I re-use year after year. It has saved me hundreds of dollars on live trees.
I still like the smell of fresh greenery though, so I have been known to let my bushes get extra bushy before the holidays and then use the trimmings to decorate the mantel, make centerpieces, etc. I also have a bush that has red berries on it, so I add some of those and pinecones too.
I discovered by accident that a strand of lights in a triangle/tree shape in your window can sometimes (from a distance) give the impression of an actual lighted tree.
Wild grape vines are annoying when they're climbing all over trees, but they make pretty wreaths or other decorations that you can use all year.
Instead of items specific to Christmas, etc. I usually buy tablecloths, platters, etc. in solid colors (or plain glass) that can work for multiple occasions.
Classic old toys you have can make cute decorations when arranged under your tree or by the fireplace. You can even tie a red bow around Teddy's neck or stick a stocking cap on his head.
Maybe you have mittens and an old sled, skis or ice skates that would make a nice display. A large stuffed animal dressed in an old Christmas sweater would be cute too.
Colorful candies and homemade cookies look pretty on a plate, wreath or the tree. Gingerbread houses can be magical.
Your holiday mug collection (from the 27 mug gifts you've received over the years) can look festive displayed on a shelf or table, esp. with a pretty tin of cocoa and marshmallows nearby.
Old holiday photos are always nice. Extra prints are inexpensive (and priceless) and you can attach several to a ribbon or to ornament hooks to hang them on the tree. You can even put them in a tree shape on your wall.
Angels, snowmen, antique toys, etc. can stay up after the holidays. I like that because "undecorating" is depressing for me!
If you can get a good deal on solar or LED Christmas lights, they are a good investment since they can save a lot on electricity. No matter what kind you have, for safety and saving, turn off lights when you go to bed.
Don't under-estimate the effect of music and scent. Bake something yummy or just bring a pot of water with baking spices to a boil on the stove. (Remember to turn it off! I forgot once and discovered it just in time.)
Be sure to focus your decorating efforts on areas where they'll have the most impact--usually the front door and the front room.
I hope I'll be able to be on here more in the next few months, but if not, Happy Holidays to all of you! I still think about you and pray for you regularly! Not a day goes by that I don't use something that one of you shared! :-)
"...for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil." Proverbs 15:15b-16 NLT
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.--Winston Churchill