Too many decorations, not enough space. It’s a tale as old as time. November rolls around and you frantically hit “add to cart” on all your favorite holiday decor, only to find that you have nowhere to put any of it. Or maybe you promised yourself that this will be the year you keep things low-key, but it turns out you have no idea how to decorate minimally when the rest of the world is going all out.
Admittedly, trying to decorate for the holidays in both of these scenarios can be tricky, to say the least. So, to make things easier, we’ve rounded up some holiday decorating ideas that will bring a ton of festive cheer into your home, regardless of how big your house is, how busy your schedule is, or what your holiday budget looks like. Keep scrolling for 20 low-key, small space-friendly ways to decorate for the holidays this year.
1. Ditch or downsize the tree
Christmas trees can encroach on a small space and make maneuvering around more difficult. Granted, ditching the tree altogether may seem like the least festive thing in the world, but there are plenty of other ways to spread some holiday cheer. For example, display your favorite ornaments in a glass vase or bowl instead of hauling out the whole tree. However, if you can’t bring yourself to forgo the classic evergreen, consider downsizing or setting smaller trees on mantels, shelves, or countertops.
2. Decorate with festive candles
Is anything more fitting for the coziest time of the year than a warm candlelit ambiance? Candles are an easy way to add a festive air without sacrificing legroom. Get creative and place some festive candles on a chic serving tray, on windowsills, or on end tables. If you’re not using artificial candles, opt for holiday-scented ones to really set the vibe.
3. Swap, don’t add
Rather than adding to the decor you already have, simply swap existing items with something holiday-themed that’s roughly the same size. For example: Replace framed photos on shelves or tabletops with festive artwork, gnomes, mini Christmas trees, etc. Maintaining balance is key to avoiding making the room feel cluttered or smaller.
4. Pick one decoration to be the star
This is an idea I got from my mom and now use in my own home to keep things simple and cohesive. Although there’s a plethora of holiday decorations out there, most of us have something specific we love—for me, it’s reindeer figurines; for my mom, it’s snowmen. For the holidays, she swaps her everyday decor with lots of ceramic snowmen, which form the basis of her whole holiday decorating scheme. Find one type of decoration that brings you joy, and emphasize it throughout your home: on serving trays, amid other ornaments on your tree, etc.
5. Stick with lighter colors
You’ve likely heard of the design rule that says dark colors can make a small room look even smaller. Just like lighter wall colors will make a room look more spacious, the same can be said about your holiday decorations. Instead of leaning on traditional red and green holiday decorating ideas, reach for hues of ivory, cream, and beige to keep things light and bright.
6. Rethink the tree
Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes, so don’t be afraid to rethink the standard version. In truth, your tree can be whatever you want! Create a DIY version made from evergreen snippings, mini ornaments, and lights in a large vase. Or opt for a tall, skinny tree that can easily slide into a corner. You could even fashion a deconstructed version on the wall made from greenery and garland. Whichever you choose, you’ll still invoke plenty of tidings of comfort and joy.
7. Keep it cohesive
When decorating for the holidays in a small space, stick with the color scheme of the room to help keep it from feeling cluttered. For example, my living room was previously painted dark blue and furnished with a white sectional and silver coffee table, so I opted for a white tree with dark blue, light blue, silver, and white ornaments. It matched perfectly, and the tree didn’t feel like it was infringing on my space.
8. Create a festive serving tray
Adorn a serving tray with some of your favorite holiday decor and place it on your coffee table, bar cart, kitchen counter, or dining table to invoke some holiday spirit and keep things organized. All you need is a few festive items—like candles, ornaments, faux snow, sprigs of greenery, or pinecones. If you want to be totally on-trend for 2023, tie a velvet bow onto the handle.
9. Add decor to your dining space
Holiday decorating ideas aren’t restricted to just the living room—even in a small space, you can add festive touches to your kitchen and dining area as well! Set your table with holiday place settings, hang wreaths on cabinets or the backs of chairs, or add a winter bouquet or taper candles in gold or silver holders to your table. Draping garland on top of your kitchen cabinets is also a fun way to sprinkle in some festive cheer without sacrificing any usable space.
10. Place presents under the tree
Don’t wait until Christmas Eve for Santa to put the presents under the tree—get your wrapping done ahead of time and place them there yourself! This will make the space feel cozier without taking up too much room. Plus, seeing presents under the tree will likely invoke nostalgic feelings and excitement from childhood, which is never a bad thing.
11. Opt for a monochromatic vibe
If you’re a minimalist at heart, opting for a monochromatic vibe will give your holiday decorations a simple and clean look. For a mostly neutral or white scheme that doesn’t feel boring, incorporate some dimension and texture with a flocked tree or wreath, and mix in metallics and ornaments of varying shapes and sizes.
12. Utilize wall space
For an easy seasonal display, swap out your current wall decorations for some holiday options. This can be anything from spirited art prints to paper snowflakes, stockings, or Christmas cards. There’s no wrong way to do this, and it’s a great way to spruce up your home for the season without sacrificing space.
13. Work with windows
Decorating your windows will keep things in view and out of the way, without contributing to clutter. Windowsills are great for displaying things like holiday villages or candles, and garland always looks nice as a frame. Likewise, wreaths, paper stars or snowflakes, and banners also work well here.
14. Maximize your mantel
If you’ve been blessed with a fireplace, it’s time to maximize that mantel. Go all out with your favorite holiday decorating ideas and make it the focal point of the room. This will keep things festive and functional since the decorations will be visible but tucked out of the way. And if you’re in the camp of keeping things low-key this year, a great mantel display is enough to make an impactful statement.
15. Remove the ornaments
There’s something about the simplicity of a tree without ornaments that is just *chef’s kiss* to me. It’s sleek, hassle-free, and modern. However, if a plain tree looks a bit naked to you, add a small topper to tie everything together or wrap it in twinkling string lights for some subtle sparkle.
16. Lean on holiday pillows and throws
It’s the most wonderful time of the year to cozy up on the couch, and holiday pillows and throws are the perfect way to keep things simple. For a chic, low-key look, go for some creamy neutrals and fuzzy faux furs.
17. Drink and be merry
Gather ‘round the holiday spirits for a simple yet festive display. Deck out your bar cart with things like faux snow, greenery sprigs, and micro trees for some holiday flair. And if you’re hosting a holiday party, be sure to stock up on winter cocktail staples, like cranberries, candy canes, and cinnamon sticks ahead of time so you and your guests can drink and be merry.
18. Warm up your lighting
Warm lighting feels especially inviting and cozy around the holidays. For soft, festive lighting, you can’t go wrong with string lights, especially ones shaped like snowflakes or stars. Wrap them around a staircase or pillar, or strategically hang them along your wall trim. You can also place a twinkling LED wreath on your wall in place of artwork.
19. Frame your entryway
Framing your entryway provides a simple yet dramatic touch. Green garland is obviously a timeless choice, but you can also opt for silver or gold for a monochromatic moment or pick a bold color to liven up the room.
20. Go for a pink tree
If you loved the Barbie movies as much as we did and subsequently adore all things pink, this is for you. Keep the rest of your holiday decorating ideas neutral and opt for a pink tree for the perfect amount of wow factor. Reach for a matching pink tree stand and ornaments in various shades of pink, white, or black for a polished look.