14 Easy Holiday Decorating Ideas That Take 5 Minutes or Less

No time to adorn a tree? Dress up a doorway (or a bar cart...or a banister...)

bar cart

Between buying presents and cooking the big meal, who has days to devote to decorating every corner of their home for the holidays? But not decorating at all could earn you a reputation as a Scrooge. The happy medium? Deck the halls with these easy holiday decor ideas that take less than five minutes (seriously!) to set up.

Tiny touches, like hanging ornaments from the stair railings and adding a festive scent with cinnamon sticks, are all you'll need to decorate your home for the holidays. Here are our favorite under-five-minute ways to set the scene for Christmas.

01 of 14

Deck the Doorways

Christmas decoration ideas - Celestial Doorway
Nicole Franzen

Adorn a main doorway in your home with light-up stars, snowflakes, or bulb string lights. This sophisticated idea will add a charming glow to your home and is subtle enough to keep up after the holiday.

02 of 14

Beautify a Bar Cart

Party Central bar cart
Johnny Miller

If you have a bar cart, decorate it with seasonal touches, like metallic accents and a vase of winter flowers or foliage (even a grocery store bouquet works!). Leave out glasses and all the essentials for basic cocktails so guests can help themselves—and you won't have to play bartender. This trick works no matter if you're hosting inside or outdoors this year.

03 of 14

Create a Makeshift Mantel

Holiday Decorating Ideas, Shelfie with stockings
Emily Henderson Design; Photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

No fireplace? No problem. Let some open shelving stand in for a mantel, as the Emily Henderson Design team did here. Arrange decorative accents—think, miniature trees, string lights, snow globes, or flameless candles—then hang the stockings from the bookshelves with care.

04 of 14

Darling Clementines

Clementine wreath with jingle bells
Annie Schlechter

Take several lengths of heavy-gauge wire, knot one end of each, and string through a clementine and a jingle bell (yes, your hands may get a bit sticky). Twist all the wires into a cluster and secure with a large bow. Hang on a stair post or your front door.

05 of 14

Step It Up

Fast Holiday Decor Ideas, Ornaments on Stair Banister
Annie Schlechter

Even if you're not decorating a full tree this year, you can still display some prized ornaments. Hang your most eye-catching ornaments from beautiful ribbons throughout your home, including on the staircase.

06 of 14

Lend a Hand

Easy Holiday Decorating Ideas, Mittens
Annie Schlechter

Pin mittens―either stray ones or pairs your kids have outgrown―to lengths of yarn and display them along a mantel or a bookshelf. You can also hang kids' striped wool socks or knit hats.

07 of 14

Bundles of Joy

Last-Minute Christmas Decorations, Cinnamon Stick Ornaments
Annie Schlechter

Try hanging something unexpected on the tree, like a bunch of fragrant cinnamon sticks. You can also leave fresh cinnamon sticks out in a bowl as a simple DIY take on traditional potpourri.

08 of 14

Just Log On

Cozy Winter Living Room with fireplace
ExperienceInteriors/Getty Images

Here's one roaring fire that isn't a huge bother to get started. Simply search "Fireplace for Your Home" on Netflix to watch an old-fashioned fireplace that also happens to play classic holiday tunes.

09 of 14

Feast for the Eyes

Pinecone Holiday Centerpiece
Annie Schlechter

Gather a bunch of doilies in white and silver and tape them together (or secure with a dab of glue) to form a one-of-a-kind table runner. For an inexpensive wintry centerpiece, fill glass vases and large compotes of different heights with pinecones. Spray-paint the pinecones gold and silver for extra sparkle, or leave them as nature intended.

10 of 14

Sunken Treasure

Holiday Decor Ideas, Poinsettias
Annie Schlechter

It's no secret that poinsettias can seem as clichéd as fruitcake. But they can also make a sophisticated statement. The trick: Take them out of their foil-lined pots and sink them into pretty vases.

11 of 14

Letter Perfect

Holiday Decor Wreath with Initials
Annie Schlechter

Put your stamp on a wreath by hanging your surname's initial in the center. This zinc version glitters in the light.

12 of 14

Setting Pretty

Fast and Easy Decor Ideas, Place Cards
Annie Schlechter

Turn old holiday cards into place cards. Cut them into star shapes and add tissue paper cutouts to match; punch a hole, tie with a ribbon, and label accordingly.

13 of 14

Take a Bow

Easy Bow Wreath
Annie Schlechter

Finally, a use for those colorful store-bought bows you've saved every year―and a project the kids can do. Take a plain paper plate, cut out the center, and stick bows all over it to create a sweet wreath.

14 of 14

Window Dressing

Easy Christmas Decor, Window Decorations
Annie Schlechter

There's more to holiday decorating than just the tree and the mantel―consider window ledges and empty bookshelves, too. Place pine boughs in a large vase and hang a handful of ornaments on them. Fill old jars with pistachio nuts, winterberries, or red peppercorns and nestle a tealight on top. Or go for a seashore motif, assembling an array of starfish draped with a length of plain red string.

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