You may not have a mantle or a sprawling front porch to bedeck, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in on these gorgeous holiday decorating ideas.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated November 13, 2018
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Holiday decorating ideas can run large: sprawling yards turned into spooky graveyards, front porches filled with a whole patch’s worth of pumpkins, a mantle overflowing with holly and evergreen branches. These elaborate set-ups certainly look impressive, but they require a lot of time and energy—and a lot of space.

Whether you’re living in a pint-sized apartment or dorm room or just want to stick to a tight budget (money- and space-wise) this holiday season, these holiday decorating ideas for small spaces will help you make your festive décor dreams come true … just on a smaller scale.

Holiday Decorating Idea #1: An Eloquent Doormat

Every home has a front door and, unless you live in a weather-less region, you likely need a doormat anyway, for wiping off muddy shoes. Swapping out a worn, year-round doormat for one with a sweet seasonal saying is simple and has a huge impact, as every visitor will see it (and probably ask where you got it). Best of all, this low-cost trick takes up absolutely zero space inside your home.

To buy: Hey There Pumpkin Welcome Mat, $36; etsy.com.

Holiday Decorating Idea #2: An Elaborate Front-Door Wreath

Wreaths can be year-round décor, but swapping out your standard door décor for one with autumnal blooms or Thanksgiving-appropriate colors strikes a perfectly seasonal tone, with little to no effort on your part. This decorating method stays completely outside, too, so you’re not sacrificing any of your precious storage space for a little festivity.

To buy: Farmhouse Wheel Wreath, $130; etsy.com.

Holiday Decorating Idea #3: All-Season Hurricanes

These tall, stately vases are versatile year-round decorating tools; all you need is a small shelf or table to set them on. For fall, fill them with pumpkins, leaves, and other textural, seasonal finds. When the seasons change, simply swap out the items inside.

To buy: London Narrow Clear Hurricane Candle Holder, $25; crateandbarrel.com.

Holiday Decorating Idea #4: Clever Letterboards

Letterboards are having a moment, and for good reason: They’re versatile and crafty, without relying on DIY skills like penmanship and needlepoint that not everyone has. Let your holiday wit (or these Christmas card sayings) shine with a prominently placed letterboard. You can swap out your phrases for every holiday, or go all-out with a new look every day; either way, guests will be applauding your holiday decorating creativity.

To buy: Project 62 Letter Board with Letters, $15; target.com.

Holiday Decorating Idea #5: Swappable Throw Pillows

Throw pillows are an incredibly versatile way to decorate on a budget and in a small space, and swapping out standard pillows for seasonal ones is a minute’s work. Out-of-season pillows can be tucked away, of course, but if you’re really short on storage, they can be simply turned around and used as blank backgrounds that let your in-season pillows shine.

To buy: Blushing Llama Embroidered Throw Pillow With Tassels, $35; worldmarket.com.

Holiday Decorating Idea #6: An Overflowing Window Box

If you want every passerby to see your holiday decorating skills, set up a window box and fill it with natural accents. You can edit its decorations as holidays come and go and seasons change, without having to clutter up your home’s interior.

To buy: Mayne 4 ft. Nantucket Black Plastic Window Box, $96; homedepot.com.

Holiday Decorating Idea #7: Windowsill Vignettes

If you have clear windowsills but few other open spaces for displaying decorations, put those sills to work as the settings for small vignettes (which can be changed out for each holiday and season, BTW). Your holiday decorations will be out of the way—perfect if you have unruly pets or small children—and you’ll still get to indulge in a little holiday décor. We call that one a win-win.

To buy: Pallet Wood Bin by ArtMinds, $5; michaels.com.

Holiday Decorating Idea #8: A Welcoming Door Sign

If bulky wreaths aren’t quite your style, consider a friendly door sign instead. These can be customized for each holiday and season and take up minimal space in storage.

To buy: Trick or Treat, $25; helloheidishop.com.

Holiday Decorating Idea #9: An Easy Wall Display

In small spaces, wall space (a.k.a. vertical space) is full of potential. Make the most of bare (or partially bare) walls with clever banners, wall hangings, and more. Plus, taking them down at the end of the holidays will be a breeze.

To buy: Thankful Burlap Banner By Celebrate It, $5; michaels.com.

Holiday Decorating Idea #10: A Sparkling Centerpiece

In a small home, you may not have a mantle or a huge stoop, but you probably have a table where you eat most of your meals. Arranging a small centerpiece on this table lets you channel a little creativity and enjoy a daily festive reminder. And, like so many other DIY decorating ideas, it can be edited for each holiday and season as it comes.

To buy: Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Round Wood and Wire Tray, $30; target.com.

Holiday Decorating Idea #11: Pretty Railing Wrapping

If you have a stair railing (even if it’s just a few feet long), you have a prime spot for a holiday garland that has plenty of cheer but takes up no surface areas in your home. For Halloween and Thanksgiving, this can have leaves, pumpkins, gourds, and more; for the winter holidays, look for one with ribbons, evergreen branches, and tinsel.

To buy: Sunflower and Fall Leaf Garland, $20; wayfair.com.