Some illuminating ideas to bring home for the holidays

We know your budget is tight, but great style doesn’t have to have a big price tag.

For many of us, it’s not a question of if, it’s how we will decorate for the holidays that can make the difference.

A recent survey of 1,500 readers of Redbook magazine found fewer folks are traveling for the holidays because of the sour economy, but 92 percent said they will decorate their homes. And about one-third said they will “go all out” in their designs.

Why? It gets them in the holiday spirit and puts them in a good mood, according to eight out of 10 in the survey.

So how do you decorate with style without blowing your budget? Try these quick, easy and inexpensive ideas to pep up your holiday decor.

Festive touch for backyards

One of the easiest ideas comes from Cottage Christmas magazine. All of us who have privacy walls in our zero-lot line developments can steal the idea of stringing lights and mirror garland on the wall. You also can string lights around your garden’s other architectural features, such as urns and statues. (Better savor the ideas in this final issue. Time Inc. recently closed the parent publication, Cottage Living.)

Glowing tribute

We are always looking for ideas that can last throughout the year. And we love this one from Crate & Barrel. Use your own hurricanes or buy 6-inch and 8-inch handblown hurricanes ($24.95 and $39.95). Insert red holiday pillar candles (3-by-4 inches for $6.95 and 3-by-6 inches for $7.95). The final touch is adding mini red and white glass ornaments from Germany (12 for $18.95). Take them out and use the hurricanes year-round.

Going green

Over the past few years, Christmas stocking holders have become more creative. The Ilex Topiary Stocking Holders from Ballard Designs ( can help decorate a fireplace mantel or a bookshelf. The greenery, in ball or dome designs, is hand-crafted of fabric with bunches of bright red berries. More color is added with the choice of red or green ceramic pails ($21.75 each).

Creating first impression

The first area your guests see — whether it’s the foyer or a vignette near the entrance — should say “Merry Christmas.” The folks at HomeGoods suggest you create a focal point by grouping new and old items. A great look is white and silver, which you can easily supplement with mirrored pieces and silver you already own. Use two faux trees in different heights to frame a grouping on one side and use a chair on the other.

Red and white all over

Robert Rufino, former president of Creative Services and Visual Merchandising who decorated Tiffany’s windows in New York, came up with a simple way to decorate a banister for the December issue of House Beautiful. Forget the garlands laden with pine cones. Rufino took red and white paper bells and attached them to the banister with fishing line. Don’t worry about creating a perfect line, he says, just keep adding bells. This is a great idea for folks who don’t have a lot of storage space because the bells fold flat.