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5 Christmas decorating ideas on a budget

Creating a beautiful festive feel needn’t be expensive or stressful, says leading Australian stylist Emma Knowles. Choose a colour scheme or theme, then follow our simple tips to carry it through on everything from your tree to gift-wrap and table decorations. You’ll be in the Christmas spirit in no time.

A christmas lamp with mixed holly and mistletoe

1. An Aussie Christmas

While our friends in the Northern Hemisphere are all about dark green holly, mistletoe and shiny red berries, we’re opting for a relaxed Australian feel with native foliage - think the soft silvery greens of gum leaves, silver dollar eucalyptus and woolly bush, with a touch of traditional red Christmas bush.

A low-profile garland or wreath of eucalyptus in the centre of the table means guests can still see over the arrangement to chat and pass around food, and a small stem of the same at each table setting, looped with a pretty ribbon and name tag continues the theme. Add touches of natural texture, such as rattan, raffia and pale white-washed timber for a laid-back vibe.

A christmas plate set up with a cracker, a tied cloth and gold cutlery

2. Festive metallics

Gold never goes out of style, while hints of subtle copper or rose gold bring a contemporary touch to your holiday scheme. A little goes a long way – a gold edge detail on tableware or glassware, or inexpensive gold cutlery are simple ways to add some festive finery.

A glittering gold Christmas ornament atop a folded napkin at each place setting is also a lovely touch. Think subtle accents rather than outright bling, and pair with plenty of crisp white for a fresh feel.

If you’re hosting a Christmas dinner, candlelight brings this look to life, so consider incorporating votive candles in little glass jars or gold-toned lanterns among your table décor for some festive flicker.

A table cloth drapped across a white table with two white plates with a stem of dried leaves

3. Perfect place settings

Adding a decorative element to each place setting kicks the festive spirit and sense of occasion up a notch. We love to add a Christmas cracker and gift tag to each setting, or if you are serving a buffet-style meal, create a pretty cutlery bundle by wrapping a knife, fork and spoon in a napkin and tie with decorative ribbon.

Pile the crackers on the buffet table along with the food so each guest can take one as they serve themselves.

3 stacked christmas presented with white paper and red striped ribbons

4. All wrapped up

Gift-wrapping is the perfect opportunity to run with the colour palette or theme you’ve chosen, and there are plenty of gorgeous wrapping papers to choose from in-store.

Red is ever on-trend and pairs equally well with native Australian foliage as it does with metallic accents. Try taping a band of contrasting paper around gift boxes, mix up patterns with plains, and layer with ribbons and tags in the same colour palette.

3 stacked christmas presents next to a natural christmas tree with loose and simple decorations

5. O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

We love a towering Christmas tree as the centrepiece to festive gift-giving, but we also can’t resist a mini potted tree as a decorative feature on a sideboard, buffet or Christmas bar cart.

For a truly Aussie Christmas tree, a miniature Wollemi pine is perfect, or even a young woolly bush. Whatever your choice, the delicate boughs call for light-weight Christmas decorations, so opt for plastic baubles, hand-made paper chains (put the kids to work on these using wrapping paper offcuts!) and short strands of fairy lights. Wrap the pot in wrapping paper or hessian, secure with a ribbon and you’re done.