Look on the brighter side

CHRISTMAS is just days away and the neighbourhood, usually glittering with adornments, is looking a bit drab because the recession has affected décor plans.

CHRISTMAS is just days away and the neighbourhood, usually glittering with adornments, is looking a bit drab because the recession has affected décor plans.

But this should not dampen the Christmas spirit. With careful planning, it is still possible to maintain the Christmas spirit without spending too much.

There are lots of ways to enjoy the season on a limited budget. Here are nine tips to decorate your house without breaking the bank.

l Ask your family and friends for second-hand Christmas decorations. Chances are some of them will be more than happy to get rid of the boxes of Christmas lights and ornaments gathering dust in their garages and closets.

l Decorate your door and walls with old Christmas cards. Instant holiday cheer that can be put up and dismantled very easily. For a fancier effect, put them in inexpensive wooden frames.

l Fill a clear bowl or jar with holiday-coloured candy.

l Wrap Christmas-coloured ribbon around lamps, vases and candles. You can even tie a pretty bow on your door knobs and wrap your stair railing with ribbon as well. No need to buy new holiday accessories when all you need is a roll of pretty-looking ribbon.

l Bake your own Christmas cookies. You might not have the money to buy red and green matching kitchen accessories all over again, but you probably have enough money to buy red and green cookie sprinkles. When all is said and done, few things are as festive as the smell of sugary sweets baking in the oven. Before you eat them all yourself, put them into cellophane bags for family and loved ones and tie the bags with ribbon.

l Reconsider buying a big Christmas tree. You can decorate your existing house plants with little ornaments and even wrap the pots with gold or shiny red foil. And speaking of ornaments ...

l Display extra Christmas ornaments in a large clear bowl or platter. Add a home-made spray-painted acorn or two and you are ready to go. Display extra Christmas ornaments in a large, clear bowl or platter. Add a home-made spray-painted acorn or two and you are all set.

l Less is more. Rather than decorating every square centimetre of your home in lots of red and green accessories, focus your decorating energy in one room or one area. You'll spend less money on useless things if you prioritise and you will make a more dramatic impact if you aren't overwhelming people's eyeballs with Christmas kitsch overload.

l Keep it all in perspective and be festive from the heart. Will buying a Father Christmas apron really make you feel more festive when you could be spending that money on a family member's present or giving it to the needy?

Why drop limited cash on something that's going to be stuffed in a cardboard box a few weeks from now anyway?

We've heard it all before, but it's worth repeating again and again: no matter how many Christmas lights or plastic reindeer models you own, true holiday cheer is something that ultimately comes from within.

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