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30 Brilliant Holiday Decorating Tricks for Small Spaces

Eat, drink, and bedeck with flair.

christmas decorations gold green tree
Maryna TerletskaGetty Images

’Tis the season for bringing out the holiday decor. Cue the voluminous trees and infinite garlands, festive mantel ensembles and elaborate tablescape layouts—you’re ready to deck those halls! OK, in your case, rooms—that is, just the one room. Decorating a small living space during the holidays can put a damper on your dreams of becoming the next Mariah Carey. But compromising on square footage doesn’t have to mean you’re short on holiday flair—or even holiday extravagance, for that matter. “It doesn’t take a lot of stuff to make your home merry and bright,” says small space expert Melanie Gnau. “Something as simple as a wreath and a few boughs of holly can turn your small space into a festive spot for entertaining.”

If you have visions of transforming your 250-square-foot apartment into Santa’s villa but would still like access to seating that doesn’t involve a pine needle face massage, we’ve compiled 30 tips to show you that size doesn’t equate to pizzazz. Read on for brilliant holiday hacks to add some sparkle to your small space, from ceiling centerpieces to alternative mantels.

a woman hangs a holiday garland across a doorway
Courtesy Jess Morris
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Entryway Eaves

You might not have a yard or even a bedroom (we see you, studio dwellers)—but everybody has a doorway. Jess Morris’s Scandinavian-inspired doorway, a dramatic enveloping of handmade garlands, offers all the holiday magic we need. “Less is more in creating a beautiful space in small quarters,” says Morris. “I like to use one main feature piece or material and add a few accents in.” We can almost smell the fresh pine needles from here.

beautiful christmas decor of residential white room
Anastasiia KrivenokGetty Images
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Try a Midsize Tree

This might go against everything you’ve been told, but hear us out on this: While small trees leave more room for walking around, tiny trees lack the bravado of a large tree. So rather than placing a pokey little Charlie Brown inspiration in your four-person sitting room, go ahead and opt for a midsize tree that still offers that dramatic moment that will have you vocalizing “How lovely are thy branches!”

christmas decorations
Kylie Fitts
3 of 30
Improvise a Mantel

Missing a mantle? While Santa has perfected the fire escape entrance into your apartment (fear not, city kids), he’s also an expert stocking detector—so be inventive with your stocking placement.

Consider this simple improvisation by Havenly vice president of creative and design Shelby Girard. With minimalist stockings, a stunning garland, and a simple string of lights, this corner is all decked out for old Saint Nick. Cookies and milk considered.

new york apartment christmas decoration
Carly Fuller
4 of 30
A Garland Garnish

Your kitchen island doesn’t have to be an eight-seater to make an impact. Take a cue from My NYC Apartment’s Carly Fuller, whose minimal garland arrangement is just the statement piece for this festive 450-square-foot apartment in New York City. We’ll still be rocking this season, whether or not it’s around a tree!

christmas centerpiece
The Jungalow
5 of 30
Take Advantage of Vertical Space

As you gear up for the big day of eating and gifting (and more eating), think beyond the traditional table centerpiece by hanging ornaments and pendants from the ceiling, like this stunning setup from The Jungalow. Not only does this combination of oranges, garland, and twinkle lights add dimension, it also comes at no cost to foot traffic space. Feast mode: on.

nautical diy christmas decorations life preserver wreath
David A. Land
6 of 30
Keep It Light and Bright

Rule number one of small space decorating dictates that lighter colors make a room feel more spacious. And this delightful nautical vignette offers many lessons to be learned in the neutral-toned department. Cream-colored yarn stockings? Check. Festive chalky holiday “wreath”? Check. Ivory-colored candles? Check.

young woman making a christmas wreath
AleksandarNakicGetty Images
7 of 30
Add a Touch of Twinkle

’Tis the season to sparkle! Christmas lights are the ultimate mood lighting, and the warm glow of this gleaming wreath will level up the festive cheer in any room. Whether your wreath is embellished with a touch of red or gold accents, or it channels neutral hues, this Christmas will be lit with the right plug-ins.

christmas staircase
Michael Wurm Jr.
8 of 30
Flaunt What You’ve Got

So the saying goes: If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Those words have never been more true than for those learning how to live large in a small space. Whether it’s a staircase, a media console, or even a floating wall shelf, add some impact in the vein of Inspired By Charm’s Michael Wurm Jr.’s dramatic garland. Styled with LED lights, a red ball garland, vintage Christmas cards, and two garlands for the “full” effect, this festive red-and-green scene will beat any bough of holly.

a green couch with a christmas tree and a mirror
Maryna TerletskaGetty Images
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Double the Decor

Mirrors are multitaskers. A tall mirror not only draws the eye upward, but it also reflects, creating the illusion of a much larger room. Hot tip: Place your tree in front of the mirror and you’ll have twice as much evergreen cheer!

winter bouquet
Meghan Klein
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Arrange a Winter Bouquet

When going glam on your petite domicile, every inch counts. Rather than struggle to make a traditional tree work in your apartment, settle for a Scandinavian woodland Christmas arrangement like this. On Jojotastic, Joanna Hawley-McBride explains how she foraged noble fir, blue ice cypress, ponderosa pine, and tallow berries—arranging it all in this faceted geometric vase. If we didn’t have a reason to hunker down indoors before, bringing the outside in will certainly give us one now!

white kitchen interior with classic christmas decor and lights
Svetlana VoroshilovaGetty Images
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Work the Decor Around Your Lifestyle

You needn’t sacrifice personality for a few square inches of space. If a tree in your kitchen comes at the cost of sink access, we’d suggest instead embellishing the nooks and crannies that won’t inhibit your ability to function. Take a cue from this festive kitchen, complete with mini red tree cones, holiday mugs, and (the dramatic touch) evergreen garlands sprinkled with decorative snowflakes and baubles. The result? A culinary wonderland with floor-to-ceiling appeal.

christmas bedroom ideas
Douglas Friedman/Lark & Linen
12 of 30
Slumber in Style

Some people dream of a white Christmas, while others dream of a beautifully designed Christmas. Mission accomplished in this cozy bedroom with a few simple accents—an above-bed wreath, tartan pillows, and a bright red blanket (linens compliments of Lark & Linen)—that require no furniture rearranging. Whether or not there’s snow beyond the window, we’re channeling all the holiday cheer tonight.

holiday decorating ideas
Hank & Hunt
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Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

If there’s one holiday vignette your guests will all gather around at a Christmas party, it’s the wine and spirits. Take inspiration from Hank and Hunt and add a little holiday flair to your favorite area in the apartment (we’d still say that if you lived in a mansion). With a few cranberry sprigs, a set of whimsical candlesticks, and a soft faux fur rug, you’ll be sure to impress your holiday guests. We’ll drink to that!

best christmas tree decoration ideas
Courtesy of Kelly Smith
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Go Bold with Color

The best way to make a small room feel festive is to go big on color. Even if your home has a relatively neutral color palette, adding a few vibrant pieces will shock your design system...in the best way possible. Kelly Smith makes the case for a pink Christmas tree, which features black, white, and gold ornaments and a matching tree stand worth showing off in any apartment, big or small.

holiday decorating ideas
Anastasiya Belik
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Dress Up the Chairs

Jazz up your everyday furniture with Christmas flair without taking up any extra space. In this festive vignette, Burnett’s Boards adds a a sweet touch to wooden dining room chairs with a small wreath and neutral ribbon.

rustic christmas decorations
Mike Garten
16 of 30
Give Your Shelves a Seasonal Makeover

If you gravitate toward monochromatic design, just a few elements can transform your home decor from “everyday” to seasonally magical. In this cheery bookcase, a lineup of wooden houses, gold reindeer, and micro trees bring a winter wonderland to a basic shelf.

holiday decor small space
Craftberry Bush
17 of 30
Go All Out with Your Mantel

During wintertime, the fireplace is the focal point of your living room. Give your mantel a holiday makeover that will catch everyone’s attention by decking it out with a garland, candles, and chic mini trees, just like in this home featured on Craftberry Bush.

tree decoration on door made of christmas cards and ribbon
Victor Schrager
18 of 30
Make Your Cards Part of Your Decor

Overwhelmed with your holiday cards? Keep clutter to a minimum by using a few of your favorites to dress up your bookshelf for the season.

small holiday decorating
Jennifer Jones
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Create an Indoor Snowstorm

When your space lacks width, you can capitalize on any height by hanging these simple card-stock snowflakes from IHeart Organizing. You also don’t need to break out the nails for these lightweight snowflakes. Just hop on a ladder and grab the tape for easy installation and removal once the holiday passes.

christmas candle holder
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Make a Candleholder

If you’re looking for the perfect opportunity to express your creativity, get crafty with a candleholder. Simply wrap your candles in garland and pine cones to create an eye-catching holiday look that’s sure to impress your guests.

small holiday decorating
Linda Braden
21 of 30
Plan Smart Kitchen Decor

As much as you’d like to cover everything in baubles, you need your kitchen counter space clear to craft holiday dishes and cocktails. Keep things tidy and instead make use of your cabinets, like this setup from It All Started with Paint. Tie ribbon to small wreaths or ornaments, and secure them to the back of your cabinets for a festive touch that won’t interfere with your day-to-day life. You can repurpose the idea for bathroom or storage cabinets throughout the house.

small holiday decorating
Cassie Freeman
22 of 30
Rethink Wreaths

While we typically think of wreaths as door or wall decorations, you can go low and use them to jazz up a side or end table. The red cranberries of this wreath from Hi Sugarplum add an unexpected dash of color to a mostly gold display.

alternative christmas tree
Jared Smith for Sugar & Cloth
23 of 30
Opt for Micro Trees

With a few clear cones and a splash of confetti (or something metallic, you do you), you have a holiday tree that requires no more than an inch of space. This über-simple craft by Sugar & Cloth can be placed on a desk, a nightstand, or even a window sill—aka, it’s the perfect space saver.

holiday decorating ideas
Freckle And Wulff
24 of 30
Hang a Half Wreath

Continue the minimalistic theme of your decor with a wreath that has just enough foliage. Freckle And Wulff created this wreath with a metal hanging ring, twine and an assortment of greenery and flowers such as eucalyptus, holly leaves, ivy, and baby’s breath.

holiday decorating ideas
These Four Walls
25 of 30
Make Your Wrapping Paper the Decor

You already have presents out, so let them double as decorations. Adding a few sprigs of festive foliage to brown paper wrapping with twine is a tasteful way to celebrate the season’s bounties indoors (and draw attention the holiday’s goodies), as proven by this approach to gift wrapping by These Four Walls.

holiday decorating ideas
Rustic Wedding Chic
26 of 30
Hang Mistletoe

Make use of those out-of-reach areas, and possibly get a holiday smooch in doing so. Rustic Wedding Chic arranged this romantic bundle from cedar, pine, holly, and, of course, mistletoe.

holiday decorating ideas
Camille Styles
27 of 30
Use Place Cards as Decor

If you don’t have room to stagger wreaths throughout your home, situate them on place settings instead. These adorable place cards by Camille Styles are created simply by tying fresh rosemary sprigs to mini grapevine wreaths.

holiday decorating ideas
The Lovely Drawer
28 of 30
Hang a Mini Tree

This sweet and rustic decoration can act as an ornament, or be a replacement for a large fir. The Lovely Drawer simply strung twigs together with copper wire to create a miniature holiday vignette — something that can be placed anywhere throughout a small space.

christmas decorations in living room
Per Magnus PerssonGetty Images
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Swap Your Everyday Decor

Instead of adding more, change what you already have. For instance, swap out your normal throw pillows for holiday-themed ones. It leaves you with the same amount of space, but with more cheer.

holiday door decor
Ballard Designs
30 of 30
Think Outside the House

Really hurting for space? One thing we all have: a door. If there isn’t room for decorations, don’t be afraid to get cheery on your front door. You’ll be welcomed by holiday charm whenever you come home, and your guests (and neighbors) will never doubt your dedication to the season. We love Small Measure’s snowflake door for inspiration.

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