Deck your tiny halls in your unique style! Ideas and tips for how to make your small space merry and bright for the holidays.

Holidays in small spaces

If you have a small space like mine, decorating for the holidays can prove challenging. Trees are huge, garlands can be heavy, and space is already at a premium. We can still make our small spaces things festive, though. It just takes a little thought.

Deck Your (Tiny) Halls

We need a little light this year

This year, especially, I think we need a little light. I don’t know about you, but news about the new variant made me want to crawl under the covers and hide. I have friends who haven’t seen their families in far too long whose holiday plans have either gotten scrapped or remain uncertain because of this plague. While my own plans remain intact, I find myself feeling a bit low.

Treasured holiday traditions come from hard times

If you think about it, a lot of our most treasured holiday songs and movies come from difficult times. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” speaks of muddling through, and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” makes us tear up in the best years. And, my unpopular opinion is that It’s a Wonderful Life is one of the most heartbreaking movies ever made (which is why it resonates so strongly, I think). In dark times, we humans create light. And that’s what I decided to do.

Deck the (Tiny) Halls! Small Space Holiday Décor
Creating a focal point helps with small-space holiday decorating

Decking my tiny halls

On Monday, I put on my fireplace video, cued up A Charlie Brown Christmas, and set about decking my tiny halls. Unlike other years, I didn’t have to struggle to find my holiday stuff, as I’d just decluttered my closet! I could even find replacement batteries! I used the extra time to follow my friend’s lead and dried orange slices in the oven for a homemade touch.

What did you grow up with?

I tend to think that we develop a lot of our style from how we grew up (even if it’s the exact opposite). My holiday style reflects traditions I grew up with, but I’ve added my own spin on things. What’s about you?

Holidays growing up featured colored lights, ornaments made by my sister and me (my Play Doh artistry lives on some forty-five years later, and my red and green wooden beads with Styrofoam will outlast us all. We shall not mention my glue art). My sister leaned toward the spiritual, creating the holy spirit (literally cutting holes in cloth) and the baby Jesus (swaddled cloth). Somehow the combination of our early childhood artistry and ornaments collected over a lifetime make for a beautiful tree. I honestly think it might be magic.

Every little corner of the living room had some treat to behold. Gingerbread people hang from the piano and the stairs. Garland. A little of this and a little of that.

My holidays in small spaces

In my own home, I’ve kept up the color and knickknacks, but have things a bit more contained. I don’t have a tree, as I tend to go to my parents’ house for the day itself (except for last year. Fingers crossed for this year). However, I used to have a little ornament tree that I’d put up on a table. Here, though, I don’t really have room for that, as the table is my side table next to my couch. So, I’ve taken a different approach here to getting things festive.

Tip

Trees can be a hassle in small spaces. You don’t necessarily need one. You could get a few pine branches for the scent and to add a bit of green, or maybe even a wreath.

Small Spaces for the Holidays
Santa Pez and the nesting dolls (sounds like a name for a band)

Small Spaces for the Holidays

Here are some ideas for how to make your small space merry and bright for the holidays.

Create a focal point

I’m fortunate in that I have a rather obvious spot in my living room to decorate for the holidays. My early 20th century (sadly non-working) fireplace and mantle scream Father Christmas, even in July. I hang stockings for Ollie and me, add a garland I picked up at a craft store ages ago, decorate that and the fireplace with some vintage ornaments, and then scatter some fairy lights and holiday knickknacks and call it festive.

I scattered little strands of fairy lights around the living room to bring everything together, and my goodness, everything looked so cozy that I stayed up past my bedtime just enjoying it.

Your focal point might be a window, or a corner of your apartment. Someplace that looks like it could get a little festive. You don’t need to buy a lot. A strand of lights, a couple of ornaments (I love vintage ones). Maybe a few knickknacks. Tinsel?

Tip

Don’t have easy ways to hang decorations? Get creative. My mantle does not have any hooks, and I would not dream of adding them. I used Command Strips and some decorative white clothespins to hang the stockings and garland.

Add a little color

For me, Christmas is colored lights

I do love a classy holiday display with white lights—they look so serene and peaceful. In other people’s homes, that is. Me, merry and bright means merry and bright colors.

In my last apartment, I had bay windows with sill connecting all of them that wide enough to use as a shelf. For the holidays, I would scatter a string of big vintage colorful Christmas lights along the sill for instant cheer.

The tale of a stranded strand of lights

That strand just didn’t fit in the living room, and the outlet situation isn’t ideal for something else to plug in. Nonetheless, I have missed those big colorful bulbs. I took the strand into the kitchen, determined to find a way to make them work. I tried draping them on my dishes shelf and quickly realized that this would end in tears and possibly a hospital visit.

I then tried my dining table, but that wasn’t going to work, either.

Aha! Small space solution!

And, finally, starting to get a bit sad, I looked at my cabinets. I already have a long, corded lamp draped over them and hanging by the oven  so that I can see when I’m cooking without the glaring overhead light. What if I draped the lights up there, too?

It was not easy. My step stool only gets my short self up so high, and the lightbulbs are not that durable, so it took a little doing to get the string situated. I probably should have filmed it for the bloopers.

And, finally, starting to get a bit sad, I looked at my cabinets. I already have a long, corded lamp draped over them and hanging by the oven  so that I can see when I’m cooking without the glaring overhead light. What if I draped the lights up there, too?

It was not easy. My step stool only gets my short self up so high, and the lightbulbs are not that durable, so it took a little doing to get the string situated. I probably should have filmed it for the bloopers.

Oh, was it worth it, though! The warm glow of the colored lights once again graced my home. It was almost enough to make me belt out “Let It Snow!” and mean it. Almost.

Tip

Don’t have outlets nearby? Get LED lights that run on batteries. My mantlepiece lights all run on batteries, as there’s nary an outlet in sight.

As I mentioned, this year, inspired by my friend and half of Pinterest,  I dried oranges in my oven to make a garland. Goodness, does that ever make your house smell incredible!

I had thought to hang them on the lower part of the mantle, but that might have been a bit much.

Instead, I took a spare tension rod that I’d decided sparked enough potential joy when I cleaned out my closet to keep and made a valance. Using baker’s twine cut to different lengths, I made little ornaments out of my orange slices and hung them from the tension rod. I love it! I might dry another orange and add to it.

Tip

Drying oranges is so easy that I can’t believe I’ve never tried it. My friend sent me her recipe, but a quick check on Pinterest will get you hundreds. And baker’s twine has loads of uses. I got mine to use for photo displays. It also makes a festive ribbon for gifts (especially homemade baked goods!).

Greet your guests at the door!

For me, Santa shows up at the front door. Years and years ago, for a tacky gift party (that’s a topic for another post someday), I picked up this hand-painted Santa on velvet, á la Elvis, only to fall in love with it. I’ve had it for over twenty years, where it chases away the Christmas blues. My Pez dispenser sits on the mantle.

Small Spaces for the Holidays
I bought this for a tacky gift party and fell in love with it

Holidays in your small space

This time of year can be hard, and harder still with everything going on. It’s a small gesture, but decorating our homes casts light in the darkness and creates a little comforting coziness. What’s your holiday style? What genius tips do you have for making a small space festive for the holidays? Let me know in the comments!