DIY Holiday Apartment Decorating: Just in Time for the Holidays

Get in the holiday spirit and decorate your apartment this year without the fear of losing your security deposit at the end of your lease and without having to break the bank. Are you going to host Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner this year? You can’t have your friends and family over without sprucing up the place. It’s worth reading over your lease agreement before investing in your decorations. Landlords will stipulate whether you can hang things on the wall or the ceiling. If there is nothing in the lease agreement, you may want to talk to your rental agent or the landlord.

You will be surprised how many things will affect your security deposit – from marks or holes in the walls to glitter stuck in the carpet. Even if you are planning on staying for a while, it’s not worth losing money. Here is a list of ways to decorate that are within a reasonable budget and won’t cause any damage to your rental.

Exterior Decorations

The first thing you have to do is check if your complex has any rules or restrictions regarding outdoor decorations or displays. Outdoor decorations are a great way to set the holiday spirit before your guests even set foot inside your apartment.

Front Door

Pointsetta Wreath on White Door

A holiday-themed welcome mat or a poinsettia next to the door sets the scene nicely. If you are on a tight budget, cover your entire door in wrapping paper and add a bow or some ribbon around your door handle for an extra touch.

You could go with the classic wreath but make sure it doesn’t have metal parts and go for wreaths that have natural materials as you don’t want to scratch your door. If you want evergreen boughs, but cleaning needles up is a hassle for you, go with an artificial wreath and have the benefit of reusing them every year.

You also want to make sure it doesn’t include lights or bulbs that have electric motors or wiring. You don’t want to damage the door if the decorations overheat, as this can leave burn marks or warp the paint. Use over the door hangers instead of nails, staples, or double-sided tape to hang the wreath and make sure the weight is evenly distributed so that your door doesn’t get scratched.


Red Velvet Christmas Bows for Decoration

Balconies or patios are great spaces to spread some Christmas cheer, but again – make sure your complex doesn’t have rules against it. You don’t want to hang decorations that could potentially fall and hurt someone or damage property. You can place air-blown Christmas inflatables on your balcony; you have a wide variety of choices from snowmen, candy canes, reindeer, elves, and other inflatables. Don’t put too many inflatables as it can take away from the effect you want by overcrowding your space.

Trimming your banister with outdoor red velvet bows is another affordable way to add some holiday flourish. Or you can splash out with a holographic bow. There are a wide variety of cute Christmas signs and other decoys you can get for a reasonable price.


Christmas lights set up within an apartment

A sure-fire way to make your apartment festive is stringing lights on the railings or banisters of your balcony or patio, or on the potted plants, if you have them. If you are going to string lights outside, you need to make sure that they are labeled “outdoor only.” LED lights are the best choice due to their durability and cost efficiency.

Another helpful tip is to make sure you have an electrical outlet first. If not, you will need to run an extension cord; make sure you use extension cords that are for outdoor use. Carefully consider whether you want to leave the door or window ajar, as well, as the extension cord will have to get inside somehow. The best way to hang outdoor lights without drilling holes or using nails are cleanable adhesive-backed hooks. Pin them onto a flat service and voila!


Decorating an apartment on a limited budget is fairly easy these days. There are plenty of creative ideas that are affordable and fun. Plus, you have to think of ways to decorate without leaving any marks or holes or stains.

Creative Alternatives

Christmas Ornaments and Decorations in a Glass Vase

Hammering nails or driving screws into walls is always a big no-no when it comes to rentals. Velcro strips, sticky putty, and double-sided tape are easily removable, but some of that stuff will still leave marks. Make use of what you have instead. Hang decorations from doors, light fixtures, or curtain poles by threading ribbon through them. Some rentals come with artwork already hanging on the walls, so you could do a quick swap.

Another creative way to decorate without damaging walls is to get yourself a nice sized board and prop it up against the wall. You can find cheap scrap pieces of wood or chipboards at your hardware store. Then you can hang anything you want to the board – stockings, wreaths, Christmas signs, etc. Or you can paint the board in Christmas colors or use an outline and paint a snowman or Santa Claus. The options are endless and affordable.

I’m sure you have a box of old decorations and if you are not opting for a tree, you can fill them up in a large glass vase. Or you could simply throw down a red tablecloth and or place some poinsettias on the dining room table.

Christmas Tree

Small Christmas tree in a white apartment

The big question with trees: fake or real? If you are living in an apartment, we strongly suggest getting a fake one. These days they look completely real, and, as a bonus, they are affordable. Dragging a real tree through the hallway and then through your apartment can leave a real mess – not to mention the scratches that it could leave behind. Plus, it’s a major fire hazard and artificial trees are coated with a fire retardant layer. Even if you don’t want to spend the money on a fake tree and you are short on space, you can always decorate a houseplant!

If you are going to use a natural Christmas tree you must consider the size, of course. Take time to measure the ceiling and doorway before you make your purchase. You are going to need to weigh it down with a sturdy base, so it won’t fall over and damage your floor. Speaking of floors, real trees shed needles and can damage your carpet or wooden floors.

Add a durable tree skirt to keep the sap from staining your hardwood floor or carpet. If you have a hardwood floor you need to use a microfiber mop and vacuum daily. Keep your tree well-hydrated and you’ll have less needle loss.

There are plenty of ways to decorate your apartment home this Christmas without breaking your budget or breaking the terms of your lease agreement.

On behalf of our entire staff….