How To Elevate Your Small Apartment For the Holidays

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There’s no better way to kick off the most wonderful time of the year than breaking out the decorations and making your home feel festive. As a tenant, you may have visions of voluminous trees, infinite garlands and collections of nutcrackers to fill your space, but that may not be realistic if you live in a small apartment with limited room.

Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you can’t have that festive apartment you’ve always dreamed of. We’ve put together a list of small apartment Christmas decor and hosting tips that won’t impact your lease agreement so you can make sure the Christmas spirit is reverberating from every inch of your home — without losing valued storage and socializing space needed for the holidays.

How To Do Christmas in a Small Space

To put your rental space to good use this season, check out these small apartment Christmas decor hacks and hosting tips so your place will be the festive holiday haven you’ve been dreaming of.

1. Stick to a Theme

Whether your home has an eclectic style or is all about the neutral farmhouse look, you should make sure your Christmas decor matches that same theme. This way, your decor won’t look unnecessary or out of place.

2. Opt for a Mini Christmas Tree

Christmas trees are the star of the show when it comes to decorating for Christmas, but it can be a pain if there’s no space to put them. Sometimes, regular-sized trees tend to block walkways or TVs, which makes a small space feel even more cramped.

If that’s the case, there’s no shame in opting for a mini-sized Christmas tree. To make it as festive as any other tree, place it on a small table to make it feel taller and decorate it with lights and ornaments.

3. Add Lights Everywhere

Cozy string or fairy lights add so much holiday spirit without taking up precious space. From stringing around the ceiling to hanging over your curtains, there are so many unique places you can add lights that will look festive and stylish for a no-fuss decoration. If you want to make the outside of your unit festive, make sure you check with your landlord that lights can be strung on balconies or outside your unit door.

4. Deck Out Your Door

If you have a more minimalist style in mind for the holidays, decking out your door is a perfect way to strike a simple-yet-festive note. There are so many different ways you can decorate your door for the holidays and they’re all small-space-friendly. Go for wreaths and bows for a more traditional look, or get creative and turn your door into Frosty the Snowman with a simple DIY project.

5. Hang Snowflakes From the Ceiling

printable snowflakes to hang in apartment

If your apartment lacks width, reach its highest potential by capitalizing on the height of your apartment. Try hanging these printable snowflakes from your ceiling using fishing line and tape. You can leave them white for a simple and clean look or color them for a unique and fun new Christmas tradition.

download printable snowflake template

6. Show the Sweets

Indulge your sweet tooth by displaying candies and gingerbread for a delectable Christmas decoration. This is a sweet and simple way to decorate your space without taking up too much room. Try hanging candy canes from the tree or leave out a festive bowl full of your favorite holiday-themed candies.

7. Incorporate Festive Scents

With the holiday season often tied to precious memories and traditions, incorporate those memory-evoking festive scents into your space. Set the mood with pine and cinnamon candles or go for a natural air freshener, like a simmer pot filled with your favorite seasonal ingredients.

8. Make a Wall Tree

Whether you have limited space, frisky felines who love climbing, or a tight Christmas budget, opt for a wall tree instead of the traditional evergreen. Wall trees are pieces of decor that resemble a Christmas tree and hang on the wall. You can find a store-bought version or, if you’re crafty, DIY one that’s perfectly tailored to your space!

9. Go for a Light Color Scheme

The traditional colors of Christmas are usually rich reds and greens, which can make a small space feel darker and possibly more cramped. To make your space feel bigger and brighter, go for a light color scheme like whites, creams, and gold. Incorporate traditional colors as accents to create that Christmas vibe.

10. Frame Funny Signs

printable Christmas wall decorations framed on a wall

For an easy and budget-friendly Christmas decoration, hang a few fun and cheery holiday signs around your home. You can buy festive frames or use ones you already have to display in every room of your apartment. Try these funny holiday signs to make a blank wall stand out and make your guests chuckle.

download printable holiday drink labels

11. Rearrange Existing Furniture

This time of year the living room becomes heavily used and heavily trafficked with family, friends, pets and presents. You’ll probably need to find new homes in different rooms for existing furniture to make room for a Christmas tree or extra seating. Don’t be afraid to rearrange the furniture to give more room for your holiday decor or make wider walkways for visits to the kitchen for seconds.

12. Swap Out Your Fabrics

A great way to incorporate the Christmas spirit into your home is by swapping out different fabrics with holiday-themed ones. This can include throw pillow covers, throw blankets, dish towels and tablecloths. These can also be easily stored in vacuum storage bags which take up very little space.

13. Add Simple Elements to Shelves

To avoid a cramped space, stay clear of any bulky decorations that clutter the floor or take up an entire corner of your home. Instead, choose simple elements to decorate your shelves with such as mini Christmas trees, snow globes or even Santa himself! 

14. Deck Out Your Mantel

A cozy fireplace is the perfect scene for Christmas morning, which is why going all out on your fireplace mantel is a must. Use garlands, lights, candles and stockings for a more traditional look or make your mantel a snowy winter wonderland using snow fluff, white trees and cute snowmen. 

15. Spruce Up Your Bar Cart

printable holiday beverage labels

You can make just about anything festive in your apartment — including the bar cart! Break out the holiday liqueurs and spirits for festive adult parties, or spruce up your coffee bar with limited-edition add-ins like peppermint. To help make your drinks even more merry, use these holiday drink labels to make your bar cart the star of the show.

download holiday wine and coffee tags

16. Add Holiday Plants

Having indoor plants is always a great way to spruce up your apartment and make it feel more lively. Visit your local garden shop and pick up a few festive poinsettias or a Christmas cactus to enjoy all winter long. From your bedside table to your apartment’s entrance, you can get creative and add these plants just about anywhere. (Just make sure your new greenery isn’t toxic to your pets.)

17. Invest in TV Tables for Hosting Meals

If you’ve been chosen to host Christmas this year or want to throw a holiday gathering with your friends and family, you’ll most likely need more than just a small dining set or bar stools to seat everyone for meals. Invest in foldable TV tables so you can utilize your couch as an additional area for dinner time.

18. Get Creative With Your Stockings

Stockings are classic Christmas decorations and a tradition that shouldn’t be forgotten. If your fireplace mantel is too small to cater to all of your stockings and mantel decor, get creative and use a curtain rod to save some space. 

Instead of multiple stocking holders on your mantel, hang the rod with just two stocking holders and wire. If you don’t have a fireplace mantel, you can use Command strips to hang your stocking on a blank wall.

19. Fill Your Space With Christmas Carols

Nothing says Christmastime more than the endless loop of Christmas songs. Since Christmas music only comes around once a year, it’s full of feelings of happiness and nostalgia, which is sure to get everyone in the Christmas spirit. Make a playlist full of your favorite Christmas songs and have it play in the background all holiday season long.

20. Play Small Space-Friendly Games

printable holiday game

When hosting a gathering at your place, there’s nothing like combining all the delicious food and drinks with a fun game to play with your loved ones. In a small space, you’ll need a game that won’t be too active, take up too much space, or potentially annoy the neighbors. A great option is this Christmas Family-Friendly Feud Game.

How To Play:

Each game begins with a face-off round. The host chooses a question card and invites a player from each team up to try and answer the highest-ranked response to the survey question. If the player who buzzed first gets the highest-ranked response on the list, their team can choose to play or pass the question.

If the player who buzzed in first doesn’t get the highest-ranked answer, the competitor gets a chance to answer and steal control. The player with the highest-ranked answer chooses to play the question or pass.

Players on the controlling team take turns guessing an answer. Each player has five seconds to answer and there is no help from their team members. If the team can guess all of the answers on the board, they win the round and all 100 points.

If they fail to answer or give an incorrect answer, they get a strike. Three strikes and the team loses control of the board and the play passes to the opposing team. The opposing team can confer and has one chance to come up with one of the remaining responses. If they guess correctly, they win all the points revealed so far. If they fail, the other team gets the points.

The team with the most points wins the game!

download printable holiday game

How To Store Christmas Decorations in a Small Apartment

Small apartment living calls for good small space organizing skills, especially around the holidays when you have to store all your decorations and ornaments for another year. Check out these tips on how to store your Christmas decor in a small place so next year’s decorating goes smoothly.

Gather Your Storage Materials

To start, gather all the materials you’ll need. A few good apartment-friendly storage options and packing materials include:

  • Clear plastic boxes
  • Shoeboxes 
  • Zip-top bags
  • Vacuum seal bags
  • Tissue paper
  • Bubble wrap
  • Permanent markers
  • Labels

If you have precious ornaments, you may want to invest in archival storage boxes for those as well. 

Get Organized

Try to limit your decorations to a few boxes that can be stored in a closet and won’t take up too much space. A great tip is to label a “first box” and store all the items you’ll need first for decorating the next year. This could include your tree stand, wrapping paper, holiday cards and whatever else you usually like to start with.

Store Your Items Efficiently

When it’s time to store your items, you probably don’t want to stuff a bunch of random items in a box that’ll be stuck together for a year. You should make sure you store each item efficiently.

Ornaments: 

  • Use plastic or archival boxes with individual compartments.
  • Sort ornaments by size and durability.
  • Wrap glass in tissue paper or bubble wrap.
  • Store all ornaments in one large plastic storage box.

Lights: 

  • Wind each strand carefully and place it in its own large shoebox or zip-top bag.
  • Put all the bags or boxes of lights into one larger storage box.

Holiday Fabrics:

  • Neatly fold throw pillow covers, throw blankets, tree skirts, table cloths, and other fabrics to avoid wrinkles.
  • Place the fabrics in a large vacuum seal bag.
  • Seal the bag and vacuum the air out so that it’s flat and can be easily stored.

Wreaths: 

  • Wrap your wreaths in bubble wrap.
  • Place in a box and store with its hanger to avoid losing it.

Decorating and hosting for the holidays can be a challenge in a small apartment, but it is completely doable with the right tactics and Christmas spirit. These small apartment Christmas decor tips and hosting hacks will ensure your apartment is jolly and festive while staying damage-free and compliant with your lease agreement. As a landlord, don’t forget to check out these tips on how to encourage your tenants to be sustainable during the holiday season! 

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