Holiday Decorating Tips for Small Spaces

December 4, 2022

If you’re like most New Yorkers, you might be a little short on living space. But it’s a small price to pay to live in a city where the coolest festive window displays, sparkling Dyker Heights lights and quintessential snowfalls exude holiday spirit.

When it comes to holiday decorating in your Brooklyn home, or any small space, there are many tricks and tips to maximize your decor without cluttering your living area. Just because you might not have a lot of space, doesn’t mean you need to skimp on style or decorations. You just need to be creative.

Here are some of the best holiday decorating tips for small spaces.

Use a lighter color palette

Even if you use bold colors as accents, consider a lighter, brighter color palette when decorating a small space. Think whites, creams, ivories and muted colors rather than dark or bold. This will help make your space look and feel bigger and more airy.

Swap out everyday pieces

White hands holding brown wrapped package with red-white string above table with scattered Christmas ornaments and lights

Photo by Joshua Lam

If you keep throw pillows or a throw blanket on your couch or bed, consider swapping out a couple with holiday themed versions. Likewise, swap a standard table runner or tablecloth, and add a festive centerpiece. If you ordinarily keep fresh flowers on display, try poinsettia instead. Wrap your holiday packages with extra care or try using plain brown or white paper accented with greenery or ribbon so that the gifts can double as decorations. Gift wrap your hanging mirror, art or picture frame, or simply add a small garland. You could also replace candles for ones with a holiday scent.

Liven up your windows

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Diwali, something else, or nothing at all, you might opt for reusable static cling window stickers, which you can find for many different holidays, occasions and seasons. Speaking of windows, placing light strands, handmade paper decorations, a wreath, garland and even a few ornaments around your window frame is another space-saving design tip.

Spruce up your doors and doorways

Use any door—front, bedroom, closet or fridge—as a blank canvas for displaying holiday cards, an advent calendar, a wreath, handmade decorations, a collection of holiday-themed family photos or, for the fridge, festive magnets. And don’t forget the doorways. Whether to encourage a kiss beneath a mistletoe or simply to add a welcoming touch, you might decorate a doorway or two with mistletoe, garland, holiday lights or a few ornaments.

Treat your mantel like an art project

Christmas mantel with candles, frame, garland and stocking

Photo by Rachel Boden

Though they might be small on space, so many Brooklyn homes feature mantels or other beautiful built-ins that you can treat as an art project every December. Fill yours with garland, lights, candles, mini trees, Christmas houses, a collection of ornaments, nutcrackers, dreidels or stockings. Depending on how big or small your space is, you might even consider going overboard on the mantel instead of having a Christmas tree. And of course, the mantel is a perfect spot for a menorah.

Add edible and drinkable accents

If you have a bar cart, add some egg nog, holiday-themed bottles or liqueurs, or festive coffees, hot cocoas and teas to your display. Put some colorful holiday candies or cookies in jars that double as decorations. Or decorate and display a gingerbread house.

Pick the right sized tree

Living room window flanked by plant and Christmas tree with piano on near wall

Photo by Sven Brandsma

Even though, in Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold managed to squeeze a gigantic tree into too small of a space, it’s not necessarily the best thing to do. When you’re shopping for your Brooklyn Christmas tree, think about your room size. So many tree vendors here in NYC offer short, skinny, small and sparse trees, in addition to the taller, fuller, oversized ones. So you can pick just the right one that won’t overcrowd your room.

Add Bathroom Accents

The bathroom might not come to mind as a place for holiday decor, but adding a few touches can brighten up your space. Try a thin garland over the mirror, a decoration or mini tree on the countertop, a winter-scented candle or hand soap, or just a holiday soap dispenser.

Go garland crazy

Okay, maybe don’t go crazy with the garlands but get creative with them. Though we mentioned you can use garlands around door and window frames and on your mantel, you could also line the tops of your kitchen cabinets, weave around your bookshelves, drape over your bed frame or, if they can handle the extra weight, add flair to your light fixtures.

Sneak in your decorations

Adding a little reindeer, Christmas ornament or string lights here and there to your bookshelf displays or kitchen shelves can boost the holiday spirit in your small space.

Get crafty

From paper snowflakes and snowmen chains to hand-sewn stockings and custom wreaths, getting crafty with your decorations will help add a personal touch to your decor. Here are some holiday DIY craft ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

For more holiday decorating tips that also apply to small spaces, check out our 8 Cozy Winter Home Decor Tips and Optimizing Your Space posts.

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