14 Easy Ways to Decorate for Christmas Last-Minute

Christmas garland on staircase


Magical is one way to describe the holiday season, but so is frenzied. Though it may be dubbed "the most wonderful time of the year" there is a lot to remember, including breaking out the festive decor.

After valiant efforts were spent shopping for all the best gifts to meet shipping times and successfully planning out holiday gatherings, it's understandable if getting the decorations up fell to the bottom of your list.

But don't stress—there are plenty of simple ways you can decorate for Christmas, even if time is no longer on your side.

  • 01 of 14

    Throw in a Sprig or Two

    Sprigs of evergreen around a room


    Hauling a tree back home or setting up a faux evergreen is time-intensive. If your schedule is filled to the brim, don't sweat—a full-blown tree isn't essential for a lovely Christmas effect around your space. Grab a few evergreen sprigs and nestle them into frames, place them in vases, and wrap them around mirrors for a boost of holiday cheer.

  • 02 of 14

    Break Out the (Sophisticated) Paper Snowflakes

    Bed with garland and snowflakes


    Paper snowflakes bring out the nostalgia for many around Christmastime. But rather than relying on the 2D fold and cut versions from childhood, there are plenty of more in-depth tutorials that'll lead to 3D objects you can artfully hang on the wall. And putting several together quickly creates a statement piece in no time at all.

  • 03 of 14

    Rethink Your Wreath

    Wreath on table


    Wreaths are stunning hung up on doors and cupboards, but they also double as the perfect table centerpiece. Leave one as-is, or add a large candle for a glowing attention-grabbing bit of decor. It provides the greenery that's traditionally expected around Christmastime and shows it off in a fresh (and easy-to-do) way.

  • 04 of 14

    String Up a Garland

    Green garland on stairs


    Quicker than setting up a tree but just as stunning is an evergreen garland. The fluid shape of the branches can be twisted and draped along a banister or over the frame of a door. Evergreen needles and foliage are gorgeous all on their own, but if you have a little extra time, adding ornaments, lights, or decorative pinecones can zhuzh it up even more.

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  • 05 of 14

    Focus on the Mantel

    Mantel with stockings


    The quintessential Christmas spot in any home is the mantel. It's where stockings get their time to shine, the place where logs crackle beneath, and the location Santa shows up with gifts in tow. Decorators who have a mantel and are in a time crunch should funnel decor and attention in this area for the most impact.

  • 06 of 14

    Make Tiny Vignettes

    Shelf with Christmas decor


    Infusing the holiday spirit into every room of your home may sound impossible in a last-minute dash. Fortunately, it's not! With a few vignettes, you can make every space—from the bathroom to the guest bedroom—have stylish hints of Christmas. Use branches or small figurines to create small scenes in those often forgotten corners.

  • 07 of 14

    Light It Up

    Christmas tree with lights


    No ornaments? No problem. A simple set of lights on a Christmas tree can still look polished and complete. Focus on spreading them out evenly so that your decorated evergreen looks intentionally minimal. For extra atmosphere, luminous lights on a tree are great when complemented with candles and mood lighting on cozy nights indoors.

  • 08 of 14

    Deck the Shelves

    Christmas themed shelves


    Bookshelves, or any kind of shelf really, are the perfect blank canvas for adding Christmas decor. Remove some of your year-round staples and replace them with glass trees, baubles, lights, garlands, and small holiday sculptures. It's an instant way to make space for decorations when there's no time to do much else, plus it'll look like you've spent hours curating it (even if it only takes you 20 minutes).

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  • 09 of 14

    Opt for Miniatures

    Kitchen cupboards with wreaths


    Christmas decorating is a piece of cake when you downsize. Rather than putting up another full-size tree in different rooms or assembling large wreaths, scope out mini versions that you can hang from cabinets or place in corners. It makes any room look as if it popped out of a cozy Hallmark Christmas movie without a time-zapping setup period.

  • 10 of 14

    Reconsider Your Color Palette

    Winter decor in living room


    Christmas decorations don't just start and stop at red and green. Consider other wintery palettes, like mauves, blues, browns, and textures that will remind guests of cozy cabins or snow-laden forests (think: a bowl of pinecones or vase of dyed botanicals). You can incorporate these all around the room, whether it's on top of a coffee table or sitting on a mantel.

  • 11 of 14

    Don't Forget the Bedroom

    Bedroom with Christmas decor


    Common gathering spaces, like living and dining rooms, tend to get the most Christmas interior decorating love, but don't forget about the bedroom. You can pull the holiday cheer from your entryway buffet all the way to your bedside table with the right items. Paper stars and snowflakes are always fun, while little figurines and vases of festive branches will instantly turn your sleeping quarters into a winter wonderland.

  • 12 of 14

    Turn Up the Cozy Factor

    Cozy upstairs room


    Even without an abundance of Christmas-themed decorations, you can still transform a room into a wintery paradise. Buttery soft blankets, sweater-like textiles, plump pillows, and low lighting all work together to make a cohesive space that's fit for napping after holiday dinners or watching snowflakes fall with a cup of cocoa.

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  • 13 of 14

    Get Creative Outside

    Lantern with snow around it


    Christmas is one time of year where your interior and exterior game are both important to really feel the holiday cheer. That being said, blow-up snowglobes and rooftop light-up reindeers aren't required. For a tight turnaround, spruce up what's already lining your walkways and porch. You can easily refresh hurricane lanterns, outdoor lighting, and railings with ornaments, greenery, and lights.

  • 14 of 14

    Swap Out Your Traditional Bouquet

    Christmas inspired floral arrangement


    Flowers are an instant fix in many design dilemmas, and a last-minute Christmas decor session is no different. Rather than opting for a floral bouquet, try an arrangement that consists of greenery, pinecones, grasses, and painted foliage. It'll serve as an eye-catching centerpiece that's ready to go in the blink of an eye.