I’m Alexandra. An American girl living in Dublin, Ireland. I honestly document my adventures in travel, food, beauty, and expat life on a budget.

Cheap & Cheerful Christmas Decorating

Cheap & Cheerful Christmas Decorating

Candid Alexandra in a bauble

I’ve only ever written one other ‘interiors’ post and I have never even shared it. Interior decorating, as much as I wish it was, is just not one of my strong points. Add in the fact that for the last few years my living situation was a bit up in the air, I never really decorated anywhere properly as I didn’t know how long I might be there or if I would even be allowed to remain in the country.

When I first arrived in Ireland, I stayed in student accommodation. Once I completed my degree, I moved into an apartment with the two most awful roommates I have ever had. Coming from someone who has had over 10 roommates I can confidently say that these roommates were by far the worst. Enough was enough and once the lease was coming to an end I moved in with my boyfriend. Only when we moved in together did I finally felt like I had a home in Ireland, everywhere else before had just been where I lived.  I say all of this because it can be hard to make someone feel cosy when you know you won’t be there long, or you absolutely hate where you are.

P and I signed the lease on our apartment on 19 December 2016 so our first Christmas there was a happy one but there were no decorations. I know, I know, decorations don’t matter but I LOVE Christmas. Last Christmas was our first proper Christmas in the apartment, so I wanted to decorate as much as I could to really make the season special. My mom always made a huge deal of it and when I own a home I will be investing in a truckload of decorations! But for now, in our tiny apartment with limited storage I am only buying things that I can use for a few years, don’t take up too much room and most importantly, that don’t cost an arm and a leg. 


Christmas Tree

I grew up with a fake tree and didn’t want the maintenance of a real tree once it came time to get my own. P thought I was crazy when I asked him to start looking for a Christmas tree on Adverts (basically the Irish version of Craig’s List) in April. I knew if we waited until autumn people would jack the prices of their used trees up and I was not having that! For only €10 we got our tree. A couple of the pegs that go into the stand are a little crooked, but you can’t tell once they’re positioned in and covered in lights and ornaments. If you aren’t too picky and aren’t looking to spend a lot, a second-hand tree is an option to consider.


IKEA baubles

I love that my parents tree has ornaments collected over the years. They have ones I made growing up, different ones that were won or gifted, and my favourite, the antique ornaments brought over from Germany by my dad’s side of the family.  I would love to have a tree like that in the future, but it takes a while to build up such a collection! As I don’t have this collection yet I knew that some basic ornaments (or baubles as they call them in Ireland!) would suffice.  I went to IKEA and bought two boxes of ornaments that had a few different sizes and colours. The tree might not have much character this way, but it does look pretty and is cost effective! You can save the ornaments for the future too to fill in gaps in the tree between all the collected memories. IKEA doesn’t have the same exact ones that I got last year but they do have a good selection in red and gold or silver.

Personal baubles


Lights are lights and really this comes down to your own preference. I think that rainbow colour light strands are tacky, so I knew I would be getting white lights. My mom was always so particular about weaving the lights into the tree and not just throwing them on the branches. It was soooo annoying growing up waiting for her to string the lights because all I wanted to do was put on the ornaments! I now know why she did it though – it makes all the difference in the appearance of the tree! My tree is about 5 foot and I totally disregarded what the information on the box says in terms of boxes needed for the height of the tree. I thought one box would do me and ended up having to go back to the store for a second one. Always buy the extra box even if you don’t think you need it. If you don’t end up using it on your tree you can use it somewhere else for decoration or return them.

Lights and baubles on Christmas tree


Some people hate knick-knacks, but I think they add character! I don’t have too many because they do tend to take up space but even adding a few bits and bobs around the house really help make it feel homey and get me excited for the approaching holiday season. A few of my favourites that I picked up last year are my white sheepskin rug, decorative candles, and a coffee table tray (similar here and here). I got the rug from IKEA and use it throughout the year for decoration on a chair in our bedroom and of course for photos. I also picked a few candles up at our local IKEA. IKEA also do great tealight candles and tealight candle holders for cheap. The great thing about the candles and candle holders is you can use them year round! They usually have candles with holidays scents (the red berries smell divine) or festive designs on the outside. Dunnes Stores had some gorgeous scents in their candle selection last year too. The coffee table tray was picked up in Tiger – another great place to pick up affordable holiday décor. The tray was around €1 but will be used for many Christmases to come! The tray isn’t much, but the festive design adds a little something extra to our sitting room space.

Christmas decorations around the home

My favourite Christmas movie to watch during the holiday season, although let’s be real, I would watch it all year, is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I was wanting to watch it in October, but P said to save it until after Thanksgiving at least! We will be watching this plenty throughout the month of December in our house and with my parents when we spend Christmas in Nashville. I always laugh at the dickie that cousin Eddie wears! My mom even texted me recently when she was watching it and that part came on because she knows I love it so much.

Thanks so much for stopping by today! I hope this helps if you’re in a similar living situation, and on a budget! I have loved sharing so much holiday content with y’all over this month. Hopefully y’all liked it too and maybe it helped you get into the holiday mood! If you missed any of the gift guides, I’ll link them down below. You’re going to need some gifts to put underneath that tree so why not have a look?

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for Mom

Holiday Gift Guide: Practical Gifts

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for Him

Holiday Gift Guide: Secret Santa

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for Baby

Holiday Gift Guide: Nieces & Nephews

Holiday Gift Guide: For Your Girlfriends

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Jetsetter

Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

This post contains affiliate links, so I may make a commission off any purchases you make through the link.

How to Decorate A (Fake) Christmas Tree

How to Decorate A (Fake) Christmas Tree

Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers