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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Smart Home

5 cheap ways to decorate your house for the holidays

Decorate for the holidays creatively without breaking your budget.

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Christmas light projector.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Christmas lights are life to some, but they can be expensive. On the one hand, you want your house to look nice for the holidays. On the other, you don't want to blow your gift buying budget on lights.

Luckily, you can get your house as lit as Rudolph's nose for under $100 with minimum effort. The key is to create a lot of visual interest without hanging a bunch of individual strings of lights.

1. Light the whole house with projectors

One of my family's biggest secrets for decorating on the cheap is using projectors, such as the Star Shower Motion LaserLight or the StartasticAction Laser Projector, instead of strands of lights. One holiday light projector can cover the entire front of your home with twinkling lights, snowflakes, snowmen, reindeer or Santas for less than $50. Plus, it takes less than 10 minutes to stake a projector into the ground and plug it in. Check out this article for tips on buying a projector.

2. Use netted lights for a big impact

Netted lights can be thrown over hedges, bushes and small trees to create a big look in just minutes. You can get a box of light netting for under $10, so you can go nuts and still stay within budget.

3. Or use light curtains

Light curtains, like these fairy lights or these LED lights are another way you can make a big impact for a little money and minimal effort. Strategically hang a light curtain across the front of your porch and you have a wow factor that costs less than $25.

4. Just change a bulb ($49.99 at Amazon.com)

If you have many outdoor lights, simply change their bulbs to red and green LEDs, like the PhilipsGreen LED Bulb or the EcoSmartLED Red Bulb. Your house and yard will be covered in a festive glow and you won't have to fork out much cash.

5. Don't use Christmas lights at all

Colored, solar-powered pathway lights can give you all the shine and color of Christmas lights, but without the cost. You also don't need to worry about extension cords, overloading outlets or hanging them. Just stick them in the ground along the front of your house or down your walkway and you're all set. These by Yescom are around $50 for a pack of 24 and these by SolarEK come in packs of 12 for under $30.