23 Christmas Decorating Ideas With Thrift Store Finds

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If you like to decorate your home for Christmas, but don’t want to spend a lot of money this time of the year on new holiday decorations, put a trip to your local thrift store on your to-do list.

If you are a long time reader then you know I enjoy finding ways to decorate my house inside and out using items I already own as well as items I find at thrift shops.

Decorating Treasures await at senior living community thrift shops

Christmas decor can be found at thrift stores and consignment shops all year round and in November and December at church bazaars and rummage sales. What is great about the used items you can find is that they don’t have to be “actual Christmas decor” items or found in the Christmas shop shelfs to be useful.

There are many more items that can be easily transformed with paint, ribbon, or items from your crafting supplies that can elevate easy-to-find thrift store cast-offs into festive Christmas decor in no time at fraction of the price.


Tips For Shopping Thrift Stores For Christmas Decor


  • SHOP YEAR ROUND – Most of the items I buy to use for Christmas decor, I find all though the year at thrift shops, not just during the holiday season when the good stuff goes fast.
  • ENJOY THE THRILL OF THE HUNT – Know your taste. Keep your holiday decor style in mind when you are out thrifting. Don’t look at items only at face value. Take your time to pick up an item that has a nice shape or style and ask yourself, “What if I painted this, removed a part, or added something to it.”
  • SHOP OFTEN – Thrift stores get new merchandise on a daily basis. If you want to find deals, then find out what time of day they put new items out to sell, then be there at that time. As the saying goes… “the early bird gets the worm.”
  • KEEP A LIST – Keep a running list of items you would like to find. For instance, one year I was on the look out for all things plaid. It took some time, but eventually I found the perfect red plaid tablecloth for my Christmas dinner table for a few dollars.

23 Thrift Store Finds Turned Into Christmas Decorations

Foyer in home decorated for Christmas with silver branches, pine and felt snowflake mats.

1. Glass Christmas Tree Shaped Jars

Glass trees

I found a few vintage Libby Christmas Tree Candy Jars on Etsy, but decided to see if I could find them for a lot less by hunting for them at thrift stores. It was not hard as I found most of them in one day – at my local Habitat ReStore. They were $1 a piece.

Christmas tree shaped glass jars displayed on a buffet

With some glue and glitter on the outside of the jars they have become one of my favorite Christmas decorations that add a little sparkle that I like to see inb my house over the holidays.

You can use them as is or cover with a coat of Elmers glue, then hold it over an open cardboard box and sprinkle glitter all over it. Turn it all different ways to make sure you get glitter evenly all over the jar.  Let dry. Another idea is pour white paint in the inside of each jar and swirl it around, then pour the paint out. Let dry. The jars will look like milk glass.

Christmas Mantle Decor

2. Christmas Table Linens

Christmas-Plaid-Table-setting

Almost everything purchased at a thrift store can be cleaned or laundered, this includes table linens – cloths and napkins. Once cleaned and pressed they will be like new for only a few dollars.

3. Candle Holders

A group of brass candlesticks and white candles on mantel decorated for Christmas

Candle holders are one thing that thrift stores seem to never have a shortage. You will find them in all shapes, sizes and styles. One year I used these brass candle holders on a fireplace mantel.

White Plaid trimmed Christmas stockings hanging from a fireplace mantel.

The following Christmas, I wanted a new look and spray painted them silver. Either color, when mixed with greenery and ornaments they become holiday decor.

To add sparkle to items you plan to use to decorate look for jewelry pins like rhinestones to embellish items like the Christmas stockings you hang on your mantel for Santa to fill.

Use-what-you-have-Christmas-Decorating-ideas

This candle holder was black when I bought it. I painted it with white chalk paint to fit my Christmas decorating style. Since it isn’t actual “Christmas Decor”, I can use it all year long.

4. Faux Greenery & Wreath Forms

Holidiay-Home-Tours

If I see faux greenery, garlands and wreaths that are in good shape or a section of one is, I buy it. Even if there are ugly embellishments on it, I know I can remove them and use the greenery or even cut off the sections of it to use to accent other Christmas decor.

I made the wreath above using a wire wreath form that was only 25 cents. I simply tied sprigs of boxwood from a beaten up wreath all around it with florist wire. I wired a few jingle bells on – as Christmas would not be Christmas without a few jingle bells, right?

Easy Holiday Decorating Ideas Using Fresh Greenery from a Backyard

On this lamp, I took a few good sprigs of boxwood out of a piece of garland that had seen better days. I used florist wire to attach them with a small ball ornament to decorate the lamp.

5. Ball Shaped Ornaments

Large bowl filled with ball ornaments

You may come across a box of worn Christmas ball ornaments in a color you don’t like. Don’t let that stop you from buying them.

You can cover them with paint, glitter or do what I did, decoupage decorative strips of paper to them to make them just your style. Learn how to cover the ornaments and get the free printable French Script paper.

6. Books

Rustic Red and Plaid Christmas Living Room

Hardback books in all sizes can be painted or covered with gift wrap and used as risers for candles, vases and decorative accessories that need a little more height to look in proportion on a tablescape.

7. Large Framed Art

Garage sale bought framed art before being made into a chalkboard

Large framed faux oil paintings that have no glass can be painted and turned into a chalkboard.

White framed Christmas Chalkboard drawing ideas

Cover the art with black chalkboard spray paint. Leave the frame as is or paint it to coordinate with your holiday color scheme.

Once the chalk board paint is dry, use white chalk to draw a winter scene and place on a mantel. Get the details on how to make your own faux art turned chalkboard to decorate your home.

Dining-room-Christmas-decorating

You can draw anything related to the holidays on the thrift store framed art turned into a framed chalkboard and hang in your dining room.

8. Glass Bottles

thrift store finds to use at Christmas to decorate a home

Instead of displaying a Christmas plant on a table. Snip a few branches and place in small glass bottles or look for a fancy crystal salt shaker on a thrift store shelf that is missing its top. They are easily found for a dollar.

Christmas flowers and nuts as decoration in a kitchen

Doing so allows you to make decorative arrangements fit exactly where you want a pop of Christmas color.

9. Glass Candy Jars

Decorate with Christmas Candy

Don’t pass by a glass candy jar that has no top. You can make your own using a tuna can and paint. Learn how to make a tuna can jar top.

10. Glass Cylinder Vases

fast-and-easy-Christmas-decorating-idea-using-ornaments

Retailers like Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel sell cylinder glass vases for $35 and up depending on their size. At the thrift store you can snap one up for about $5. Use one alone or group a few together on a table. Fill with faux snow and a collection of colorful ornaments.

11. Oversize Baskets

Christmas tree with DIY basket collar around tree stand

When thrift store shopping, you just never know what you will stumble upon. A few years ago I came across a huge handled basket for $6. Learn how it became a Collar for My Christmas Tree with the removal of the handle and bottom of the basket.

12. Vintage Ornaments

Christmas Decorating with Ornaments

Colorful vintage ornaments don’t have to be hung on a Christmas tree or placed in a bowl. Try making this table top tree using them in a few minutes. Best part, making it doesn’t damage the ornaments. The trick is knitting needles! Learn how to make your own Knitting Needle Ornament Tree.

13. Decorative Frames

Christmas Card Holder you can make in a night

Empty picture frames of all sizes and shapes can be found for a few dollars a piece. Paint them, embellish with glitter and turn one into a DIY Christmas Card Holder.

Christmas mantel decorated using 5 frames of various sizes - greenery and candles.

Or buy a few and arrange them on a mantel with greenery and thrift store brass candleholders.

Picture Frame Christmas Tree Collar DIY

Small frames can be made into a Photo Christmas Tree Collar. You can personalize it in many different ways.

14. Glass Hurricanes

Outdoor-Christmas-Planter DIY

Glass candle hurricanes are easily found at most thrift stores. Place one on top of dirt in a flower planter that no longer has flowers growing over the winter. Snip some faux or real greens to make it a perfect Outdoor Christmas Candle Planter to place on your entryway or porch.

15. Mix & Match Items

How to display Christmas Ornaments

This ornament bowl was made using a green pillar style candle holder and a large beige ceramic bowl.

2 unrelated items become a Christmas ornament bowl

When placed together, painted and embellished, it becomes an impressive place to display Christmas ornaments.

16. Christmas Cards

Easy to make Christmas Decorations

Don’t pass up looking through bins and boxes that hold smaller items like stray parts, craft items and wrapping paper. You may come across something you like that can be used as Christmas decor like this card made into a festive doorknob hanger.

17. Advent Calendars

Christmas Holiday Traditions Avon Mouse Countdown Calendar

As long as they are intact, finding a collectible advent calendar for a few dollars can be used just as is.

18. Large Jars

3 large glass jars filled with fake snow and white candles in a fireplace.

Large glass jars without lids can become a place for candles – either real or battery-operated. Add snow in the bottom and tie greenery or a garland tie around the rim.

19. Classic Christmas Items

Christmas-Greenery-in-the-Kitchen-Decorating-Ideas

Many times when browsing the shelves at your local thrift store, you may come upon Christmas items that can be used just as is like this ceramic holly leaf dish. It can be used as purely decor or functional – as place by your stove to hold a wet tea bag when making a cup of tea.

20. Tins & Boxes

Creative Christmas gift wrapping ideas

Tins and boxes can be cleaned, painted and stacked and used as decor on a table top or as a creative way to give Christmas cookies to friends and family.

21. Trays

Christmas pedestal photo cube on green tray

Grouping decorative items like this photo cube on a pedestal and greenery on a tray of any shape, gives the items as a whole more impact. I found this round green metal tray for a few dollars.

red and white striped ribbon covering a star cookie cutter to make an Christmas tree ornament.

Christmas cookie cutters in classic shapes like stars, bells and wreaths can be wrapped with ribbon and turned into colorful tree ornaments.

23. Mason Jars

Christmas-gift-bag- made from a Ball-Jar

And lastly, you can even make cute Christmas Gift Totes using basic glass jars and garland ties.

This list only shows the items I have found at the thrift store and turned into Christmas decor. There are many other items that can be found and changed such as nutcrackers and reindeer figurines that can be painted to look modern, cable knit old sweaters can become throw pillow covers and a forlorn planter can become the base for a table centerpiece.

When you keep an open mind, creative ideas will pop into your head not only for Christmas decor, but coming up with gift ideas for friends and family using what you find at the thrift store.

Perhaps you may not even need to head to a thrift store to find these items, as you may already own one or more of them. Find them and use them to thier fullest Christmas decorating potential.

To find more budget-friendly holiday decor ideas, don’t miss all my Christmas decorating posts where you will find inexpensive ways to decorate your home for the holidays in grand style this year without spending too much.

Christmas thrift store decor ideas

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32 Comments

  1. This is such a fantastic post, Diane!! I love thrifting too. That is such a cute idea to wrap the books…you are genius!!

  2. We had that exact same Mrs Claus/Santa Claus mouse advent calendar when I was growing up <3

  3. Diane,
    Did you do a post on turning old cable knit sweaters into throw pillows?
    I NEED instruction on this! I have sentimental, family, hand knit sweaters
    and don’t want to cause unraveling.
    The Christmas ideas are wonderful! T.Y.!

    1. Thanks S. Marie – I enjoy finding pretty ways to decorate with thrift store items. I do not have a post on now to make a sweater into a pillow, but there are many tutorials on YouTube showing how. Type this into Google: “how to make a cable knit sweater into a pillow” and many videos will show up. I am sure after looking at a few you will know how to proceed. Enjoy your weekend.

  4. I love the trees with glitter, I used to have one of those lol. Glad to hear your doing well, please dont do too much take the time you need to heal

  5. I hope you are receiving good wishes for your recovery from your many readers! Best of health for you from Palm Springs, friend. Laura

  6. Love your tree jars Diane. What elegant decorations! Did you use a fine glitter in white? I can’t tell from the photos what type of glitter and color was used. I look forward to making these this year, so buying the right supplies and tips will be helpful. Thanks and Happy Holidays 2016.

  7. Hi Diane. I tried glueing and sprinkling the these old candy holder trees and made such a mess I was hoping you could tell me where I went wrong.

    A helper at JoAnn told me to use Mod Podge Glass-lustre. It didn’t seem right to me but she said it is a glue that is not fast drying which is what you suggested.

    Please help me as I love the look of them, especially with the tea lights and I am anxious to find out where I went wrong.

    Most sincerely, Carole

    1. Hi Carole – I am not sure from your note if you used regular glue or the Mod Podge Glass Luster to make the glittered jars? I have never used the Mod Podge glass product and don’t know anything about it. For my tree jars I used white Elmer’s glue. If you soak the jars in hot soapy water you can get them clean again to start over. I simply brushed white glue evenly over the jars and then sprinkled glitter all over. It was super quick and easy. I then let them sit undisturbed to dry. Let me know what you used and what type of glitter you are using too.

  8. Thanks for the inspirations have already thought for xmas next year as I am an xmas crafter all the year round will be back to other things from you.

  9. I just love your mantel and there is not one thing you do that is not just fabulous. I look forward to your holiday decorations so much. It is like taking a house tour of some really rich mansion to me.

    Thank you again for all your wonderful lessons and especially for the inexpensive ways to do all of them.

  10. I love it!!! I have a similar glass tree jar…I think I’m going to have to snazzy it up, Diane style! I love the idea of adding a battery operated tea light, I never would have thought of that! Thanks! :)

  11. I really like how the glitter trees came out! It’s really pretty how you layered the frame over the chalkboard too. =]

  12. Hi Diane, I am a new follower – found you through a link from someone’s blog. I love your mantel. I pinned that same picture from pinterest last year as well. My friend and I made the chalkboards with wreaths and put them in our booth at the antique mall -so pretty! I also ordered the boxwood wreaths from Antique Farmhouse. If you google “boxwood wreath” there are several sources out there, but Antique Farmhouse had the best price. I love your blog and your style!

  13. Diane — I noticed some boxwood wreaths at Target yesterday, but didn’t check the price. They were probably Smith and Hawken brand.

    Now I’m motivated to be on the lookout for glass trees. I’d probably go the milk glass route. You’ve done a beautiful job combining nostalgia and sentimentality with up-to-the-minute elegance, not an easy combo.

  14. Hi Diane, Your trees are lovely! I have some preserved boxwood wreaths on order from Antique Farmhouse. They offer a 12 inch for $30 plus shipping. Not inexpensive but they are so beautiful. Happy Holidays!

  15. Diane — I, too, wanted some preserved boxwood wreaths…never could get onto Decor Steals fast enough! Then I was at Safeway (not sure if you have that out your way?) and not only did I get two but I got them for about $15 each since I had a couple $10 off coupons…they have this website where you choose your offers (Just for U or something like that). Just FYI. Weird, but I started picking up the tree jars this fall, too! I’ve found about 6 sizes out here in Oregon..some are fatter and some more slender in design. I put all sorts of Christmas treats in ours. I think there’s still some left? Ha!

  16. I have seen a lot of mantel ideas on Pinterest and on the various blogs that I am reading. I just wanted to let you know that yours is my absolute favourite. Love it! Love it! You clearly show that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to create something unique and elegant like yours. Thanks for the inspiration! ~Thea

  17. very fun Diane, I am not a traditional red & green person so I enjoy finding ideas for the holidays that showcase other colors, like your fantastic turquoise.