Ideas + Advice

christmas small living room
Decor Tips

Apartment Christmas Decorating Ideas

Turn up your holiday playlist, shimmy into your coziest sweater, and get out your candy canes, holly and garland – because these apartment Christmas decorating ideas are ready for you to bring them to life!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The weather’s a little crisper. Faces are a little brighter. Storefronts are a little merrier and the music is a little jollier. Your apartment should tell the same story. This year, get started early: The day after Thanksgiving, roll up your sleeves, amp up the holiday music and bring out your holiday decorations; Monthlong merriment is on its way!

Holiday Decorating Ideas for Small Spaces

Year-round, being the prime decorator of a space can be hard. From choosing the color of a sofa to the texture of a rug to the paint shade of a wall and everything in between, there are a million choices to be made – and that’s all just on a regular, off-season day! At Christmastime, the pressure to create a space that’s at once festive and cozy, fresh and timeless, fun and sophisticated hits hard. In a small space, it might even feel impossible. (It’s not.) Here are some easy ways to make merry your small space.

  • Downsize the tree. Most tree lots will have a section of small trees just waiting for a home. This year, skip the tall evergreens and go for the underdog. In a small space, details are everything, so give your rescued tree a makeover with some festive bows, tinsel and a pretty skirt!
  • “Sneak in” holiday cheer. You may not have a fireplace mantle or stairwell to show off your love for the season, but you do have surfaces. Whether it’s an end table, kitchen counter, coffee table, floating shelf or even a nightstand – all will make happy homes for a Christmas ornament, snow globe or other festive decoration.
  • Pillow season. Throw pillows are surprisingly festive! Swap out your white, beige and brown sofa pillows for crimson red and green pillows. A small change can work wonders. (Looking for a weekend project? Try this for DIY Christmas pillow décor: Pick out a piece of Christmas-patterned fabric and sew it into a pillowcase for your accent pillows. Simply throw on the pillowcase when Christmas rolls around – no need to buy Christmas pillows!)
  • Reinvent the wreath. Don’t be fooled: Wreaths aren’t just for front doors! You can most definitely place them inside the home. A staff favorite here at Living Spaces? The window wreath: It’s indoor décor that can also be seen from the outdoors! You can also try a “partial wreath”: style a bit of garland around the top of a mirror!
  • Sight unseen. It’s not Christmas without a whiff of pine here, peppermint there, gingerbread everywhere! Infuse your home with the scents of the season through candles or diffusers. (You can also try this hack: Place a coffee mug full of vanilla in the oven. Bake on low heat, and get your nostrils ready – because your home is about to smell good.) Of course, if you have the time, baking actual cookies, gingerbread and cinnamon rolls is even better!
  • Sound unheard. To us, Christmas music is just as much decoration as any ornament or snow globe. Curate a playlist of your favorite songs, or just tell your smart speaker to “play Christmas music” for all the top-charting hits. Then, dance like Santa’s watching!
  • Don’t forget the bedroom. Don’t ignore the bedroom – because waking up and falling asleep to holiday magic is like nothing else. Besides, Christmas decorations aren’t just for guests, they’re for you, too! Layer on a throw blanket and festive pillows to get in the spirit.
apartment christmas decorating

Mini Tree Lot

It’s the time of year to clear away your tabletop decor and make room for miniature trees! Shown here, three miniature evergreens in burlap planters are enough to fill that tree-sized hole in your heart. Next to them, a tree-shaped shelf makes the holiday season official.
apartment christmas decor ideas

Boho Holiday

This laidback living area keeps Christmas ‘cool.’ It starts with the boho-influenced coffee table; a natural, rattan-like material offsets the rich colors of the tree, pillows and rug. The cozy sofa makes the whole aesthetic inviting (Santa himself may never want to leave)! Image credit: @jessi_shapiro

How to Decorate a Small Living Room for Christmas

More ideas to keep your spirits bright.

  • DIY it. Almost anything can be DIYed. There are a lot of reasons for going DIY; it saves money and allows you to create a custom piece to fit in with your living room’s size and style. Try a wreath to start: Grab a plain wreath from a craft store and add festive ribbons and miniature candy canes!
  • Get cozy with blankets. It’s cold outside and you’ve got hot chocolate to serve and a good movie to watch – all you need is cozy blankets in cheery colors. Snuggle up to crimson red and pine tree green.
  • Glow with candles. Candles can bring an extra glow – with the right candle holder. Look for gold hurricanes and candle lanterns to heighten the glow.
  • Cookie monster. Bake Christmas cookies shaped like sleighs, stockings and trees – ahead of time. Frost them in red and green, then keep them on a glass jar or tray with a lid on a coffee table. This is one Christmas decoration that’s fun for the whole family to make – and tasty!
  • Lanterns. Candles optional! Tie a bright red bow around a lantern or sconce to make your living room feel straight out of a Dickensian story.
  • By the fireplace with care. Just like the poem, every Christmas home has stockings hung on the fireplace. If you don’t have a fireplace, hang them along a stair rail, curtain rod or bedpost. (Another favorite fireplace alternative is the ladder. Try placing a decorative ladder against a wall and hanging stockings from its rungs!)
  • Christmas card wall. Christmas cards from Aunt Susie in Michigan? Old friend from college? Dentist’s office? If you get heaps of cards, make them work to your advantage. Tape a piece of string to each and secure the string to a wall. Also try ribbon instead of string and clothespins instead of tape. Yet another way involves picture frames: Replace photographs with Christmas cards!
apartment christmas decorations ideas

Bedroom Garland

A bedroom to sing carols about: A metal panel bed intertwined with garland, a cozy brown end-of-bed bench (tufted for sophistication), a miniature end-of-bed Christmas tree and a classic white bedspread. (Note the “snow” on the tree; This is an easy DIY project involving white soap shavings, cornstarch and warm water. Get the flocked tree look here.) Image credit: @littlejoymarket

apartment christmas decoration ideas

'Oh What Fun' Pillows

This sofa aesthetic is pillows done right. For the holidays, choose brighter, warm tones like the cherry throws shown above. Layer on a cozy white blanket for contrast (shown above) and smaller accent pillows with seasonal greetings and fun patterns. (We’re also loving the ottoman-as-table look to amp up the warmth for “hibernation season.”) Image credit: @belleamourblog

Small Christmas Tree Ideas

Small tree, big heart. Try these ideas for size:

  • It’s all about the container. The right planter can really make a small tree feel extra wintry. Try rustic baskets, distressed metal planters or rustic vases.
  • Christmas tree decor. Skip the tree altogether and opt for pictures of Christmas trees or Christmas tree figurines. It’ll save you space, water, time, money, stress – and still keep your space from feeling bah humbug.
  • Themed. Instead of hanging bauble ornaments, try a cute theme, like sweets or animals. For sweets: Hang miniature candy canes and ornaments shaped as gumdrops and peppermint sticks. For animals: Hang baby woodland creature ornaments (deer, bears, moose, etc.) and intersperse the look with miniature pinecones.
  • Colors. To make a small tree stand out, opt for one in a color other than green! You can find real Christmas trees flocked in white – but for all other colors your best bet is to go artificial. Try an artificial tree in pink, blue or silver!
  • A collection. A small tree goes well with – a small tree! Pair two together or make it a trio. A small collection of miniature trees will turn your living room into an enchanted forest. (For a trio, try one taller one and two shorter ones or vice versa. Match planters and ornaments for a dazzling aesthetic.)
  • Room-by-room. Carry the tree theme to the bedroom, dining room, kitchen and bathroom! Particularly the bathroom – because nothing’s better than waking up and brushing your teeth to the cheery scent of Christmas!
  • Ribbon. Many small trees are so small they can’t hold ornaments; If that’s your tree, try a ribbon! Tie a big red bow around the center of the tree to make it feel special, loved and so seasonal.
small space christmas decor

A Grey and Silver Palette

And the color of the season is . . . grey? Grey isn’t the first color we think of when we think of Christmas, but this living room is bursting with holiday magic – and it’s all grey. It does this through tonal contrast – white pillows for a lighter feel, silver-accented coffee table, wall decor and figurines, and a touch of green plants. Image credit: @dianaastevenson
white christmas tree

White Tree

Skip green this year and go for a white Christmas tree. It will make you feel like you’re living in a sort of sugarplum fairy wonderland. To get the look shown here, accessorize with white gold bauble ornaments and mix and match sizes for a balanced feel. (Also, make sure to layer the ornaments – some closer to the trunk than others. Check out this article for more tips on ornament-decorating.) Image credit: @goldengirlstanning

Christmas Decor Without a Tree

Whether you deliberately decided to go without a tree this year or waited a little too long to buy one this year (only to find all the tree lots sold out), we’ve got you. Here’s how to decorate for Christmas without a tree:

  • Decorate with garland. Garland is like the tree that wasn’t – it’s a tree, in string form. String it along walls, curtain rods, windowsills, entryway tables and bookcases.
  • String lights. Find a surface that can be “wrapped,” and then cover every inch of it with lights! Try the pole base of a floor lamp or the base of an end table. You can even “outline” furniture with string lights; Try lining the perimeter of a TV stand!
  • Fill a glass jar with ornaments. Rockin’ around the Christmas . . . jar? Yes. Make sure it’s glass so you can see all the pretty ornaments inside!
  • Fill a glass jar with pinecones. If you want your space to tell a more rustic story, pinecones will help. Fill up a jar with them!
  • Fill a glass jar with candy canes. Nothing says the holidays are here quite like candy canes. Fill up a giant jar with candy canes and use it as a centerpiece for extra sweet charm.
  • Presents. If you normally have a Christmas tree but for whatever reason decided to do without one this year, the space where you normally keep the tree doesn’t have to feel empty. One of the easiest ways to fill it up? Presents! They don’t even have to be real presents; Wrap up boxes with pretty paper and heap them together in jolly piles!
  • Christmas coat rack. A coat rack is kind of like a tree, when you think about it. Both are tall, both have “branches” and both can be decorated. Instead of a tree this year, try a coat rack! Instead of coats, hang stockings, ornaments and seasonal signs. Place it where you would normally place the tree for a fresh alternative.

Holiday Feature

Here comes Santa Claus – so get your VIP seating ready! Style a Christmas tree between two chairs. Not only does this make for a living room that feels joyful all December long, but on Christmas morning it makes opening presents all the more stylish and comfortable. Image credit: @thevintagetearose


Taking the spirit on the go: Decking out your space with Christmas decorations isn’t about objects or materialism; It’s about helping to fester and remind you of the joy and cheer the season brings. It shouldn’t stop when you leave your home. Wear festive colors and a smile on your face all season long to own – and spread – the joy.

Living in a small apartment shouldn’t discourage you from going all out this year. On the contrary, a small space can be worked to your Christmas-decorating advantage, because you’ve got something large houses can only dream of: a naturally cozy feel! Play this up with coziness all around: Use blankets, pillows, fabric sofas and shag rugs. Keep your space brightly-lit to make all nooks and crannies come alive – do this through floor lamps, table lamps, lanterns, candles and string lights. Finally, hang up artwork inspired by nature (and specifically, the rustic woods). Do all this, and your space will feel festively cozy just in time for the holidays; all that will be left to do is heat up the hot chocolate, turn on a good Christmas movie and snuggle up with the family (or family dog, if you prefer)! Christmas never felt so easy.

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— ‘Tis the Season —

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.