The holidays are a wonderful time of the year. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all have amazing decorations like the Griswolds and have thousands of Christmas lights beaming from our homes? Consumers spend billions on Christmas every year. Aside from the gifts, there are meals to be prepared and decorations to put up. The cost of Christmas is ever increasing, but below are some tips to help keep the decorations looking great but still affordable.

Use LED Lights
Not only do LEDs use roughly 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs, they can last up to 50,000 hours. Since these lights don't generate much heat, they can be made with plastic, which is a cheaper alternative to glass. This passes the savings on to the consumer.

Generally speaking, LED lights are a lot cheaper than incandescent lights and offer significant energy savings. LED lights use approximately 4.8 watts per string of lights while incandescent bulbs use about 20.4 watts per string. This results in approximately a 24% difference in energy consumption in one strand. By using LED lights, you can save on your electricity bill for the month of December.

Shop After the Holidays
Many amazing deals are on days after the holidays. By shopping immediately after a holiday or in an opposing season, you will be able to save tons on highly marked-up Christmas goods. Many stores frantically mark down their merchandise by 50 to 75%, and as time passes, merchandise can be marked down by up to 95% of the original retail price.

DIY Decor
Wreaths can be pricey. By buying a plain, undecorated pine wreath at a lower cost, and adding your own inexpensive decorations, you can save money. Pine cones are another item that can easily be located outside, for free, and they can be painted with inexpensive Christmas colors or glitter. This project is extremely low cost, but it will add a simple Christmas touch.

Shop at Second-Hand Stores
One person's trash is another person's treasure. Many people try to get rid of old holiday decor before and after the holiday season. By scouring Kijiji, Craigslist or second-hand shops, you will be able to find a lot of great holiday items for less.

Buy an Artificial Tree
While many people prefer a real tree for the holiday season, buying an artificial tree eliminates the repeated annual cost. While an artificial Christmas tree could run you between $80 to $200, a real Christmas tree can cost upward of $200, but the average cost is closer to $100. Paying $100 each year for a Christmas tree adds up to $500 over a five-year span. Alternatively, an artificial tree would only cost you the initial $100 to $200. Many say that the smell of the real tree is what they love most, but a more budget-friendly option may be to buy an artificial tree and a pine-scented candle to save you money over the long run.

Reuse Your Decorations
Many people throw out Christmas decor each year and thus have to buy new garland, ornaments and other Christmas trinkets year after year. By packing all of your decorations in a box and storing them in your basement or garage each year, you will save money that would otherwise be spent on new decorations.

The Bottom Line
Christmas is a magical time for many, and while the Griswolds decked out their house, many may not be able to afford all of those decorations. You don't need exorbitant amounts of money to make your home feel and look like Christmas. Planning ahead and taking the time to implement these steps can save you hundreds of dollars this holiday season.

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