11 Ways to Spruce Up Thrift Store Holiday Decor Finds

Watching your spending this holiday season? Decorate affordably by creating festive DIY masterpieces out of secondhand Christmas decorations or other thrift store items.
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thrifted holiday decor diy

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The holidays can be an expensive time of year, and this year many people are watching their dollars when it comes to festive decor.

Instead of buying new, check out a yard sale or your local thrift store to pick up some used Christmas decorations and other holiday items. Yes, they will likely need a little fixing up and creativity to transform them into dazzling displays, but secondhand finds can become exceptional holiday decorations if you’re willing to put in a bit of work.

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1. Spray Paint Ceramics

iStock-1348604956 used Christmas decorations outdoor holiday market

A simple way to upgrade any used Christmas decorations is to add a coat of spray paint. There are often many colorful ceramic holiday decorations on the shelves of thrift stores, including Santas, trees, reindeer, and more. Find items with distinctive shapes, and turn kitschy decor into an elegant decoration by painting them one solid color, such as white, gold, or blue.

Get inspiration for this DIY from Green with Decor. They found a secondhand Christmas village and painted it snow-white.

2. Floating Candle Holder

Etsy used christmas decorations floating candle
Photo: FloatingPearlsllc via

If the thrift store doesn’t have much secondhand holiday decor, cruise through the home goods section to find simple glass vases that can be updated into candle holders.

You can find a great tutorial on eHow to turn these vases into decorative table decorations. Pick up some artificial or real greenery and flowers—think cuttings from coniferous trees, holly berries, or poinsettias—and cut them down to fit inside the vases. Fill the vase with water to cover the clippings, leaving an inch or two at the top for a floating candle. We like this set of 24 floating candles on Amazon so you won’t run out between one holiday get together and another.

3. Cloche Display

Etsy used christmas decorations cloche display
Photo: Floralwayskeepsakes via

Did you come across some miniature decorations at the thrift store you’re not sure how to use? Buy a used glass cloche or cake dome and create a small holiday scene.

Add fake snow or fluff to the base, then position your small decorations, just like Domestically Speaking has done with a toy vintage truck and Christmas tree. Once you’ve finished setting up the scene, cover it with a glass cloche.

These covered displays are an excellent way to protect small decorations from children and pets, and they look cute, too.

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4. Weathered Wreath

iStock-1336662693 used christmas decorations making a wreath

It’s easy to pass by a wreath in the thrift store, as it’s likely thinned out over the years and now lacks the holiday spirit it once held. Grab one of these sad looking wreaths and give it a second life.

Often thrift store wreaths just need a little bit of TLC—what you bring home is merely the foundation. Add some real or artificial greenery to build it out and fluff it back up. Give it some ribbons, ornaments, pine cones and more to make an old wreath as good as new.

5. Tree Skirt

Etsy used christmas decorations upcycled tree skirt
Photo: CraftyCATS2020 via

There’s no guarantee you will find a proper tree skirt at the thrift store, but you may have some luck finding tablecloths with charming patterns.

Use your sewing skills to transform an old tablecloth into a new tree skirt. If you’re a novice sewer, eHow offers a step-by-step guide to upcycle a tablecloth. If sewing isn’t your forte, you can still do this DIY using liquid stitch to make the hem.

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6. Cookie Tray

Etsy used christmas decorations red santa cookie tray
Photo: ChristinesCreations9 via

Upcycle a plain secondhand tray into a Christmas tray, or create a treat platter for Santa. This simple DIY is beginner-friendly, and you can see how it’s done by the crafters on Across the Boulevard.

Start by painting the tray a seasonal color. Measure the serving surface and cut a piece of wrapping paper to those dimensions. Add the wrapping to the platter, and seal it in place with some mod podge. All you need now are some milk and cookies.

7. Sweater Stockings

Etsy used christmas decorations stockings made of sweaters
Photo: AnniesMountainHome via

In many box stores, you may find Christmas stockings that are made to look like cable-knit sweaters. Rather than pay full cost for a new stocking, find some cute sweaters at the thrift store and make your own version of these stockings, just like Delia Creates.

If these stockings are purely for decoration and won’t be filled by Santa, feel free to cheat with the construction using fabric glue. Otherwise, use reinforced stitching, so the stockings can be confidently filled on Christmas Eve.

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8. Holiday Book Decor

Etsy used christmas decorations books decorated for christmas
Photo: MitMitGift via

If secondhand stores are short on used Christmas decorations, head over to the book section for some novels. Salvage Sister and Mister offer a charming idea for holiday decor, by refurbishing the exterior of old books with a seasonal twist.

Paint all surfaces of the books with a festive color that suits your existing seasonal decor. Next, add a holiday saying to the spines, such as “Christmastime Is Here,” “O’ Holy Night,” or “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Wrap the books in twine or ribbon, and top it off with a sprig of pine or holly, a small ornament, or pine cones before you display them.

9. Ornaments

iStock-1067120322 used christmas decorations painting ornaments

Painting pre-loved Christmas ornaments is an easy and relatively quick upgrade that can be done with thrift store baubles or your existing decorations. Refresh your go-to holiday colors with new hues. This DIY can be as simple or as detailed as you like. Paint your decorations a solid color with craft paint, like this Liquitex BASICS paint set from Amazon, the best overall pick in our list of best acrylic paints. Get creative with ombre or other design elements like glitter or textures to create personalized tree decor.

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10. Holiday Frames

Etsy used christmas decorations upcycled christmas picture frame
Photo: BijouxAndreaBoutique via

There are always frames to be found in a thrift store, and they look very festive with a holiday makeover. Consider giving one a coat of paint, decoupage wrapping paper onto the frame, or glue artificial holly berries around it.

Design Improvised used fake pine needles, berries, and pine cones for their upcycled frame project. Once dry, add a holiday photograph, wrapping paper, or a cute Christmas saying inside the frame. Switch out the image every year to keep this Christmas decoration fun and fresh.

11. Ornament Wreath

Etsy used christmas decorations wreath made of ornaments
Photo: CreationsbyJillAnn via

An elegant ornament wreath can cost a lot of money. If you come across a variety of used Christmas baubles at a secondhand store, this holiday DIY is a must. Remember, you can paint the ornaments whatever colors you like before making your wreath.

You can assemble the wreath using a wood wreath base like Live Love DIY did, or string them together on a wire coat hanger like Easy Peasy Creative’s project. Either way, your upcycled thrift store baubles will take on new life this holiday season.

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