Decorate your dorm without breaking the bank

By Kristen Finley
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Homemade car ornament on my family’s tree. Photo by Eddie on Flickr.

Decorating for the holidays is something a lot of people look forward to after Halloween comes and goes. Now that you’re away from home with no one to tell you you can’t deck the halls all over your dorm room, spending a lot of money to decorate can end up costing you (no pun intended) a lot more than expected.

The number one rule to budget shopping is this: knowing where to go.

My favorite place to go shopping for decorations is always Target and with the closest one being near campus, it’s easily accessible. String lights with over 100 bulbs run just under $10, and these prices are mirrored at places such as Home Depot or Lowes. Target even offers battery powered lights with 50 bulbs for just under $6 (which is the perfect size for a dorm bedroom).

Walmart also has competitive prices for indoor decorations, and almost unbeatable prices for artificial trees, pillows, blankets, lights and wreaths. Walmart also has sets of ornaments and ugly sweaters in case an ugly sweater party is in the books.

If you’re shooting for poinsettias and don’t want to pay the price for the authentic ones, there are artificial bundles that you could save for the future that are very reasonably priced at craft stores such as Michael’s, Joann’s and the like. They also have low prices for indoor and outdoor decorations, and different styles of wreaths. You could also buy supplies to make your own ornaments and wreaths.

If you’re like me and have toy cars lying around, it’s also very easy to make ornaments out of them with some string around the body or one of the tires. Some have even added metal loops to the side, back end or the top of the car for a cleaner look. When done that way, they’re very professional looking and add style between all the other ornaments.

In case you haven’t heard from the community advisors or RAs, it’s a fire hazard to decorate the outside of your dorm. So while it’s cute and customary, putting a wreath outside the door is not permitted on campus. However, on your own bedroom door, it’s perfectly fine.

Along with decorations outside the dorm, open flames (aka candles) are not allowed in the dorms, either. So if you’re wanting to make your dorm smell like cinnamon or pine, buy a plug-in air freshener instead. While it doesn’t appeal to the typical holiday aesthetic, it will make you less likely to burn down the building or force everyone out into the cold with a fire alarm (and you won’t be breaking the rules).

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