The Renters Guide to Decorating for Christmas

You guys, I love the holiday season, but I’m not sure our landlord does. From banning fresh cut Christmas trees to rules about what you can put on your walls, getting festive in your rented place can be tricky. However, a strict lease or a tiny apartment doesn’t have to mean the end of holiday cheer in your apartment! Read on for four common Yuletide conundrums renters face and their workarounds.


There’s a good chance you didn’t budget any square footage for a tree in your living room, especially if you’re in a big city where space is hard to come by. If you’re not interested in cramming your already tight space with a giant spruce, consider a table top tree, like this cute set up from Space Optimized.

Image from SpaceOptimized

Another traditional tree alternative is temporary wall art! Cut a Christmas tree silhouette from wrapping paper and use wall-safe tape to display, or take a string of lights to form a brightly lit tree on your wall!

Image from A Merry Mishap

Finally, I just saw the cutest idea on a friend’s Instagram- in lieu of a tree, Kelly (@themoderatebody) and her husband decorated a door frame in their duplex and I loved the idea so much I took a screenshot of her story (thanks, Kelly!).

Image from The Moderate Body


Yes, I chose this because of the dachshund (Image from Target)

Stockings hung by the fire with care are an integral part of the holiday aesthetic, so what does a person do when they have no fireplace or mantle in their home? Upcycle a found branch or a wooden ladder into a cute display.

Image from Kelly Elko

In our apartment, we have out bar cart where a TV stand would normally go and every year we turn it into a makeshift mantle!

Miami Christmas 2015

Alternately, you could apply the same concept to dressing up a shelf in your living or dining room.


Here in Milwaukee, most apartment buildings have ixnayed fresh cut Christmas trees due to disposal and fire hazard issues. While you may not mind skipping the needle clean up, you may still want those Christmas-y scents to fill your home. To capture the scent of a fresh evergreen, try a stove top potpourri- Pinterest is brimming with how-to’s. This candle from Anthropologie smells like the real deal and looks festive, too!

Image from Anthropologie

While this may violate the spirit of the rule, fresh wreaths are also a great way to bring the smell of Christmas into your rental home. Hang them unexpected places, like kitchen cabinets or off the backs of your dining chairs and enjoy!


If you’re already running low on storage space, the idea of filling it up with boxes of items you use for eight weeks out of the year is not very appealing. Rather than hauling out tons and tons of store bought decor, look at some DIY options. Take a cue from Buddy the Elf and create a hallway full of paper snowflakes, or make your own Advent calendar.

Image from The Merry Thought

I hope you’ve found a few new ways to bring Christmas into your home! Before I go, I have a final thought as you spread holiday cheer as a renter- Remember to be courteous to your neighbors. Getting so excited to hang up your wreath you start hammering after 10:00 pm isn’t exactly going to earn you a plate of cookies from the person who shares a wall with you, you know what I’m saying?