Lighting expert Brandon Fromm, of Creations of Christmas LLC, suggests that people light all the focal points of their homes,  such as roof peaks and main trees and bushes.

Lighting expert Brandon Fromm, of Creations of Christmas LLC, suggests that people light all the focal points of their homes, such as roof peaks and main trees and bushes.

Photo provided by Brandon Fromm

Experts share budget-friendly holiday decorating tips

By: Charity Meier | Metro | Published November 9, 2022

 Painting rocks as festive characters is a  budget-conscious way to make a stylish decoration.

Painting rocks as festive characters is a budget-conscious way to make a stylish decoration.

Photo provided by Corie Conroy


METRO DETROIT — Decorating one’s home for the holidays is a time-honored tradition that has become even grander of an exhibition throughout the years. However, as the decorating becomes more elaborate, the expense of doing so also continues to rise.

In order to save money on decorating this holiday season, interior designer Corie Conroy suggests using materials found in Michigan woodlands, such as rocks, pine cones and tree branches to create your own holiday décor.    

“We’re lucky in the fact that we live in Michigan and we have evergreen trees and pine cones at our disposal,” Conroy, president of First Impression Home Staging and Interior Design in Bloomfield Hills, said. “So, taking clippings of evergreens and pine cones and making garland and tablescapes out of it is a really great idea ... just to make things look festive. It’s a free thing to do.”

If natural garlands aren’t your thing, Emma Wieckowski, of Augusta, Georgia, co-owns He Saw Her Sew with her husband, Theo, and suggested making garlands out of glossy magazine pages. “Like the Target Wish book,” she said. “Bonus points if you cut it up before the kids can go through it and want everything. “

Conroy said that she and a friend saw a store that was selling rocks painted to look like snowmen last year and decided to make their own version. She said that they went to a park and picked up flat-surfaced rocks and painted them to look like different characters before putting them in a bowl.

“They were really cute, and it’s one of my favorite decorations for the holidays and winter, is my snowman rocks that I painted,” she said. “It was very homemade, pretty inexpensive — you just need some time and some paint, and there you go.”

Conroy also suggested utilizing items found at the dollar store to create or “jazz up” existing decorations. Another good location to find items, according to local teacher Steven Rice, is the thrift store. He said they all offer inexpensive, “gently-used” decorations. Some crafters, who utilize dollar store items, have started groups online that illustrate holiday crafting ideas, with step-by-step videos on how to create them.

Conroy said scented candles can go a long way to help with holiday ambiance.

“I think that always kind of warms up an environment and kind of gets you in the spirit, too,” said Conroy.

Retired librarian Susan Rogan, of Ironwood, recalled making big paper snowflakes out of white paper with her children. She said that making snowflakes was a holiday tradition in her home for years, and they would place them on all the windows.

Wieckowski incorporates many homemade crafts into her holiday décor. She suggested making holiday decorations from used fabric, such as clothing. According to Wieckowski, there is a growing community of fabric upcyclers online.

Wieckowski suggested making a Christmas tree cutout from felt and placing it on a wall. She said this would be not only cost-saving, but also space-saving, and something children could decorate.

Conroy said to coordinate with the existing colors in a room when decorating it.

“For instance, if your house is mostly blues, in my opinion, your holiday decorating should have the color that is coordinating with your home. That is something that I like to see. It just really kind of all comes together. You can buy garland and Christmas tree ornaments that are all different colors. It doesn’t have to be red and green. … I think that whatever colors you have in your house, you should follow that color scheme in your Christmas decorations, as well.”

Another major part and expense of decorating is illuminating the house with lights, both inside and outside. Brandon Fromm, owner of Creations of Christmas LLC in Fraser, shined some light on some cost-saving measures to brighten your home with holiday cheer.

Fromm said the No. 1 way to save money when hiring a company such as his to decorate your home is to purchase the lights on your own, rather than from the company. He said that he offers three different light grades for customers to choose from, depending upon their budgets, but if they purchase their own lights, it is always more cost-effective.

He said different grades of lights last from two to 10-plus years. According to Fromm, the best way to accumulate holiday lighting at a reasonable price is to purchase it the day after Christmas when many stores have deep discounts. Having extension cords and timers is also important. Fromm said cords and timers are additional charges that are easily avoided.

According to Fromm, the average cost for having a home professionally decorated with holiday lights ranges from $350 to $1,200. He said the price depends on the size of the home. He said his cost includes installation, removal and storage, as well as insurance that the company will fix any issues that are weather related at no additional charge.

For those who want to put lights up themselves, Fromm suggests putting them up as early as late October to avoid colder weather. He said you can put them in place early and wait to turn them on until the week of Thanksgiving.

“Look at the weather I had today; it was gorgeous,” Fromm said Nov. 2, which was sunny and warm. “In three weeks, I’ll be out there, and it’s going to be 10-20 degrees. Totally different,” he said.

The number of lights needed to decorate a home depends on the size of the home. Fromm said he welcomes holiday lighting questions and will gladly answer them. He said that it is not necessary to purchase his services to get his lighting expertise.

“You don’t have to call to hire me. A lot of people have questions and say, ‘You know, I can’t afford you, but could you Google Map my home and let me know how many lights I need for that pine tree,’ and I’ll do that for them. You know, it’s Christmastime. Why wouldn’t I?” Fromm said.

Fromm said that, for those wanting to save money on their electric bills, he strongly encourages them to purchase LED bulbs. According to Fromm, by using LED bulbs, the homeowners’ lighting bills will go down by as much as 80%. He said he goes all out for his own holiday lighting and decorations, and his bill went from $1,800 per month for November and December to $400 when he switched to LED bulbs.

“That’s big; I mean 80% is huge,” said Fromm.

He said that, to illuminate your home, focus on decorating your focal points and main trees and bushes. For example, he said if you have two weeping cherry trees on either side of your sidewalk, to make sure to decorate the trees. Fromm suggests decorating the top in one color and the trunk in a different color.

He said to be sure to hang wreaths on all peaks, as well as on all doors and either side of the garage. An easy way to hang the wreaths on the garage is right over the garage lights, instead of putting an anchor in the wall, Fromm said.

To save money, Fromm suggested purchasing a plain wreath and modifying it yourself.   

“If you build your own wreath, you can save a lot of money,” said Fromm.

Another place to focus is a deck and backyard, if it is visible to neighbors or those who drive by. He said many people want live cedar roping draped around the deck with bows and lighting.   

“For the customer that wants to go all out, you outline all the gutters, all the gables, all the straight lines. You outline it like a gingerbread house,” said Fromm.

The latest trend for holiday lights is to transform flagpoles into Christmas trees, according to Fromm.

“With everything going on with the nation, a lot of people put flagpoles up. There’s more flagpoles up than there ever was,” he said. “So, we take Christmas lights and hook them to the top (of the flagpole) and instead of raising a flag, we raise a Christmas tree out of Christmas lights.”

For more information on holiday lighting, contact Fromm at (586) 825-3333 or via email at