24 Ways to Decorate Your Dorm or Apartment for the Holidays | Christmas Dorm Decor Ideas We Love

Deck your room out with these extra cute (and affordable!) Christmas dorm decor ideas.

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Dorm christmas decorations - Hand holding a mini Christmas tree.
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This post will show you the best Christmas dorm decor ideas to bring some holiday cheer to your space.

The holidays are finally here and I couldn’t be more excited! The holiday season puts me in such a good mood that I find it difficult to keep a straight face whenever I hear festive music or see colorful decorations — I’m sure many of you can relate.

Of course, I couldn’t truly be a sucker for holiday spirit without bringing it into my dorm room! Seasonal dorm room decorations are always a fun creative outlet, and Christmas is the mother of all decorating holidays — you only need to venture outside to see giant red ornaments and bedecked trees everywhere.

Why wait until you go home for winter break to decorate for the holidays? After all, getting your dorm room into the holiday spirit could give you a mood boost as you study for finals!

{RELATED POST: Create a Cozy Space with These 11 Decor Ideas}

In this article, we’ll show you some gorgeous (and inexpensive!) ways to decorate your dorm room for the holidays. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, it’s impossible not to be drawn into the wonderful giving spirit that December brings us.

Turn on a Spotify Christmas playlist, throw on a cozy sweater and a grin, and let’s get started! Here are some easy, inexpensive ways to give your room a touch of holiday spirit.

1. Mini Tree

Imagine how cute one of these would look on your desk!

Mini Christmas trees are easy to find at most stores, and come in a huge variety of styles. Plus, they are cheap and won’t take up too much space in your closet the rest of the year.

I love this Target one because it comes prelit which makes decorating that much easier. Plus, it’s crazy affordable at under $20!

2. Change the name tags on your door

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When you live in a dormitory, its common for your RA to make name tags for your door.

When the holidays come around, switch out the original tags for holiday-themed ones! You can write your names on snowmen or reindeer! This simple switch will make all the difference as its the first thing you see when going into the room.

Just cut up some construction paper (or get these precut tags from Amazon) or print out some cute images and sharpie on your names!

3. Tinsel Garland

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I recently bought a garland similar to this rainbow and white one to hang around the art on my wall. Garlands are cheap and make a big impact if you want to decorate your dorm without going overboard.

They also come in a huge variety of styles; choose metallic tinsel for a modern glam style, or go with a more traditional faux pine garland.

4. Paper Snowflakes

Remember when you used to make paper snowflakes in elementary school? Well, those skills will come in handy if you’re looking for a way to decorate your room for free.

Use printer paper, old homework assignments, or even patterned paper and create the cutest winter or Christmas dorm decorations around!

5. Wood Sign

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This “o Christmas tree” sign would be a great way incorporate the holiday spirit into your decor if you love those modern farmhouse vibes. It’s so cute and can easily be hung on your wall or back of door.

If you love this cute, homemade vibe, you can find even more decorations like this in our guide to the best Etsy holiday decor finds.

6. Wrapping Paper “Wallpaper”

This is an idea I’ve seen all over the dorms in recent years. Pick out some seasonal wrapping paper and use it to cover an empty wall. Use painter’s tape or Command strips to temporarily adhere the paper to the wall. For under ten dollars, you’ll have a statement wall full of holiday spirit!

Wrapping paper walls paired with fun lights will make your dorm so fun and festive. However, if your walls are already decked out, use wrapping paper in a more subtle way. Try wrapping smaller items like a tissue box or your fridge to still get the look. You can even mix and match wrapping paper to align with all the roomies’ aesthetics.

You could also wrap your door in wrapping paper, as seen below. This is a really popular dorm Christmas decoration idea! Use either duct tape or ribbon to create the bow. People are sure to smile whenever they pass by your room.

Dorm Christmas decorations - Door Covered in Wrapping Paper

7. Wreath

Wreaths aren’t just for doors, though you can totally use them to add some cheer to your door! They can also make a big statement when hung over your desk, or as an accent to your photo wall.

8. Light some candles

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This is a much less invasive holiday hack for the dorm.

Holiday candles are one of the best parts of the holidays. From gingerbread cookie to peppermint swirl, these scents will make your space smell like Christmas. (I love this candle from Amazon!) They also make fantastic dorm Christmas decorations.

Nest holiday diffuser

If you’re not allowed to light candles in the dorm space, you can still buy some holiday-themed air fresheners. This Nest holiday diffuser is a big splurge but the scent is incredibly luxe and a favorite of influencers everywhere!

Especially if you’re trying to get into the spirit without going all out, this is a super simple way of inviting in the spirit without getting a bunch of extra stuff.

9. Get some holiday bedding

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Buy from Amazon.com

Your bed is a place where you spend a lot of time and a piece of furniture that takes up the most space in the dorm. Take advantage of your bed by purchasing some holiday sheets, blankets and throw pillows. (This fuzzy comforter and pillow set has ultimate winter vibes, and these throw pillows are so cute for all around your room!)

Especially if you don’t have any roomies or your roomies don’t want to decorate, this is a great way to make your own space festive.

You’ll be able to sip some hot chocolate in your decked out bed and think about what you want on your gift list!

10. Change out the soaps

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Get some holiday themed soaps for the kitchen and bathroom space for hand and dish washing. (These candy cane soaps smell incredible!)

Whenever you go to wash your hands you’ll be reminded of the merry month. This is super practical and affordable. It’s the simple things that count!

11. Make some art

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Although buying decor is awesome for the space, it can be even more fun to DIY your own pieces for the room. Color these wooden snowflakes or make a popcorn garland to hang around the walls.

This can be a fun activity to do with your roomies and definitely will not break the bank.

12. Embroidered Wall Art

Here’s another D.I.Y. Christmas dorm decor idea! With embroidery floss, fabric, and some basic sewing skills, you can create some inexpensive seasonal wall art!

13. Diffuse Essential Oils

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Buy from Amazon.com

I love diffusing essential oils as an alternative to candles, which aren’t allowed in most dorms. This holiday scented oil is a unique and easy way to give your space that holiday feel without cluttering your room with decor.

(Need a diffuser? Here’s a cute marble print one with thousands of 5-star reviews.)

14. Hang Up a Stocking

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Hang up a stocking and voila! Instant Christmas dorm decor. How cute is this red and white one?

You could put one of these on a gallery wall, or hang it on your door. This would also be easy to D.I.Y. if you know how to sew!

15. Fairy Lights

One of the easiest, and cheapest, ways to bring the holidays to life in your dorm is with lights. Not only are there a million options to choose from, but lights take minimal effort and have a huge turnaround.

You might already have fairy lights in your room, but they can also double as dorm Christmas decorations! We already have a whole post on hanging Christmas lights in your room, so be sure to check that out for tons of ideas!

16. Star Lights

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As an alternative to fairy lights, try these pretty star lights! They are sure to turn heads and are a little different than the other lights you’ll see in everyone else’s rooms.

This decoration will ~light up~ the room and make the space cozy at night.

17. Try a Holiday Mug

Okay, this one is not exactly a dorm Christmas decoration, but since coffee mugs are mandatory for college students, why not upgrade yours with some holiday cheer?

Mugs are fun, cheap, and useful. They are a practical way to add seasonal flair to warm drinks, and who’s to say you can’t keep using these once the holidays are over?

18. DIY with Pinecones

Dorm christmas decorations - Pinecone.
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If you can find pinecones where you live, this could be a great way to decorate for free! Scatter them around your room on your desk, windowsill, or bookshelf. Find some glue and glitter, and you’ve got an easy D.I.Y. project!

19. Get a Holiday Keychain

Holiday keychain from UO

Add a small ornament to your key fob or backpack to add a zing of cheer everywhere you go! This ‘skatersaurus’ ornament from Urban Outfitters is the perfect addition to take with you everywhere!

A few more Christmas dorm decor ideas…

Christmas dorm decor - Charlie Brown Christmas Tree
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  • Bring the Peanuts spirit into your room with this adorable Charlie Brown Christmas tree! At barely 18″ tall, it’s right at home on your dresser or desk — the perfect piece of Christmas dorm decor for any small space.
  • Cut snowflakes out of printer paper (we’re particularly fond of making 3D paper snowflakes) and hang them from your ceiling or stick them onto your window!
  • Throw a Santa hat on your bedpost or pillows for instant decor.
  • Replace the bulbs in your lamp with red or green ones!
  • And of course, don’t forget the mistletoe above your doorway!

Bonus: Fun Ways to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

Make holiday cookies

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Nothing says *holidays* like cookies do.

Bake some tasty treats for late night snacks when you’re stuck in the dorm studying. You can even lay out the cookies on a festive tray to make it super cute.

Use this 20-piece set of cookie cutters to make some awesome cookies!

Need a great cookie recipe? This one from Sally’s Baking Addiction is top notch and is perfect for using with cookie cutters.

Thrift some ugly Christmas sweaters

Target Christmas sweater

Take a trip to the thrift store with your roomies and find some extra chunky and colorful Christmas sweaters to wear around the dorm. These will keep you warm and make for a great photo-op with the roomies!

Create a holiday playlist

This may just be the best way to get into the holiday spirit while in college.

Go on your music streaming app of choice and put together a playlist of your all-time-fav songs to spread the cheer. (The playlist above has 5 hours of music to get you started!)

You can listen while you’re in the shower, doing homework and wearing headphones while walking around. Share the playlist you make in all your group chats to get everyone excited for the holidays!

What do you think of these Christmas dorm decor ideas?

What are your go-to dorm Christmas decorations? How have you decorated your dorm room for the holidays? What’s your favorite part of the holidays, and how do you bring it to your decor?

Let us know your fav college holiday hacks in the comments below!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2019; it was completely updated and revamped in 2020 with new photos and information.

3 thoughts on “24 Ways to Decorate Your Dorm or Apartment for the Holidays | Christmas Dorm Decor Ideas We Love”

  1. As a resident advisor I thank you for mentioning checking with your university decorating rules. I always bums me out when my residents have really cute decorations that are against university policy and I have to tell them to take it down.

    Reply
  2. A lot of people I know get clothespins and stamp or print out numbered cards. They pin the cards to a string of Christmas lights as a countdown until Christmas 🙂

    Reply

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