Decorating can be expensive. Fabric, furniture, refrigerator, pillows, posters and wall hangings, decorations, storage…the list just keeps going on. So how can you pull together a welcoming space without living on Raman Noodles? Get creative. Since a dime is worth 10 cents, here are 10 ways to decorate without breaking the bank.
1. Bring in unused items from home. Lamps, rugs, holiday lights, stuffed animals, small fidget toys you steal from your kids, neighbors, or relatives, plants, chairs, tables, appliances, and well you get the picture.
2. Host a “Swap Day” with other colleagues. This can work even if you’re new and don’t have much to contribute. You can ask staff members for decorations, cork boards, shelves, file cabinets, books, and anything else they want to swap out. (Last year I got 10 copies each of Please Stop Laughing at Me… One Woman’s Inspirational Story by Jodee Blanco and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Kids by Sean Covey–I didn’t use them last year, but this year I am running a book club and we will read both these books.)
3. Need furniture? First make sure to check with maintenance to see if they have any pieces stored away somewhere. Also, post on Facebook and look in Craig’s List under free. You may have to check often, but you never know what you’re going to find!
4. Target $1.00 Spot. Can’t you just already see the bargains? Most of my pails and storage containers are from the dollar spot. I love the end of the season when things are 50-75% off. Right now you can find some great “Bullying” resources there.
5. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. I paint tuna cans to hold my ice breakers, tomato cans to hold pens, sauce jars to hold craft supplies. This leads me to. . .
6. Get creative. Get messy a little; you might be surprised with the outcome. Not creative? That’s ok, because I bet you can copy a picture. Pinterest is probably the best website I have found. There is all kind of stuff on there. Here are a few ideas below.
7. Ask. That’s right, ask! Many stores have educator discounts. You may just need to show your id badge. Michael’s, A. C. Moore, Barnes and Noble, are just a few near me that have a 10-15% discount just for asking. You could also ask your local library during their book sale if they would donate books to your library, or use the list serve at your school if colleagues have an item that you are looking for. I actually got the coffee pot, mugs and microwave that are in my room this way. I started by sending an email saying that I wanted to start a “Coffee with the Counselor” and I needed mugs and a coffee maker. I had everything I needed by the next day. While you are at it, call or write to some college admissions offices for some college swag. You can score pennants, posters, mugs, stress balls, and pens by doing this, all at no cost.
8. Paint. While you may not be able to paint your whole room, you may be able to paint a stripe. If you are not able to paint a stripe, why not paint a piece of wood that you hang up. Home Depot or Lowe’s will even cut a piece to size if you ask. I am planning to do this with my Kindness Group. I am planning on having them paint strips of wood various colors and then we are going to add the words “What You Do Matters!” Once again, Pinterest can be a huge source of inspiration for this type of decorating.
9. Storage Matters. You can’t have cardboard boxes hanging out in the corner of your room and expect people to think of it as warm and inviting. Make sure you have storage for your things. Baskets on a counter look nice and can hold a variety of things. A larger one on the floor can hold toys and stuffed animals that kids can hold and play with as they talk with you. If you do not have a lot of file cabinets, but you have shelves, put things in binders and label them.
10. Create your own posters. There are several sites to do this.
A. www.values.com. You can request an educator pack that contains 4 different posters. You can also create your own billboards that you can print out and hang.
Here are mine:
B. www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk. Create your own Keep Calm poster using a variety of colors and images.
C. Publisher, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Paint. Find an image on the web or your camera roll and the possibilities are endless.
D. www.bighugelabs.com Create your own motivational posters.
E. www.poster-street.com This site has free posters. Just find the one you like and press print.
F. www.wigflip.com/automotivator Another create your own motivate poster site.
G. www.quotescover.com Have a great quote? Turn it into art!
I hope this helps you find some ways to decorate without spending a fortune. If you have any other ideas, feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment or one of the ways below.
Other ways to join in the conversation with The Middle School Counselor:
- The Middle School Counselor Facebook Page
- Carol’s Pinterest Boards
- The Middle School Counselor on Twitter
- Caught In The Middle School Counselors
- The Middle School Counselor App