Cheap, easy ways to decorate for the holidays

Time is ticking, but if you haven't decorated the house for the holidays - or if your month's budget is earmarked for presents - there's still hope.

Decorating experts have plenty of cheap, easy ideas to spruce up any room before Christmas arrives. In fact, a trip to the grocery store can yield everything you need to add some Christmas sparkle in no time.

Decorate with flowers, plants

Flowers can be a frugal way to add glamour. Pick up an inexpensive bouquet and divide it among several creative vases. Think beyond the traditional glass container, said Jill Slater, a flower designer for FlowerPossibilities.com. Fill wine or martini glasses with small blooms or pile bigger bouquets into an ice bucket, she recommended.

"If it can hold water, it can hold flowers," Slater said. "The variety of barware and accessories can prove to be perfect containers for flower arrangements."

If you do opt for a glass vase, dress it up a bit with peppermint candies. You can either hang candy canes around the edge of the vase or fill it with small, wrapped peppermint candies. Make sure to leave room for water by placing a drinking glass into the vase, Slater said.

The Old Farmer's Almanac advocates venturing into the backyard to find a few decoration ideas.

"Rely on nature for a lot of decorations," said Martie Majoros, research editor for Old Farmer's Almanac. She suggested using vines or evergreen trimmings to make a quick wreath or garland.

Decorate with food

Sissy Biggers, co-host of PBS's "The Victory Garden," suggests thinking outside the box in the produce aisle during your next shopping trip. Look for exotic fruits in different colors and textures, and arrange them artfully for an instant centerpiece.

Pick up a pineapple, the traditional symbol of friendship and hospitality. Twist some gold ribbon or garland through the green stem and plop it on the fireplace mantel. You could also slice and scatter star fruits on hors d'oeuvres plates or float them in a punch bowl.

If you'd like to stick with Christmas reds and greens, Biggers recommends piling red, round pomegranates or delicate persimmons into a pretty clear serving bowl or vase. Other choices are red and green grapes and crab apples.

Another idea is to revamp tired wreaths by tucking in a few cinnamon sticks, Majoros said.

Decorate with household items

Everyday items such as aprons and cutlery can be transformed into decorative touches. Ikea design specialist Wendy Clark suggests hanging a festive apron on a hook.

Put forks and spoons to use by creating a small themed tree for the kitchen. Hang utensils and other lightweight kitchen items from a small, tabletop tree and place it on the counter or island. Use a water pitcher in place of a vase and fill it with holly boughs, or fill a fruit bowl with colorful glass balls.

If you prefer to stick with a traditional decor, Clark suggests using textiles to update a room's look. Add a festive holiday runner to the kitchen island or buy a few cheap red throw rugs or cafe curtains. Holiday pot holders or towels are another quick fix.

For a slightly more ambitious project, Clark recommended changing out

the knobs and handles on

the kitchen cabinets with sparkly gold or lacquered brass choices.