Re-use. Occasionally we pick up a new ornament, but even that has slowed down, since we haven’t pulled them out to go on a tree in a few years.
We dig up a small pine and pot it, either rescued from under a power line or we buy it. This year it is a 10 inch tree in an old milk glass pot with star anise, fossilized coral and a small piece of drift wood for decoration. No cost.
One year I bought those window candle lights that are auto-on at dusk and battery powered from the clearance sale at Plow and Hearth. I charge the re-chargeable batteries for all of them (I think we have close to 20) and then place them in the windows to do their thing. This is excellent as there is no risk of them falling down and catching fire, they turn themselves on and off and they are just enough house bling for us.
We go out in the yard/field and cut dried hops and greenery for swags for the doors and stuff. We pull out the holiday dishes and mugs.
Honestly, this year will be less just because after a month of intense care-giving (making it nigh impossible to do our contract work, but we managed), we are leaving for a trip at the end of the week. So, we will be gone this last bit until right before the holidays, when I expect we will pull out some more decor because children will be visiting. So-no cost but some effort.
What would you recommend to make with an energetic 18 month-old? I am thinking about cookies or we may just go outside and wear the tyke out and end with a fire and marshmallows, no matter the snow if it is here.