Want to know just how to decorate for the holidays? It’s always easier when you go with your own style and preferences. So, what’s your style: country cabin chic with plaid or burlap ribbon, holly and winterberries, a cranberry and popcorn garland? How about elegant Victorian, with mercury glass ornaments, velvet or lace ribbons, pearl or beaded garlands, candle lights on the tree? Maybe you’re a trendsetter with a fuchsia or neon turquoise color scheme with silver accents and sophisticated silhouettes.
Your holiday home can express themes of your personality and aesthetic, whether contemporary or old-fashioned, or something in-between. Do you love nature and wildlife? Winter outdoors has a certain mystique as illustrated with scarlet cardinals, chickadees, reindeer, turkeys, snow hares and though far from New England, polar bears.
Traditional to Trendy
For the Dickensian look and feel, heirloom or reproduction Victorian cards or illustrations, vintage trees or light-up villages, horse-drawn sleighs can bring a classic Christmas to life. Creches or nativity scenes are centuries old and the tradition of displaying village scenes started in the mid-1800s, and having trains circling the tree began later that century as toy trains were introduced.
Some of your favorite collections can be incorporated into holiday décor, whether menorahs, angels, snowflakes, gingerbread figures, Father Christmas, or nutcrackers. But they don’t have to be holiday-related. Seashells, tea cups, cast-iron banks can find a way to be included in your collection for a one-of-a-kind display.
A traditional homespun Christmas includes bulky knit stockings hung by the fire, hand-strung garlands of cranberries, popcorn and wooden beads or thread spools, pine boughs and garland studded with pinecones.
Or consider a sophisticated style that shimmers with mirror and gold, silver or mercury glass accessories, with a pop of frosted icy blue for accent. Scandinavian holiday décor is elegant in its simplicity, with sparkling snowflakes, glowing tapers, slender birch branches – nothing too fussy about it.
Appropriate to the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah celebrations feature lots of candles (besides the ones in the menorah), and shiny blue, silver and gold (for gelt). Think glow, glam and sparkle with glitter and foils. Mixing the metallic is no problem.
Separate what’s separate!
We don’t advise mixing themes & styles—at least not in the same room. But you could have a formal tree in the living room or parlor and a kids’ tree in the family or great room featuring their decorations, construction paper chains, candy canes and handmade ornaments shedding gobs of glitter. Or put a nature-themed tree on a porch or three-season room.
Fireplaces are focal points, especially in the winter. When designing your mantel display, include items of varying height for interest (paperwhite amaryllis, tall branches or candlesticks). If you have ornamental andirons, brass or black wrought iron for example, pick up the color of the finish in your tableau.
Make sense of scents.
Appeal to all the senses: from fresh pine boughs to fragrant candles, cinnamon and clove cider simmering on the stove, and of course, the music of the season. A memorable scent (like that of evergreens) and favorite carols can transport you and your guests to times gone by. Don’t forget the sense of touch. Even a winter white color scheme can come to life with a variety of textures, from satin to feathers to fur and nubby-knit throws or pillows.
What a lovely surprise!
Part of the fun of the holidays is surprises – from gifts to guests. Include the unexpected to delight family and friends with a whimsical vignette in a powder room, along a staircase, or on a windowsill. Attach sleigh bells to an old ski or snowshoe for the front door. Plop a Santa hat or antlers on that bronze bust or statue.
Love the idea of saving memories? Take plenty of photos before you put things away—whether it’s after Chinese New Year or in time for Valentine’s Day—so you’ll remember next year. (New Englanders love to keep their lights up long after the holidays to fight the early gloom.)
Most of all, enjoy the holidays. If you feel overwhelmed by the thought hauling out dozens of boxes of decorations, just focus on one thing, such as the tree, or a mantelpiece. Then resolve to go through the bins some stormy Saturday, and give away what you no longer use.
Remember, nothing must be perfect—just perfectly you. All of us at 3W design wish you and yours a warm, wonderful holiday season filled with the joy of family and friends.