Decorating for the Holidays

Ho, Ho, Ho. For many, decorating can be a gleeful and full of excitement and fun. For some, it’s the dreaded untangling of lights, broken ornaments and cleaning up pine needles. Here are some tips for easy decorating that won’t break the bank or your sanity!

Start with a clean slate

My first suggestion is actually to start the decorating process by making room for the new elements. When I take my decorations out of storage, I exchange them for my existing accessories. In this way my home doesn’t feel cluttered just because I want to make my home more festive.

Think out of the box

It’s not unusual to fall into old familiar habits and go back to our “safe place” when it comes to our holiday decorating. My suggestion is to take a different approach each year and start with a clean slate. Consider rotating decorations to different rooms and create new themes. Change your traditional red bows to a new color, especially if the old ones are looking tired.

Keep it simple

As nostalgic people, we have a tendency to feel like we need to display every ornament and decoration in our possession. We get into habits that can feel boring year after year. But I like to mix things up each year and I even give some of my decorations a rest and save them until the next year. This way they seem more special the following year or I realize that I might not want to replace them with something new.

Wreaths are not just for your front door

I have several different sized and themed wreaths and I use them to decorate walls and windows as well as doors. By the very nature of their origins wreaths become very personal just by what they are made from. Consider adding your own personal touch to make them even more special. 

Try this simple idea - Wishing Wreath - hang an unadorned twig wreath in a spot where guests can’t miss it. Set out red Magic Markers and small plain cards on a table next to it. Post a little sign asking visitors to scribble a greeting or a wish for the upcoming New Year, along with their names, and have them slip the notes into the wreath.

Sparkle and color make for common ground

If your decorations seem disjointed, try some areas of simple color and sparkle to bridge the gap. I like to use large glass jars and cylinders filled with ornaments as an equalizer in rooms with a variety of decoration styles.  You can use just silver and gold for a more neutral palette or add color if you want more pop.

Let there be light

With LED lighting becoming readily available in so many different forms, it’s easy to incorporate special lighting touches to any space. And since they use less power than traditional twinkle lights, battery powered strands can last longer. One of my favorite new options are the wires with integrated LED “mini-lights”. They are so small and flexible that I was able to weave them into a large round basket tray that stands behind my nativity scene. This little halo of light transformed the scene and gave it a whole new light! (PHOTO)

Create a warm welcome for guests

You don’t need to go crazy on your exterior lighting to make a statement. Consider a more traditional approach and generously cover the bottom of white paper bags with sand, which will keep them sturdy and stationary when exposed to the elements. Arrange bags in desired positions (the luminaries lining the walk above at left all 2 feet apart), and then insert tea lights or battery-operated LEDs. See sample here. This is a special tradition in Historic Bethlehem on a dedicated night to jump start the holiday season. 

Scents and sounds of the season

Finally, don’t forget the other senses when decorating for the holidays. Let visitors jingle all the way into your home - tie big silver bells to the front doorknob with festive ribbon. And once they’ve arrived use the simple addition of scented candles or pine cones to keep the holiday mood going all night long!

Kate Elfatah