Holiday Decorating Ideas: How to Style Your Home for the Holidays
This time of year, you may find yourself humming along to festive tunes with nostalgia-inducing scents wafting from the kitchen. While dusting off holiday traditions, unearthing holiday decor from the attic, and reminiscing about holidays past are always things to look forward to, it feels more important than ever to make your home feel festive and warm this year. That’s where a few of our favorite holiday decorating ideas come in.
Whether you’re searching for Christmas decoration ideas or for general winter decor ideas to add seasonal warmth to your interior spaces, our design team is serving up all things holiday home decor. In this article, we’ll share how we style our clients’ homes (and our own) for the holidays.
Holiday Door Decorations
In making a plan for your holiday home decor, a natural place to start is the front door. So how to decorate a door for Christmas and the holidays? When it comes to front door decor, the adage “less is more” rings true. Keep holiday door decorations simple by hanging a fresh evergreen or magnolia wreath. Wreaths are a timeless holiday decorating idea that will never go out of style. (The tradition of hanging a wreath dates back to the 16th century, alongside the origins of Christmas-tree-decorating itself.)
How to Hang a Wreath
To hang a wreath, use a functional wreath hanger and hide it with a simple ribbon. Or, skip the door hanger entirely and opt for a sturdy, classic ribbon to affix your greenery. To secure the wreath, simply tack your ribbon up and over the door, securing it on the inside. Other easy ways to hang a wreath on a door include:
- Command Hooks: These are easy to apply and to remove, and many can bear a surprising amount of weight (always double check the weight of your wreath before hanging).
- Suction Cups: For those who have glass doors or smooth surfaces, suction cups are a great way to hang an outdoor wreath. Bear in mind that changing temperatures and excessive moisture can impact the effectiveness of the seal over time.
- Hammer and Nail: Hammering a small nail to your door is a simple and straightforward option for securing your wreath to a wooden door. Keep in mind that this will leave a small mark that may need to be touched up once removed.
- Wreath Door Hangers: An easy way to hang a wreath without leaving marks on your door is to use a functional wreath door hanger. There are a multitude of options available, from pared-down models to elaborate, decorative designs.
- Ribbon: A timeless, unwired ribbon is our favorite way to hang a holiday wreath. You can also opt to coordinate the color and pattern you use to complement your wreath’s color scheme.
- Door Knocker: If you have a sturdy door knocker, you can also affix a wreath to the door by tying a small ribbon to the door knocker handle. Opt for unwired ribbon, and let gravity settle the ribbon for a natural look.
Another way to dress up your doorway is by hanging garland and lights around the molding. Garland is a go-to element we use for decorating both indoor and outdoor spaces at the holidays. When hanging garland in a doorway, simplicity is key. The best way to hang garland on a doorway is to pare down the look with an elegant draping of swag cedar garland and holiday lights. This timeless pairing is a look you can turn to year after year.
Vintage Sleigh Bells
For more holiday door decorating ideas, consider a playful set of vintage sleigh bells. A classic set hanging from the door knocker offers a festive greeting for anyone who enters your home. The iconic rustle of bells and their antiqued patina is an instant tug on heartstrings for nostalgists everywhere.
Holiday Table Decor
Our favorite holiday decorating ideas come at the gathering focal point: the holiday table. Creating a holiday tablescape is a perfect way to set a festive mood atop console tables, sideboards, coffee tables, or even spanning the length of a dining room table for holiday meals. When creating holiday table décor, we like to think of the process like building a story: anchoring the table with a basic theme, adding a few key, repetitive pieces, and layering in two or three larger candles for warmth and glow. Below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to decorate a dining room table for the holidays.
1. Select a theme or color palette.
Are you mad for metallics? A classic who vies for reds and greens? Or, perhaps you’re drawn to a more neutral winter palette of ivory and cream. Whatever your style may be, create a uniform theme you’ll love to live with for the duration of the holiday season.
2. Begin with a base.
Start with freshly pressed linens as your base layer. Choose a tablecloth in a neutral color, then add a runner for a pop of color that aligns with your palette.
3. Layer, layer, layer.
When creating a holiday tablescape, we recommend taking a similar approach as you would to build a flower arrangement: start with greens and add layers of tabletop decor. Fold in pops of color, pattern, and texture, and anchor your tabletop with a few key, repetitive pieces (think nutcrackers, gnomes, ceramic objects, etc.) along the length of the surface.
As space allows, add seasonal items that speak to the spirit of the holiday, such as pine cones for winter gatherings, or mini gourds and pumpkins for a more autumnal tablescape.
4. Create warmth with candlelight.
There is no more natural way to create a warm holiday glow than with candlelight. We recommend layering candles of differing heights: begin with two large hurricane candles and add shorter votives as it feels natural.
5. Embrace greenery.
We love using fresh greenery for holiday tabletop decor, particularly as it lasts far longer than fresh flowers. Add small green accents throughout your tabletop design for a fresh, natural look.
6. Use ribbon accents.
For napkin rings and other tabletop accents, choose your materials based on the tone of your event. For a more casual table setting that doesn’t require formality, feel free to get creative. Tie a simple napkin ring from a piece of burlap, or spring for a pop of color or playful pattern with a simple ribbon around a linen napkin.
For more formal gatherings, reach for the monogrammed napkin rings you may have received as a wedding gift, or select a decorative metallic ring that complements your table setting.
How to Decorate Stairs for Christmas
Much like a front door, a home’s staircase is a transitional space that benefits from the “less is more” adage. Here is where we again turn to hanging cedar garland — our favorite — and a simple string of lights.
Hanging garland is a perfect way to decorate a staircase for the holidays. In styling our clients’ homes (and our own), we prefer to swag garland rather than to wrap it, creating a section of greenery that widens at the center and tapers at the ends. This builds an elegant draping that offers a timeless and polished look.
Hanging garland is relatively straightforward. When attaching garland to a railing, we recommend using zip ties to secure the greenery to millwork, leaving no marks behind on delicate surfaces. To keep the zip ties hidden from view, you can either adjust the placement of the greenery to overlap with the ties, or reach for a festive ribbon (we find that a two-inch wired ribbon is easiest to secure).
For a pop of color, opt for a velvet ribbon in a luscious shade of burgundy and tie a simple bow at the end of the stair rail. We typically reach for an unwired ribbon, letting the weight of the fabric allow it to drape naturally.
How to Decorate a Living Room
For our next holiday decorating ideas, we turn to the heart of the home: the living room. It is, after all, the primary space for gathering and entertaining. So how to decorate a living room for the holidays? When it comes to Christmas living room decor, it’s about creating a festive atmosphere through layered, seasonal elements.
In decorating a living room for the holidays, similar principles of table styling apply. First, choose a theme or color palette. For inspiration, consider a combination of blue and white for a wintery mix, a palette of ivory, grey and evergreen for a calm, neutral look, or opt for a classic mix of red and white holiday decor. Then, choose a focal point for the room. A fireplace tends to be the center of many living rooms, and is thus a perfect space upon which to build a base. Then, you can really start to play with your Christmas mantle decor.
Christmas Mantle Decor
In considering how to decorate your mantle for the holidays, start by creating a blank canvas to work with. First, swap out the artwork you normally feature over the fireplace. For the duration of the holiday season, opt for a mirror, wreath (or both) as your backdrop. Then, as with other holiday decorating ideas, the same is true for how to decorate a fireplace mantle: layer, layer, layer.
Think of your mirror or wreath as the centerpiece of the mantle. From there, select a theme and create a collection of items to feature. For a cohesive look as you go, try to group similar items or shapes together. (Carolers, gnomes, and nutcrackers can work together beautifully when grouped in an intentional way.) For a festive feel, our design team loves working with glass Christmas trees of varying size, like these from Simon Pearce.
Once you’ve placed your decorative objects, fold in festive Christmas stocking holders for mantles, add in greens throughout, and complete your look with a few votive candles for layers of candlelight. Your mirror will help bounce the light around the room for a cozy glow.
(Tip: If you’re hosting a holiday party or festive gathering, add in greens as you grow closer to the date of the event for optimal freshness.)
Strike up a festive playlist while you’re decorating, and you’ll be in the holiday spirit in no time.