Holiday Decorating Ideas to Embrace the Festive Season

This time of year, you may find yourself humming along to festive tunes with sweet smells 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. For those looking for holiday decorating ideas or 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. 

Winter Door Decorations

Photo by Erwan Hesry via Unsplash.

In creating a plan for your holiday home decor, the front door is a natural place to start. 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. The tradition of wreath-hanging dates all the way back to the 16th century, alongside the origins of Christmas-tree-decorating itself.

To hang a wreath, our design team recommends using a functional wreath hanger and hiding it with a simple ribbon. Or, you can choose to 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.

How to Hang a Wreath

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.

Alternative ways to dress up your doorways are by hanging garland and lights around your doorway. Garland is a go-to element we frequently 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 keep the look simple with an elegant draping of swag cedar garland and holiday lights. This timeless pairing is a look you can turn to year after year.

For more holiday door decorating ideas, consider a playful set of vintage sleigh bells with an antiqued patina to hang from the door knocker for a festive greeting. The iconic rustle of bells is an instant tug on heartstrings for nostalgists everywhere.

Holiday Table Decor

Photo: Jessica Delaney Photography.

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 decor, 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 to styling your table.

  1. Select a theme or color palette.
    Are you mad for metallics? A purist who vies for reds and greens? Or, perhaps you’re drawn to a more neutral winter palette of soft blue and frosty white. Whatever your style may be, create a uniform theme you’ll love to live with for the duration of the holiday season.

  1. 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. 
  1. 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.
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.

  2. 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. 

Staircase Holiday Decorating Ideas

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.

How to Hang Garland

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. For homes that we style for the holidays, we typically reach for an unwired ribbon, letting the fabric drape naturally with the weight of gravity. 

Holiday Mantle Decor

Holiday decorating ideas: holiday mantle decor
Photo: Jessica Delaney Photography.

For ideas on how to decorate a mantle for the holidays, create a blank canvas to work with by swapping out the artwork you normally feature over the fireplace. For the holiday season, opt for a mirror, wreath (or both) as your backdrop. 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, grouping similar items or shapes together for a cohesive look. Carolers, gnomes, and nutcrackers can work together beautifully when grouped intentionally. For a festive feel with a sophisticated sensibility, 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 stocking holders in festive designs, add in greens throughout, and complete your look with a few votive candles for layers of candlelight on either side of your centerpiece. Your mirror will help bounce the candlelight 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.

Additional Resources: Apartment Therapy