A Holiday Home: Simple, Chic Decorating Tips

I plan to bring a pared-down approach to this year’s holiday decorating.

Not to sound like the Grinch, but it’s become more labor-intensive to decorate during the holiday season. It started with the simple stringing of lights around the windows, followed by the roofline and trees. The job of dressing the house with the finest greenery and decorations has become very complicated. Sometimes, when the decorations come out, the tree goes up, the table is organized and the presents are wrapped under the tree, it can feel a little bit cluttered in our home. I want our house to be filled with holiday cheer, the smell of pine and cinnamon brings smiles to our faces as we sip eggnog next to a roaring fire. This year I plan to make it simple and elegant so the aesthetic will work better with my current design, and to avoid feeling overwhelmed with work during a busy season. Here are some simple, stylish tips to create a festive tone while leaving time for cooking, shopping and visiting with friends and family.

As I unpack dozens of our tree ornaments, I realize my collection has grown over time. Many of them are family heirlooms, or antique mercury glass or simply interesting finds we picked up at shops over the years. Each ornament tells a story, and it’s fun to look them over individually, but after they’ve all been hung on the tree, the branches look weighed down. Rather, I decide to first group them together in color categories. I’ll then bring out my crystal and glass-footed bowl collection and arrange the ornaments in the bowls by color, displaying the glass bowls across my mantel, cascading down the dining table and greeting guests from the center front hall table. As an alternative to footed glass bowls, a collection of hurricane lamps or glass vases would work just as well.

Another simple holiday decorating idea to help set a pretty table is to gather maple or oak leaves and holly branches from the yard. I plan to use the leftover, small pumpkins from Halloween. I spread them out over newspaper and, using a can of silver or gold paint, spray them outdoors. Within minutes they dry and are transformed into glittery works of art. To create personalized table placeholders, I use a metallic red or green marker and write each guest’s name on the leaves. A gold or silver leaf-and-branch set on a pretty white plate is easy to make and creates an instantly elegant design.

Because my ornaments will now be busy holding court on display, this will allow us to use more creativity when decorating our tree. This year, I plan to create a homemade-looking crafty and natural tree. It’s a perfect opportunity to get the kids involved. We will make a simple, cutout snowflake garland and string popcorn and cranberries. On etsy.com I found many bargains for crafty holiday decorating. This year would be a perfect time to bring out the boxes of the kids’ artwork we have stashed away, collecting dust. I plan to select smaller works of their art from nursery through grade school, punch a small hole on top, then string large black velvet ribbon and arrange around the tree. This year I bought a collection of vintage-looking, tiny ornaments shaped like candles with clasps for attaching onto the branch tips, which will finish off the tree nicely with an old-fashioned feel. These activities are easy and fun, plus it’s a chance to get the whole family involved. It becomes a sentimental way to create a personal tree.

Instead of using many busy patterns of conflicting wrapping paper to giftwrap our presents, I plan to buy a solid paper in cost-saving bulk size. In order to add ornamentation, I will tape or glue some of the extra gold or silver leaves, holly and pumpkins I had painted to each gift. I may add some of the leftover paper snowflakes to some of the boxes as well. With this color scheme, and using some of the items from the tree, the look will be soothing, festive, yet simple and inexpensive to boot. Best of luck with the holiday decorating this year!

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