Ready, Set, Decorate!

From coffee table bouquets to ribbon loops on the tree, this guide will fill your favorite room with holiday cheer.
Sara Anderson

Tackle the Tree
Wind your twinkle lights top to bottom on the tree, and remember, you may want to put the lights and ornaments on your tree and then scoot it into a corner or up against a window so you have more room to work. Need a fun tree skirt? Look for remnants at a fabric store or a holiday table runner at a discount home store.

Give your tree a fresh look by editing your ornaments. Maybe you want a color theme, such as all red and gold; then display the rest around the house. Add fresh flowers in florist vials to your tree, and tie on ribbon loops left over from last year's packages. 

Give Windows Some Green
Who says wreaths can only accent a door? Using florist pins and wire, attach green apples to fresh wreaths (about four per wreath). Hang the wreaths in front of your windows using your choice of wide decorative ribbon.

Add Touches of Red
Look around your room for easy switcheroos. Trade the throw pillows on your sofa for ones in red silk, felt, or suede. Toss a red or green wool throw in the mix. Swap the lampshades you live with all year for ones in a cranberry color (and try a different shape while you're at it). It's an inexpensive purchase that brings classic Christmas color to your space, plus you can use them every year or in other rooms of the house after the holidays.

Dress Up Your Coffee Table
Set the TV remote and magazine stacks aside for something more festive. Set place mats or a table runner on the table, and then top with a flower arrangement. Place water-soaked florist foam in an urn, and fill the foam with whatever flowers, greenery, and berries you have readily available.

Be Sweet
This year, don't just pass by the candy aisle at your local supermarket in an effort to avoid those extra sweets. Instead, let it be a source of inspiration. Place colorful candy sticks in small glass vases or jelly jars. If you're hosting a holiday party, hang candy canes on outdoor wreaths, trees, and garlands and on the rims of wine and martini glasses before guests arrive.

Light Up Your Mantel
Get a holiday glow going with a simple arrangement of candles and mirrors. Group one kind of candle, such as tea lights, tapers, or pillars, together for maximum impact. Wrap ribbon around candleholders. String ornaments from ribbon, and drape them across a mirror. Don't wait for St. Nick to fill them; jazz up empty stockings with greenery.

HOLIDAY STRESS BUSTER: START WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
You don't have to spend a small fortune to lavish the rooms of your home with holiday style. Use items you already have in different ways. Arrange flowers in pitchers and gravy boats on your table. Place votive candles and jingle bells in wineglasses, and arrange on a buffet or across a mantel. Use ribbon and fabric remnants to trim fresh garlands, trees, and wreaths with color.

This article is from the December 2005 issue of Southern Living