One Home, Two Holiday Styles
Retro and Bright: The Table Setting
We wanted to create a look inspired by our 50th anniversary, so we played to a more nostalgic note with nods to the past: big bright lights, glittery tinsel, and candy canes.
This proves that a classic china pattern can lighten up for the holidays. We mixed this Spode plate with green and red linens and a striking ranunculus arrangement. Notice there's no plaid in sight. The saturated palette dials down the formality of silver goblets and flatware. Scattered glass ornaments and lights add playful touches. Even the usual stiff nutcracker looks a little more relaxed in this setup.
Today's trimmings just wouldn't cut it. We browsed eBay and bought a full lot of candy-colored ornaments for $50. (Search for "vintage ornaments.") Green felt ribbon garland and pipe cleaner starbursts add drama.
Twist silver pipe cleaners to make a shining "star." Fold each pipe cleaner into a V shape, and nestle two Vs together to make an X. Repeat, adding Vs until you have a completed topper to wire onto the tree.
Solid papers with contrasting ribbons in traditional vibrant holiday colors stand out against the busy, twinkling tree. Have fun with the trimmings by tripling up on ribbons and tying gifts with large King Leo candy canes.
For a bright glow, densely wrap the interior of the tree with small colorful lights. Save the big Charlie Brown-style bulbs (Christmas Lights Set Multi-Color Ceramic, $15.99; amazon.com) for stringing on the outer branches.
The Front Door
Why settle for a standard wreath when you can easily make your own holiday magic? We hot-glued over 75 vintage ornaments onto a wreath form (hobbylobby.com). Vary ornament sizes and colors as you glue along the form.
We swung our premade cypress garland over the curve of the door's fanlight. Then we wired assorted vintage ornaments en masse at the top of the curve (away from traffic) and scattered more down the sides.
Purchase small evergreen trees for your planters, and decorate them like your big indoor tree. We used plastic ball ornaments (rather than vintage or glass) and small beaded garlands and topped the trees with durable red velvet bows.
Fresh and Natural: The Table Setting
Cotton bolls, feathers, antlers, and faux-bois elements create a splendid fresh-from-the-field look.
When you mostly stick with what Mother Nature has given you, you can achieve a quiet yet eye-catching effect. Copper mugs, gold-rimmed glasses (Bunny Williams for Ballard Designs), weighty horn flatware, and a lush floral arrangement elevate the rustic antlers, feathers, and wood-print tablecloth without seeming too precious. A miniature pinecone wreath works double duty as a place card holder and party favor.
This wily, sculptural piece looks more complicated than it is. Stick a cluster of pheasant feathers into a florist foam holder. (Both are available from save-on-crafts.com.) Secure the holder tightly to the top of the tree with wire.
To maintain a rustic vibe, turn natural items—pinecones, feathers, dried pods, silk magnolia blooms, and branches—into tree trimmings. They mingle well with large copper balls and a copper mesh garland ribbon.
Using bright red or patterned papers would have been too cutesy for this setup. For a more polished look, coordinate with the tree and wrap brown and rust-colored packages with solid bronze, copper, and green ribbons.
Small, twinkly white lights just wouldn't have been bright enough for this tree, so we mixed several strands of bistro-style outdoor bulbs. Give your tree skirt the year off, and place the tree in a big wicker basket for a surprising touch.
The Front Door
Give guests a first glimpse of your holiday style with a lush magnolia garland. Drape thick copper ribbon, and then strategically place cotton bolls (to look like a garland), and wire in feathers and ornaments.
Spruce up a premade wreath with seasonal elements. Start by securing a base of magnolia leaves and tree clippings into a florist foam holder. Fill with seedpods, feathers, and cotton bolls. Attach to the wreath with wire.
Go wild with outdoor planters. Fill pots with extra tree clippings that spill over the sides. Spray-paint tall sticks white, and insert them into the planter for height. Pile in the seedpods, feathers, ornaments, and cotton bolls for texture.