13 Ways to Dazzle with Holiday Decor and More
Birmingham designer Iris Thorpe demonstrates how to twirl up a house – inside and out – for the most wonderful time of the year.
Branch Out When Hanging Lights on the Tree
Birmingham designer Iris Thorpe has tried all manner of light-stringing techniques and has determined that nothing compares to wrapping individual branches from trunk to tip. "It's time-consuming," she says, "but when I've taken shortcuts and used nets, someone in the family is inevitably disappointed with the way it looks."
Go Wild with Garland
"There's no place where garlands are off-limits," says Thorpe. In the dining room, she spray-painted branches gold, mixed them with cedar, and tucked them into the chandelier. Stray branches are propped over artwork and mirrors. Even chairs are adornerd: Tiny boxwood wreaths hang from satin ribbons.
Add Sparkle and Shine to the Flowers
"Deciding what to put on the table is a challenge for me, because I have to remember to leave room for the food," laughs Thorpe. She combines sugared fruit (made by dipping fresh apples, pears, and grapes in whipped egg whites, sprinkling them with turbinado sugar, and letting them dry overnight) with flowers and greenery. She also lets shimmery fruit sparkle on its own by displaying pieces on small platters.
Keep Them Guessing with Gift Wrap
"This sprang from my own laziness!" Thorpe says about her ingenious method of wrapping presents: She designates one color of paper per family member and uses that to wrap all of their gifts. The assigned paper is revealed at Christmas Eve dinner, when everyone receives a homemade Christmas cracker made from "their" paper.
Incorporate Family History
Give a nod to sentimental family memories in your décor, like these handmade fleur-de-lis stockings, which are a reminder of when Birmingham desinger Iris Thorpe's family lived in New Orleans.
A Library of Christmas Memories
The cozy little library becomes the family's memory lane of past Christmases.
Relive the Joys of the Past
Birmingham designer Iris Thorpe's collection of holiday cards from years past hangs along a garland draped on her bookshelves. "The kids love to recall each one," she says.
Embrace Faux Wreaths
"I used to buy fresh ones until I realized I could get the same look without the expense," Thorpe says of the preserved set she now uses each year.
Remember the Days of Santa
Old photos of childhood vists with Santa Claus are slipped into silver frames and sprinkled around the house.
Craft Custom Crackers
Thorpe orders cracker snaps at christmas-crackers-usa.com and uses bath tissue rolls for the package. She tucks special gifts inside to open on Christmas Eve.
Display Tiny Trees on Your Tabletops
When it comes to trimming trees, Thorpe decorates all shapes and sizes–yes, the tiny ones too. "My usual rule of thumb is less is best, but when it comes to greenery, I break my own rule," she says. "I put it everywhere!"
Serve Drinks with Flair
Thorpe wasn't about to stash the holiday spirits willy-nilly on the patio to keep them cold. A proper bar cart, set up for impromptu serving, travels easily between patio and screened porch, where friends and family gather for Christmas cheer.
Make a Feast for the Birds
Birmingham designer Iris Thorpe and her two grandsons create holiday bird feeders to tuck into planters filled with greenery and antique ornaments. The boys spread peanut butter all over pinecones and roll them in liberal amounts of birdseed.