Leave the holiday stress to the big houses. Here are three done-in-an-afternoon decorating ideas.

By Zoë Gowen
James Farmer Exterior
There's nothing I love more than breaking out my favorite holiday decorations each year—arranging the wreaths, gussying up the garland, and neatly decking the halls with boughs of holly. But this year—my first in Farmdale Cottage—calls for something extra special.So join me on a tour of my country home that's filled with tips and tricks for decking your own halls in true Southern style.
| Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

Just how many strands of lights did it take Clark Griswold to light the roof of his big Colonial? Probably 3000. Who has time for that? We're exhausted for him. He should have taken cues from his other famous holiday movie friends, the McCallisters and left his home alone over the holidays. Who doesn't want to leave Christmas décor to hotel staffers?

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But, we believe Christmas is really best spent at home – especially when you live in a Christmas cottage. The small proportions make the most charming displays of Christmas decor. Here are three of our favorite, done-in-an-afternoon Christmas cottage ideas.

Be Strategic about Your Christmas Tree Placement

You are already going to the trouble of putting up a Christmas tree for the holidays, so place it near a window in your home that faces the street. Keep the lights on and the blinds open so that it adds the necessary sparkle to your Christmas cottage.

Focus on One Spot

Since cottages are small, you can pinpoint your decorating ideas to one area of your exterior. For the ultimate cottage Christmas décor, we recommend emphasizing your front door. You'll need a wreath and something to drape over the doorway. Since you are focusing on such a little area – go big with color and sparkle.

Keep it All Green

Make one stop through a Christmas tree lot and stock up on all natural greenery wreaths and a swag of garland to hang on the exterior of your house. Select ones that are slightly oversize since they are going on the exterior. (You want them to have impact from the street view.) Don't bother with lights. If company is coming, set out either candles in hurricanes along your front steps or luminaries along the front walk to get that magical glow.