These Christmas Decorating Ideas Will Inspire You to Bring the Beauty of the Season Home
Everyone loves decorating for Christmas. Grab your garland and get ready for wreaths, because here, the editors of Southern Living share some of their favorite new ideas for Christmas decking the halls. These decorating ideas for your mantel, front door, mailbox, Christmas tree, and more will surely fill you with Christmas cheer and get you into the holiday spirit. We show you how to give a twist on tradition with handmade willow-branch wreaths that you can use inside or out. We give inspiration for greeting guests in memorable Southern style, going festive with placecard holders as you welcome your guests to a beautiful holiday meal, and giving your dining table a vivid focal point. There are options for every type of decorator to take advantage of old, new, and even handmade decor. However lavish or simple your Christmas decorating style, these ideas will help you bring the beauty of the holiday to every corner of your home.
Give Old Favorites New Life
Look for ways to maximize what you already have. It isn't necessary to buy all-new decor. You can reuse elements—like ribbons, ornaments, bells, or potted plants—year after year to mingle with your new seasonal finds.
Make Your Own Sparkly Topper
Christmas is a time for fun and festivities– don't let your tree get too caught up in serious tradition! For homemakers looking to try something a little more glamorous, this sparkly Christmas decoration is the perfect way to add drama to your treetop. To make your own tree topper, bundle together a group of curly silver sticks from your local craft store, and wire the creation to the top of your tree. Decorate the rest of your tree with bright, equally glitzy colors like hot pink and gold. This is a perfect Christmas tree for a younger home. Bonus? The sparkly topper is a great New Years Eve decoration, too!
Lean on What Lasts
Let ribbons, not cut flowers, be your big Christmas splurge. They're reusable, unfussy, and an easy way to add color to greenery in passthrough spaces like the entry.
Accent a Collection
Bring Christmas to every corner of your home. Look for out-of-the-way display areas, such as the top of a chest, to add sparkle and shine. Whether your vignette stays up year-round—like this collection of mercury glass—or is seasonal, keep the fluffing simple so it doesn't compete with the collection. Just cut appropriate lengths of greenery, like fresh magnolia, boxwood, pine, fir, winterberry, and American cranberry bush berries to fit vessels. Add them to about half of the vases as to not overpower the beauty of your collection. Echo the elements of green and red by threading holly berries across your furniture, and hanging a wreath from a strategically-located point on the wall.
Twice as Nice
Drape greenery and berries on lights; keep them away from bulbs for safety.
Draw Them In
Whether guests arrive through the front or back door, make every entry inviting. A perch for removing boots can be a place to gather packages. Mudroom cubbies can display small collections, favorite ornaments, and family heirlooms.
Make a Poinsettia Tree
To create a poinsettia tree, follow these instructions: First, cut the larger blooms, leaving about 6 inches of stem. Sear them quickly to stop sap from dripping out. Sap should bubble under the candle flame, and the ends of the stems will turn black. You may also need to sear the points where larger leaves were removed along the stems. Insert each seared stem into a water-filled florist tube. Stems are hollow and will absorb water after being seared. Place the stems into the base of the ivy topiary. Then repeat this process with the medium-size and smaller poinsettia blooms, cutting the stems so they're about 4 inches long. Insert blossoms into the topiary, working your way toward the top. Once it's complete, care is simple—just add water to the tubes every few days, as needed.
Glitz and Glimmer
Put your tree lights on a dimmer to ensure a lovely glow and pair with meaningful family ornaments for a tree that's all your own.
Pile On the Plaid
Plaid is not just for school uniforms and collared shirts. Use plaid as a theme for your Christmas decorations for a classic, old-school take on holiday cheer. To avoid overloading on one pattern, don't be afraid to mix and match plaids of varying sizes and scales. Start with a transparent plaid garland, and decorate with metallic, solid-colored ornaments. The easiest and most budget-friendly way to incorporate plaid into your Christmas is by using the gifts under your tree as decorations themselves. Choose 2-3 plaid patterned rolls of gift wrap, and 1-2 solid patterns in complimentary colors. Mix and match ribbons on each gift for a layered presentation of presents.
Set a Holiday Scene In Your Outdoor Room
Do not limit your decorations to the inside of your house or your front porch; take advantage of the South's mild winters. Bring decorative Christmas cheer all the way out to your backyard. This warm and cozy backyard retreat is beautifully decorated for the Christmas season, and serves as a perfect place to cozy up with a blanket on a brisk winter night. A beautiful Christmas tree takes center stage, spun in classic red garland and gold lights. The mantle is adorned with fresh, aromatic greenery. A simple evergreen wreath above the fireplace completes the stunning scene. Stock your outdoor bar, and light a blazing fire for a cozy outdoor gathering.
Elegant and Easy Embellishments
Tie pinecones and berries with a velvet bow in a contrasting tone.
Suspend the Tree Topper
Add an unexpected detail to a monochromatic Christmas tree by hanging your tree topper from the ceiling. First, choose a shape that plays off your Christmas ornaments, as this round paper lantern mirrors the round ornaments on the tree. Attach a ceiling hook right above your tree's tallest point. Float the lantern by hanging it from a bow attached to the hook. For added impact, attach cascading ribbon or garland from the bottom of your hanging tree topper. This modern Christmas tree decoration idea makes a big impact without appearing over-decorated or tired, and will stand out among the rest in creativity and originality.
Celebrate Family in Meaningful Ways
Display seasonal family treasures front and center. Here, needlepoint stockings, family keepsakes, are displayed along the mantel.
Cheer Up Your Entry Way
Pressed for time but want a big show to greet guests and carolers on your holiday front porch? Fit a 7-gallon magnolia into a decorative planter, and fill in around the edges with spray-painted magnolia branches and sprigs of seeded eucalyptus – we chose red, but gold or silver stuns as well. After the holidays, plant the magnolia in the garden for a year-round token of holiday cheer. Designed to come together quickly and with limited hands-on prep, this Christmas look is easy to tailor for various preferences. Change the plants or colors to suit your taste – Poinsettias are always a good substitute.
Pull Up a Chair
No fireplace? No worries. Hang a stocking from every seat at the table. Use pretty ribbons and double-sided, industrial strength tape to keep the stockings hung behind dining chairs with care.
Beautiful presents can double as festive decorations.
A white brick Colonial is a stately canvas for holiday decorating. The wreaths, swags, garlands, and gate decoration took a color cue from the home's green-black shutters and bright copper lanterns.
Bring on the Brilliant Berries
For a mix of traditional and modern, use mercury glass teardrop vases to hold bright holly berries, available from florists and garden shops. Leaning on warm orange and red hues, we added some mandarins and pomegranates for texture, color, and fragrance. Kept in fresh water, the berries should last up to three weeks.
Get Festive With Place Card Holders
When it comes to Christmas decoration, a good rule of thumb is that more is better. While there are obvious limitations to this saying, we firmly believe that when you get the chance to incorporate a unique holiday detail into your Christmas décor, you should. Instead of displaying dining room name cards on simple card holders, make them festive! Pictured above, the holiday hostess enlisted her childhood collection of Steinbach nutcrackers to hold gold-scripted place cards that match the holiday dinner menu cards. Use a gold paint pen for metallic penmanship, and adorn the top with a gold foil holly sprig.
Make an Entrance
Make your entrance inviting for all. Dress the back staircase with a garland of pinecones, greenery, and ribbons of alpine blue.
Create an Evergreen Centerpiece
Bring the Christmas forest inside your house with this rustic, homey Christmas arrangement. Use a footed silver serving tray to display a sumptuous centerpiece with vintage ornaments and clippings from the garden. Start with Southern classics: boxwood, pine, and magnolia. Next add large ball ornaments, followed by crocosmia pods, pinecones, and abelia whose flowers have dropped, leaving a showy flourish of pink sepals on the tips of branches. Finish with delicate sprigs of evergreens, dried shelf mushrooms attached to florist picks. Wire a few small, round ornaments of natural colors with in metallic and glossy finishes for a subtle touch of glamour.
Top Your Mantel with Winter Blooms
Maintaining a quality collection of fluted vases, julep cups, and chalices makes it easy to display (and replace) choice blooms throughout the season. Update your mantel with winter blooms. The foliage base will take you well past New Year's; and the flowers will last five days. To create this look, begin with a base of silver artificial garland. Then tuck in layers of two kinds of fresh eucalyptus (silver dollar and seeded), as well as dusty miller placed in water tubes. Add silver brunia, white ranunculus, star of Bethlehem, 'Sahara' roses, eucalyptus pods, succulents, and snowberries to vases and along the mantel.
Pump Up What's There
Boost the existing bones of your interior decor with seasonal decor. Nestle your existing vases into mantel garland, for example.
Think of a Novel Idea
For a hint of holiday flair with a literary touch, put spare paperbacks to work by stacking them into a Christmas tree. It's a wonderfully whimsical touch to a mantle or bookshelf.
Extend a Warm Welcome
Our favorite way to light up any season is a brilliant array of paper luminaries. Line them up along your front walkway, along your driveway, or scatter them on your porch for a bright, twinkling Christmas display that's so simple and affordable to pull off. You can buy premade luminaries in bulk online, or make your own using white paper bags, pebbles, and battery-powered LED candle lights. After gathering your supplies, place a handful of pebbles in the bottom of your paper bag so it is less likely to blow away or fall over. Using your fingers, clear a place for the LED light (turned on) to rest. Wait until its dark out, and you have a glowing luminary to light up your drive.
Choose a Gift Wrapping Style
The bigger your Southern family, the harder it is for you to find and purchase personalized gifts for everyone. If you don't have a spectacular gift – or even if you do! – the best way to make your gift more exciting is by spending a little more time on the packaging. These creative Christmas wrapping ideas are perfect for any gift. Choose a theme – traditional, natural, vintage, glitzy, coastal, or rustic – you can't go wrong. Purchase small trinkets for decorative touch, like the wooden reindeer, glittery initial, cotton clipping, or bell and ornament pictured above. By layering paper, ribbon, and tags, you can create a picture-perfect package.
Consider Cool Jewel Tones
Pussy willow adds some height to a simple arrangement of pine branches with cones, displayed in an antique blue pickle jar. (Find these online or at thrift stores.) A turquoise ribbon complements the colored jar and the decorative Christmas trees. The limes accentuate the green tones from the branches and connect them to the base, a large pewter tray that offers a bit of shimmer without the shine of silver.
Let the Tree Tell Your Story
Adorn your tree with meaningful ornaments, like these which were collected during the family's travels. Finish your design with cascading blue and red velvet ribbons.
Entertain with Bold Red Accents
Muted colors with printed seasonal menus and gold ribbons pair wonderfully with pops of Christmas reds.
Match Gift Tags to Your Color Scheme
A true Southern decorator knows just how important a well-wrapped gift is, and you will never catch us wrapping our gifts in computer paper. For family gatherings, make the exterior of your gifts look just as good as the presents that lie inside. The bonus is that, until you give the gifts to their recipients, they will add class to your living room while they wait under your tree. Pair preprinted gift tags that reinforce your Christmas decorating scheme with boxes wrapped in chocolate and metallic papers to add character under the tree. Write the recipient's name on the back of the tag for functionality.
Welcome with Wreaths
Greenery can make a big impact, even outside. Add matching wreaths with ribbon to each window of your home, and don't forget the doorway. Make an extra special entry by creating an evergreen border to your front door.
Decorate with Family Heirlooms
The next time you are handed down a beautiful piece of family furniture from an elder, don't forsake it because you don't have the room. Save these heirlooms for seasonal occasions, and use them in your Christmas decorating. Showcase them during the most wonderful time of the year by putting them on display. This mahogany buffet may not be useful all year round, but during the holiday season, it is a perfect place to serve Christmas brunch. It fits perfectly into a niche built just for it. Update the pieces with modern accessories, such as a pair of mod white lamps, which help a traditional piece of furniture blend seamlessly with more modern tastes.
Nestle evergreen clippings in a bar cart for fresh accents.
Wow with Regional Touches
Hang pine garland, velvet bows, pinecones, and pheasant feathers along your banister for an entry guests won't soon forget.
Welcome Guests in Memorable Southern Style
Upgrade your entryway by twirling topiaries with fruit. Start with two bonbon compotes. Hot-glue sheet moss to a plastic-foam cone. Stick florist clay adhesive to the bottom of the compote, and press the cone onto it. Attach a row of green plums (or Key limes) by skewering with a wooden pick and inserting into cone in an upward swirl. Glue scabiosa pods and dried hydrangea blossoms next. Repeat. Skewer a pineapple (spray-painted gold) with a wooden pick, and insert into top of topiary. Try spray-painting the dried hydrangeas white for an elegant touch.
Get Creative with Gift Tags
Save money and add a personal touch by making your own Christmas gift tags. Kids love getting to craft their own unique tags. Pictured above, the crafty holiday homemaker used a color copier to make copies of tartan fabric, and then cut the copies it into rectangles to create each patterned gift tags. You can also print background patterns from the Internet and make simple designs using your computer. Type or handwrite names in the center. Add ribbons and bells to dress up each gift. Choose wrapping paper and patterns that match your room's décor, as these gifts will be waiting under the tree for the whole Christmas season.
Bring Comfort and Joy
Bottle trees and a bit of greenery zip-tied to the bamboo headboard shift the guest room into festive mode without much upkeep.
Savor Travel Memories
Extend the festivities to empty corners. A framed collage of pages from expired passports sets an adventurous backdrop for a colorful tree decorated with garland and accents inspired by far-flung locales.
This designer Christmas décor secret is ingenious, easy, and cheap. Cluster small ornaments together for an extravagant impact. Small ornaments can easily get lost on a busy tree amid the sparkling lights and merry garland. Using thread or fishing wire, simply thread a cluster of ornaments together and tie to make an eye-catching arrangement. Hang them on your tree sporadically for shiny upgrades – we love adding a bell or two for some jingle. Incorporate the same individual small ornaments throughout the tree to echo the larger displays. You can also hang these festive ornamental clusters around your house, such as on wreaths or from your mantel.
Bring In the Greens
Play up one color for extra impact. We paired clear glass containers with fruit, foliage, and ribbon in a fresh shade for an unexpected display. Arrange camellia branches in one water-filled vase and naked seeded eucalyptus in another. Place a mound of apples beneath a glass bowl. Accent with contrasting ornaments and tiny battery-powered fairy lights.
Set Out Small Seasonal Displays
Place ornaments and antlers in a versatile vessel, like an antique dough bowl, anywhere around the house for a small dose of cheer. It works wonders on an entry table or atop a mantel.
Make a Merry Mailbox Topper
This simple Christmas decoration is an easy way to spruce up your front yard for the holiday season, and comes together with only a few supplies that you may already have on hand. Top off a square brick mailbox with an abundance of bouquet winter plants. Fill a wide, shallow planter with an arrangements of bouquet winter plats like pansies, flowering cabbage, cedar, fir, lavender, and rosemary. We trimmed ours to resemble a Christmas tree. Tuck in spare ornaments in contrasting colors, like deep red and metallic gold. Add pinecones to fill gaps and add texture. Finish your mailbox with a satin bow.
Put Out the Good Stuff
The winning table formula of family silver + a hit of color + inexpensive grocery store flowers is just as effective now as at any other time of year.
Try a Two-Piece Wreath
If you want to get the look of a single warm, welcoming holiday wreath, but have a double-door entry, do not fret. Instead of forgoing the whole idea, consider using a two-piece wreath to adorn a double-door entry. Make your own by starting with a wreath that has a sturdy base so it will hold its shape. We used fresh evergreen here, but a grapevine wreath will work just as well. Cut the wreath in half, lengthwise, with sturdy wire clippers. Use florist wire to attach evergreen clippings, fruits, and ribbons. Securely hang half of the wreath on each door so the two meet in the center with the doors are closed.
Display Christmas Lanterns
In a pinch for a festive, company-worthy way to decorate your doorstep this holiday season? Greet guests in style by arranging a grouping of festive candleholders and lanterns at your entryway for quick and easy holiday style. We love this technique because it is very versatile. Choose lanterns and sconces that you already have lying around your house for a cozy, mismatched look. Or, purchase matching sets in elegant shades of gold and deep reds for a more upscale effect. Arrange large, sturdy candles for a warm glow, and strategically place wrapped gifts for Christmas spirit. Consider using flameless candles as a worry-free alternative to regular pillars.
Dress Up the Evergreens
You can take your layered evergreens up a notch by combining them with vibrant flowers and fresh greenery.
Spread Cheer Outdoors
Low-care (or no-care) plants set the scene while placing a wreath front and center crowns an outdoor area in complementary cheer. Add a garden-friendly centerpiece by dropping paperwhites into a pine needle basket.
Prep a Festive Scene
Set your tablescape early in the season to give you a nice daily reminder to your countdown to Christmas dinner. Layer green and white linens, seasonal candles, red flowers, and small dishes filled with cranberries for a setting that will help your anticipation grow.
Wow with Winter Whites
Creamy white ceramics make great vessels for holiday blooms. We've mixed holly, cedar, and privet berries with white amaryllis and lime green mums. Start with foliage, placing the largest pieces first to establish the size of your display. Add flowers and berries one stem at a time to form a triangle of amaryllis, mums, and berries. Fill in with more greenery, and skirt your vase with colorful packages and ornaments.
Cheer Up Outdoor Spaces
Don't neglect outdoor patios and porches in your Christmas decorating. Because we live in the South, our winters are much more mild, and we can use our screen porches all the way through the Christmas season. Decorate your outdoor spaces with wreaths, candles, and large glowing orbs to draw guests outside to cozy up by the fire. This understated yet festive outdoor spaces is perfect for casual gatherings. We love the rustic candlesticks seen on the table of this back porch. And while these red chairs are functional year round, when taken among all the festive Christmas decorations displayed during the holiday season, they begin to resemble cheery sleighs.
String Lights and Greenery
When it comes to decorating the front of a house for the holidays, we absolutely love wrapping Christmas lights around all of the columns on a stately home's front porch. However, the dark green wires often distract from the elegant twinkle that we desire. Disguise those unsightly wires from string lights by winding them around a column or post with Christmas greenery or garland. Personalize the garland by attaching spray-painted pinecones and metallic ornaments with fishing line. Finally, set out a pretty container of ornamental cabbage or kale at the base. To add an additional pop of color, a potted Poinsettia also looks great.
Shift out of Neutral
Lovers of neutral décor will love this metallic take on holiday decorating. Elegant, yet far from overwhelming, this metallic Christmas tree theme is perfectly understated yet fancy enough for even a formal holiday gathering. Create an opulent feel without overwhelming the space by decorating your Christmas tree with sophisticated metallic shades. The limited color scheme of silver, gold, and bronze is both classy and timeless. Minimal pops of green and red bring festive Christmas cheer, while the dominant colors of silver and gold make the tree sparkle with subtle yet eye-catching flair. Choose icicle-style lights to wrap the tree to emulate diamonds.
Make a Statement with Peacock Feathers
In lieu of the traditional reds and greens of holiday flowers, use bright peacock feathers on your mantel as a statement piece. First, select a neutral container for the feathers – we chose this concrete plant box as a solid foundation. Place a block of floral foam inside of the container, and then arrange peacock feathers in a whimsical pattern. Add a few curly willow branches to add dimension in the back. Arrange round mirror ornaments in the base of the container to hide the floral foam and compliment the room's Christmas decorations. We suggest using this edgy arrangement to compliment other nontraditional design elements.
Choose Colors That Match Your Décor
Just because large department stores seem to explode in bright reds and greens during the Christmas season does not mean that you have to completely hide your house's existing décor when decorating for the holidays. Instead, plan your Christmas decorations so that the décor works with, rather than hides, your existing décor. Even if it means using unexpected colors, like cream and beige, a room with well-incorporated decorations looks classy and expensive. Accents in shades of gold and silver blend seamlessly with this room's soft white-and-ivory color scheme and play off the tones of other metallic accessories, like the coffee table.
Hang a Blooming Basket
Who says you have to wait until spring to decorate your porch with flowers? Spread Christmas cheer by greeting guests with a bright arrangement of seasonal paperwhites. Paperwhites belong to the daffodil family, and will flower indoors at any time of year. They are incredibly easy to grow and maintain, as they don't even need soil to grow. Just place the paperwhite bulb in enough water to cover the lower portion of the bulb. While growing the paperwhites, keep the bulb in a warm indoor spot that sees lots of sun. If you water them regularly, they will flower in a month or so. After blooming, paperwhites last longer when placed in a cool spot out of direct sunlight. Arrange the blooms along with heather, juniper, and moss in a planter and hang it directly on your front door.
Wrap Your Coffee Table
No, we are not telling you to wrap your coffee table in wrapping paper. Rather, get creative and upgrade your living area by wrapping a coffee table in belts of festive Christmas ribbon. Transform your coffee table into a Christmas present by crisscrossing strands of ribbon over the top and sides of the table, like you would when wrapping a gift. To avoid over-decoration, choose a neutral ribbon color that is close to the color of the table, and wrap loosely. Add festive centerpieces, like spray painted pine cones, and metallic family heirlooms to add sparkle to the elegant decoration.
Fill Cylinders with Ornaments
For a tasteful, intricate, and slightly minimalist Christmas display, fill transparent glass cylinders with painted holiday objects. Use spray paint to add a shimmery touch to pinecones, acorns, or round glass ornaments. A metallic color scheme is displayed above; however, we also love this idea using rich red and deep green, or ice blue and white – it just depends on your home's color scheme. Display these tall decorations en mass, on a dining table, coffee table, or even a demilune. Large glass vases look fabulous when arranged on a windowsill. This do-it-yourself Christmas decoration is easy to make, yet results in a classy, elegant final product.
Use All Glittering Ornaments
Create a unified and sophisticated alternative to mismatched Christmas ornaments with glittering balls and stars in various finishes. Try this glittering ornament idea in a little girl's room – you can have so much fun with bright and glitter pinks, greens, and light blues. While you can collect glittery Christmas ornaments from seasonal shops, this decoration idea is also very easy to do yourself. Buy a variety of unfinished ornaments from your local craft store, and select a few festive shades of fine glitter. Adhere the glitter to the ornaments using adhesive spray, Mod Podge, or color-coordinated paint. Experiment with patterns for more intricate details.
Drape the Bannister
Take advantage of your beautiful banister. Drape festive green winter garland up the handrail of a staircase, and anchor it with metallic gold or rich red bows for a Christmas welcome in your foyer. When anchoring the garland to your banister, make sure that you select a ribbon with wire trim. The wire trim will ensure that the ribbon maintains a stiff bow shape that lasts throughout the season. For added sparkle, string white icicle lights up the banister. Wind the spiral tightly around the base of your stairs as a festive finishing touch. Add aromatic clippings from your Christmas tree for a cheery bonus!
Put Out Pretty Pillows
Quickly take your everyday living area to Christmas village by swapping out your basic throw pillows for festive, holiday-themed pillows. This quick fix is an inexpensive and easy way to redecorate a room and change the entire room's look for the Christmas season. Find pillows at a local interior design shop, or whip up your own from festive holiday fabric. Although pillows are small, they shape a room's atmosphere. By adding Christmas pillows to a room, you can forgo other holiday decorations and save time. This photo features holiday decorating by Chris Carter of Christopher Glenn, Inc. We found our pillows from Judy Ross Textiles at judyrosstextiles.com.