100 Fresh Christmas Decorating Ideas
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 decorating. These decorating ideas for your mantel, front door, mailbox, Christmas tree, and more will surely fill you with Christmas cheer. We show you how to give a twist on tradition with handmade willow-branch wreaths that you can use inside or out. We show you how to welcome your guests in memorable southern style, how to go festive with place card holders as you welcome your guests to a beautiful holiday meal, and how to give your dining table a vivid focal point. However lavish or simple your Christmas decorating may be, these ideas will help you bring the beauty of the holiday to every corner of your home.
Try Out These New Holiday Decorating Ideas
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.
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.
Create 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.
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 giftwrap, and 1-2 solid patterns in complimentary colors. Mix and match ribbons on each gift for a layered presentation of presents.
Greet with a Garden Theme
Convey a cozy, cottage welcome with a garden-inspired holiday decorating theme. This casual theme features rustic aluminum containers arranged across the front door, raised porch, and stairs; it is perfect for busy households that see plenty of activity and children during the holiday season. This decorating theme works for both the front and back porches. Make your garden-themed Christmas decoration serve a cheerful purpose by filling the containers with Holiday herbs. Some common Christmas herbs you can grow are myrtle, chervil, borage, lemon thyme, tarragon, bay leaves, spearmint, lavender, oregano, basil, sage, and thyme. Add bright color by planting red amaryllis blooms and berries.
Hang a Paper White 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.
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.
Drape Your Mailbox
Readers with traditionally shaped mailboxes can try this festive way to spruce up a driveway for the holidays. Turn your mailbox into a red and green Christmas tree. Wrap sheer ribbon loosely around a pine garland and drape the garland around the mailbox, securing with a flexible, thin wire or fishing line where necessary. To top off the display, wire clusters of bright Nandina berries to top off the post. Arrange the sheer ribbon in a voluminous bow for the finishing touch.
Note: Nandina berries are toxic to birds and grazing animals, so be sure that you keep them out of the reach of any household pets.
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.
Put Out 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.
Stretch Your Wreath
Give your Christmas wreath a personalized touch by vertically stretching a round wreath to create an oval shape. Choose a wreath with a flexible base that you can easily bend to the shape you desire. This elongated oval shape is perfect for entryways with double doors, as narrower wreaths are less overpowering when arranged in pairs. For another narrow arrangement option for double doors, you can create a door swag from seasonal greenery and flowers, such as poinsettias and Kew Greens. Attach Christmas floral arrangements to PVC pipe with wire, and suspend it above the door using wire secured to eyehooks screwed into the ceiling.
Hang Vintage Ornaments
Sometimes, the best way to decorate a Christmas tree is with memories collected by your family. There is no need to reinvent and repurchase your Christmas tree decorations every year. Instead, stick with the familiar and beloved ornaments that your family has collected and made over the year. Decorating with a variety of themed ornaments will add a personalized touch that standard, matching ornaments cannot compete with; so we are declaring that it is perfectly okay to use the same ornaments every year. Each unique ornament will tell a story, and your Christmas tree will act as a great conversation piece during holiday gatherings.
Create a Stunning Centerpiece
Create a formal and elegant Christmas centerpiece with romantic red roses surrounded by white tallow berries displayed silver vases made to resemble birch bark. We love choosing metallic silver vases, because they reflect the warm, glowing light from candles, the rich reds from flowers, and the patterns on table settings in an elegant, prismatic way. Add texture and dimension by tucking pieces of boxwood garland and sprigs of berries around the base of the vases. Arrange metallic votives around the centerpiece to add romantic lighting to the room. When serving a holiday meal, steer clear from candles with strong scents and let the savory aromas of your meal take the stage.
Tallow Berries: from Flower Depot Store; flowerdepotstore.com
Vases: Bark vases in polished aluminum by Michael Aram; michaelaram.com
Make Your Own Napkin Rings
Take your holiday table setting up a notch with this DIY idea. Make your own custom napkin rings from natural cedar roses. Cedar roses are the open cones of the Deodar Cedar Tree, and can be bought in bulk online. Spray paint each cleaned cedar rose silver or gold, and glue it atop a 2-inch-wide ribbon. We used (and love!) a deep red. Fold over the ends of each ribbon, and secure the ring’s shape using a sewing machine or a hot glue gun. Take care to make the ribbon wide – a tight ring does not look good with the large cedar rose. Tuck in a sprig of boxwood or evergreen for an extra flourish.
Cedar Rose Heads: from Dried Flowers “R” Us; driedflowersrus.com
Here's Our Guide To Cedar Rose Napkin Rings
Take your holiday table setting up a notch with this DIY idea. Make your own custom napkin rings from natural cedar roses.
Decorate Pendant Lights
Can’t you just smell Christmas morning cinnamon rolls baking in this cheery kitchen’s oven? To make your house a Christmas haven, decorate every place you can possibly reach – and then some! Grab a ladder, and dress up pendant lights in a kitchen or over an island with festive evergreen garland. Using wire, simply secure the garland to the extended lights. This decorating idea is especially applicable for houses with entertaining kitchens, as pictured. This open floor plan keeps the cook from being cut off from the festivities on Christmas morning, and is perfect for entertaining. Because guests will be wandering through the kitchen, it is important to decorate it in festive holiday greenery. The kitchen’s lit Christmas tree and glowing Amaryllis pull the entire room together into a bright and cheery holiday kitchen.
Adorn Your Gifts
Because those Christmas presents are already hanging out under your tree for the entire length of the holiday season, why not make them part of your house’s festive decorations? Make your wrapped Christmas packages Pinterest-level-pretty by attaching small tokens to each gift. Some suggested adornments include bells, small ornaments, sprigs of evergreen, glittery snowflakes and holly. The possibilities are endless, and gifts can be customized dependent upon their recipient. For added elegance, make sure that you select wrapping paper and ribbon that match your room’s existing holiday décor. Pick a variety of patterns and colors of wrapping paper, and unify the scheme with the same color ribbon.
Wrapping Paper: from Snow & Graham; snowandgraham.com.
Display an Advent Wreath
During the Christmas season, it is easy to get caught up in the gift-buying, house-decorating, meal-cooking, and dessert-baking. This year, in order to remind your family about the real reason for the Christmas season, incorporate an Advent wreath in your holiday decoration plans. Advent wreaths are an important family Christmas tradition across the entire South, and help keep track of the four Sundays of Advent. Put together a quick and easy Advent wreath by grouping pillar candles wrapped in strands of thread. You’ll need four deep purple and one light pink candle. Arrange the candles in a large wooden bowl filled with dried black-eyed peas, pomegranates, and artichokes.
Make Your Own
Gather some fresh fruits and veggies to add a little color to your diplay.
Add Cheer to 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.
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.
Decorate with 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.
Gold Christmas Trees: from The Great Big Greenhouse & Nursery; greatbiggreenhouse.com or (804) 320-1317.
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.
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.
Glass Cylinder Vases: Crate & Barrel; crateandbarrel.com or 1-800-967-6696.
Metallic Ornaments: Crate & Barrel; crateandbarrel.com or 1-800-967-6696.
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.
Don't Forget the Staircase
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!
Hang Three Wreaths
Whoever said “three’s a crowd” obviously never saw how wonderful and festive three Christmas wreaths look when displayed on a front door during the holiday season. Forgo the traditional single wreath on your porch, and welcome Christmas guests with three miniature wreaths for an understated yet creative take on a Christmas classic. Add a colorful, personal touch by attaching all three wreaths to a long piece of ribbon in the pattern of your choice. Choose smaller wreaths to avoid overcrowding your doorway, but mix and match details on each individual wreath. This design idea is ideal for glass-front doors, as it covers maximum surface area.
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. at (205 870-1236. We found our pillows from Judy Ross Textiles at judyrosstextiles.com
Holiday Decorating: Chris Carter of Christopher Glenn, Inc.; (205) 870-1236.
Pillows (in wing chairs): Judy Ross Textiles; judyrosstextiles.com for retailers or (212) 842-1705.
Group Your Silver
Talk about luxe! This metallic show-stopping arrangement will take your Christmas decorations from homey to Hollywood elegance. Mix and match metallic finishes by grouping all of your metallic dishware in one central cluster. Turn silver and mercury glass vases and candlesticks into festive Christmas accents by arranging them in a mismatched group. Add a few candles into the arrangement, but do not overdo it – just a few candle lights will reflect from their metallic surroundings, and will attract tons of attention (and compliments!). Add a few bright red Christmas berries, such as Holly or Nandina Berries, for a pop of color.
Add Swag to Your Mantel
Swags are not only for doorways and porches. Craft a classic Christmas decorative swag on your mantel out of surprisingly nontraditional materials. Birch bark is one of any decorator’s favorite natural materials – its malleable flexibility and light, beautiful pattern are perfect for many occasions. In this Christmas swag, thin tree branches and birch bark shavings make up the rustic display for a minimalist living room. Red berries and frosted Christmas trees in varying heights lend holiday touches to the natural arrangement, which could be used throughout the fall and winter seasons.
Birch logs: Decorative Birch Logs from J.N. Firewood; jnfirewood.com or 1-800-630-2960.
Put Paperwhites In Your Kitchen
Here are a few of our favorite things! Pretty paperwhite flowers add Christmas cheer to your kitchen. This simple holiday decoration technique is a perfect way to add casual Christmas charm to your kitchen, or any room, using snow-white paperwhite flowers. This easy DIY idea requires only a few materials – Paperwhite bulbs, pebbles, and glassware. Compose an arrangement by planting paperwhite bulbs in everyday glassware and shallow bowls. The bulbs’ size and shape make them perfect for a kitchen countertop or breakfast table. They are also one of the easiest indoor plants to grow. Paperwhites don’t require soil; they can be grown in pebbles and water.
Make a Breakfast Nook
If you are expecting lots of company this Christmas season, you will need lots of places for people to sit, relax, and, most importantly, eat. Create a communal spot for guests to meet for breakfast. Turn an unused corner into a breakfast nook without bringing in a contractor – it’s possible! Create a tiny breakfast nook in the kitchen by fitting an upholstered banquette and a small table in the corner. You will have an ideal spot for your guests to enjoy a quick meal, a cup of steaming coffee or hot chocolate, or a sweet Christmas treat. You’ll be surprised at the ease of this kitchen upgrade, and we bet you will keep it year-round.
Make Your Own Magnolia Wreath
Magnolia garland is one of the most traditional elements in all Southern Christmas decorating. If you have access to magnolia leaves, you can turn your Christmas displays into a modern holiday fairyland by making your own wreath. We’ve given the traditional wreath a modern upgrade by making a square shape. Using magnolia clippings and florist foam wreaths, you can make your own Christmas magnolia wreath – no need for wire or glue! Wide white ribbon secures the wreaths to the ceiling, and keeps the embellishment to a minimum. Square wreaths look particularly sophisticated in a room with square windows, as they compliment the room’s geometric angles.
Magnolia Wreath: Step-by-Step Directions
Hang Twinkling Lights
This gala- worthy Christmas decoration technique is a quick way to upgrade your outdoor patio with glitz and sparkle. Everyone has a few strands of lights left over after decorating their front porches. Use them to spruce up your patio with holiday cheer. Hang the twinkling white lights on a fountain or stone wall in your garden to create a striking winter focal point on your patio or porch. You can also hang lights from an outdoor shed, pool house, or tall fence. Even if it’s too cold to entertain outside, you’re guests will enjoy the soft, cozy glow through the windows.
Make Arrangements Out of Greenery
Save those Christmas-tree clippings! Recycle the simple, fragrant sprigs of greenery by placing them in colorful glass vases or jars for quick and easy coffee table arrangements. For a pop of natural, add sprigs of Holly or Nandina berries to the arrangements. You can even add sparkle by lightly coating the branches in metallic spray paint. Tie ribbon or fabric scraps around the necks of the vases for added cheer. Have each of your children pick their favorite ornaments, and attach using the ties – they will love their mini Christmas trees. Rumor has it, Santa's elves love leaving chocolate squares under these trees in the days leading up to Christmas night.
Sit On Floor Pillows
Create a comfy spot for kids to open presents on Christmas morning by having fluffy and whimsical red-dotted floor cushions or pillows made, monogrammed with children’s names.
Cascading Ribbon Tree
This year, instead of wrapping ribbon around your Christmas tree, let it cascade down. Decorate your tree with long, cascading tendrils of colorful ribbon, rickrack, and pom-pom fringe for a whimsical, colorful, and modern Christmas tree. Search the remnants section of your local fabric-and-trim store for clearance deals on pieces that are at the end of a roll or oddly-sized, and collect them throughout the entire year. Attach the ribbons and trims directly to an embroidery hoop and simply slide over the top of your tree. Stick to one color scheme, or make it bright. This nontraditional, fun design works best in a casual room, or a child’s bedroom.
Hang a Wreath Without a Hammer
Spare your walls, and give yourself (or your husband) the gift of hardware-less, labor-less Christmas decor. Rather than breaking out the leveler and stud sensor, simply hang a festive Christmas wreath from your curtain rods to avoid filling the wall or woodwork with nail holes. For a minimalist, elegant display, hang your wreath with a simple satin ribbon, using transparent fishing line for any necessary support. For a fresh and youthful Christmas wreath, use multiple ribbons tied in bows of various lengths. Tie multicolored Christmas ornaments to the ends for bright, fun details. We recommend keeping your wreath’s decoration simple, as pictured above, when using bright ribbon.
A Little Goes a Long Way
When it comes to Christmas decor, the value of your holiday display is never measured by how many lights you can string or how many inflatable snowmen you can prop up in your front yard – as much as we love the movie, this is not National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Instead of blowing a fuse, opt for simple, classic, and rustic holiday décor. Beautiful evergreen wreaths secured using simple ribbons tied into bows lend an elegant and festive appearance to this white farmhouse. Achieve the same classic look at your own home by hanging simple matching evergreen wreaths on your doors and windows.